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The world's first unmanned container ship runs aground.

The world's first unmanned container ship runs aground.

Column:Industry News    Date:2020/11/23 10:33:57    Viewed:


The year 2020 was supposed to be the first year of the era of unmanned ships in the global shipping industry, but all that has changed because of the epidemic.The world's first unmanned container ship, due to be delivered this year, has run aground as European shipping companies join forces to once again become a game changer for the shipping industry, but the game of unmanned ships appears to be "more complicated than expected".

More complicated than you think?The Yara Birkeland project is on hold

Recently, it was revealed that the Yara Birkeland, the world's first unmanned container ship, would continue to be delayed. The real reason for the shelving of the project is that the autonomous navigation and operation of the unmanned ship is more complicated than expected.In a recent interview with the media, Svein Holsether, President and CHIEF executive of Yara, admitted that he underestimated the ship's complexity. "It seems like the vein Holsether is more complex than we thought!"

The world's first unmanned container ship, developed by Fertiliser giant Yara International in partnership with Norway's Kongsberg, will be the world's first fully automated zero-emission container ship, the Yara Birkeland.Initially, the ship is scheduled to be delivered early this year and will be fully operational by 2022.

However, earlier this year, due to the outbreak and changes in the global outlook, Yara announced that it was suspending the development of the "Yara Birkeland" and decided to evaluate the next step with its partners.

It is understood that Yara and Kongsberg disclosed their plans to jointly build the Yara Birkeland, a fully automatic zero-emission container ship, in 2017.In August 2018, Yara signed a contract with Norwegian shipyard VARD for construction worth 250 million Norwegian kroner ($29.6 million), far more than a conventional ship with similar capacity.

The Yara Birkeland is scheduled to be manually operated initially after delivery, with full automatic operation expected by 2022.The vessel, designed by Marin Teknikk's MT207, is 80m long and 15m wide and can carry 120 20ft standard containers at a normal speed of 6 knots and a maximum speed of 13 knots.

The Yara Birkeland will be a turning point in the history of global shipping, even if it carries little cargo.


It is understood that the hull of the "Yara Birkeland", which was completed and put to sea at the VARD Romanian Braila shipyard earlier this year, arrived in The VARD Norwegian Brevik Shipyard in May for the next stage of outfitting, installation of various control and navigation systems and various pre-delivery tests.But in June Yara abruptly suspended construction.

Participants in the project are now seeking funding for a full test of the ship.According to Holsether, the ship could set sail next year.

European shipping companies to cooperate!To be a game changer in the shipping industry

As the world's first zero-emission, all-electric, self-navigating container ship, the Yara Birkeland is seen as a game-changer for the shipping industry.Earlier this year, it was expected that with the launch of The Yara Birkeland, 2020 would be a major step forward in the era of unmanned autonomous shipping.

The Yara Birkeland helped achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and Norway's environmental protection rules.As a result, the project has been funded by NKR133.6 million from ENOVA, the Norwegian national innovation platform, a Norwegian government enterprise.

The Yara Birkeland, after its delivery, is scheduled to be deployed on two short offshore routes of 7 nautical miles and 30 nautical miles, mainly to transship cargo from the Production base in Porsgrun to Brevik and Larvik at the Yara Norwegian plant.Yara's goods are destined for distant markets, particularly Asia and South America.


Kongsberg Maritime is responsible for supplying the Yara Birkeland with electric drives, batteries and propulsion control systems, as well as all key capabilities and technologies related to remote control and automated operations.Kongsberg acquired Rollo's merchant shipping business in April 2019, making substantial progress in terms of product range and knowledge base expertise.At the same time, Kang Shibo maritime in research and development and integration of a variety of Marine application of advanced sensor, control and communications, has accumulated decades of professional knowledge, the AUV (unmanned underwater vehicle), the USV (unmanned surface vessel) and Marine robot record and anastomosed with the sharp project especially marked the ship a major development of the remote control.

It is understood that The company has chosen Leclanche to supply the ship with 6.8 megawatt-hour batteries, the most powerful battery in the world at the time.

The drive will be two azimuths and the steering and mooring will be assisted by two bow thrusters from Brunvoll, including two 900kW towed azimuths combined with controllable pitch propellers of 2.2m diameter and two 700kW channel propellers of 1.75m diameter.


McKeega has provided an automated mooring scheme for the Yara Birkeland, which will service the three ports covered by the ship, and cargo loading and unloading will also use automated electric cranes and other equipment.

The Norwegian Offshore Authority's Ship Traffic Management System (VTMS) located in Brevik will cover the entire normal navigation mode of the ship.Dedicated operational control centres will also be set up at Porsgrunn base in Yara and At The Konsberg Maritime Headquarters, which will deal with status monitoring, operational supervision, decision support, supervision of ships and their surroundings, emergency and special situations, and all other aspects of safety.

The operator of "Yara Birkeland" is The world's first unmanned ship company, Massterly, jointly established by Wilhelmsen of Norway and Konsberg Maritime, aiming to provide a series of value chain services including design and development, control system, logistics service and ship for unmanned ships.Massterly is based in Lysaker, Oslo, Norway, and officially began operations in August 2018.

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