VARD to Build World’s First Autonomous Container Ship


Vard Holdings Limited (VARD), a designer and builder of specialized vessels, has announced that it will produce the world’s first autonomous and electric-powered container ship for Norwegian chemical giant YARA.

The vessel, which is to be named Yara Birkeland, will be delivered by VARD in early 2020, and is set to operate in a cargo transit between YARA’s plant in Porsgrunn and ports in Brevik and Larvik.

By 2022, all manned operations on the ship will be replaced by fully autonomous operations.

With a length of 80 meters and a beam of 15 meters, the vessel will have a cargo capacity of 120 TEU and replace 40,000 truck journeys a year.

Find out how automation is changing the Port of Rotterdam by reading a Port Technology technical paper

In addition, Yara Birkeland will emit less nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide, and improve road safety in a densely populated urban area.

KONGSBERG, which recently acquired Rolls-Royce’s Commercial Marine business, will be responsible for the enabling technologies onboard, including the sensors and integration required for remote and autonomous operations.

Roy Reite, CEO and Executive Director of VARD, made a statement: “We are honoured to be chosen as YARA’s partner in this innovative and exciting project.

“With a longstanding experience in building state-of-the-art and tailor-made specialized vessels, we are excited to be given the opportunity to build the world’s first autonomous and electric-driven container vessel.”

Svein Tore Holsether, President and CEO of YARA, also commented: “A vessel like Yara Birkeland has never been built before, and we rely on teaming up with partners with an entrepreneurial mind-set and cutting edge expertise.

“VARD combines experience in customized shipbuilding with leading innovation, and will deliver a game-changing vessel which will help us lower our emissions, and contribute to feeding the world while protecting the planet.”

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