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AUTONOMOUS SHIP PROJECT, KEY FACTS ABOUT YARA BIRKELAND

THE ZERO EMISSION, AUTONOMOUS CONTAINER FEEDER

The vessel YARA Birkeland is on route to becoming a fully electric and autonomous container ship, with zero emissions. KONGSBERG is responsible for development and delivery of all key enabling technologies including the sensors and integration required for remote and autonomous ship operations, in addition to the electric drive, battery and propulsion control systems.

The vessel YARA Birkeland will be the world’s first fully electric and autonomous container ship, with zero emissions. KONGSBERG is responsible for development and delivery of all key enabling technologies including the sensors and integration required for remote and autonomous ship operations, in addition to the electric drive, battery and propulsion control systems.

The ship

A 120 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) open top container ship. It will be a fully battery powered solution, prepared for autonomous and unmanned operation. The vessel will reduce NOx and CO2 emissions by reducing diesel-powered truck transport by around 40,000 journeys per year. This eco-initiative will help to meet the UN sustainability goals and improve road safety and congestion.

For the first phase of the project a detachable bridge with equipment for manoeuvring and navigation will be implemented. When the ship is ready for autonomous operation this module is prepared for removal.

facts & figures

Main particulars
  • Length o.a.: 79.97 m
  • Length p.p.: 72.4 m
  • Width mld.: 14.8 m
  • Depth shelter deck: 10.8 m
  • Draught (full): 6.3 m
  • Draught (ballast): 3.3 m
  • Service speed: 8 knots
  • Max speed: 13 knots
Capacity
  • Cargo capacity: 120 TEU
  • Deadweight: 3 400 mt
Propulsion
  • Propulsion system: Electric
  • Propellers: 2 Azimuth pods
  • Thrusters: 2 Tunnel thruster
  • Battery pack: 6.7 MWh
SITUATIONAL AWARENESS sensors
  • Radars
  • AIS
  • Daylight Camera clusters
  • Pan Tilt Zoom systems with Daylight camera and Infrared sensor
Connectivity & Communication
  • Maritime Broadband Radio
  • GSM

Loading / discharging / mooring

Loading and discharging will be done with remotely operated electric cranes.

The ship will also be equipped with an automatic mooring system - berthing and unberthing will be done without human intervention and will not require special implementations dockside.

Operational area

The autonomous ship will sail within 12 nautical miles from the coast, between the home port at Herøya and the port in Brevik. Along the route there are speed restrictions under the Brevik bridge, challenging currents and some passages are classified as congested waters. The entire route is monitored by the Vessel Traffic Service in Brevik. Larvik may become an additional port for future port calls.  

The distances between the ports are:

  • Herøya – Brevik (approx. 7 nm)
  • Herøya – Larvik (approx. 30 nm)

Operation / control centre

A Remote Operation Centre (ROC) will perfom voyage planning, handle emergency and exception handling, condition monitoring, operational monitoring, decision support, surveillance of the autonomous ship and its surroundings and other aspects associated with a safe operation. The ROC will be established in Horten at a Massterly site. Massterly is a Joint venture for KONGSBERG together with Wilhelmsen founded in 2018 to become the first operator of autonomous vessels.

Milestones

2017

  • Design finalised. Design done by Marin Teknikk, design MT 2007.
  • Model towing tank testing. Testing at SINTEF Ocean in Trondheim Norway.

2018

  • 15th August, Contract signed between YARA and Vard and between YARA and Kongsberg Maritime.

2020

  • Seatrials completed and vessel handed over to YARA.

2021

  • Completion of the port modifications at Yara Birkeland Terminal at Herøya including installation of the gantry crane
  • Maiden voyage to Oslo and to Herøya
  • First test-voyage with cargo  Herøya – Brevik

2022

  • Completion of the commissioning of the remotely operated Gantry crane
  • Commence commercial operation with first set of highly automated systems with onboard crew
  • Naming Ceremony of the vessel Yara Birkeland with a grand public celebration

2023-24

  • Gradual implementation and testing of autonomous functional capabilities
  • Approval activities for the un-crewed vessel (NMA with 3rd party assessment from DNV)
  • Commence commercial operation as un-crewed vessel with autonomous capabilities supported by a ROC

Press releases (an extract)