Sunday 18th Nov, 2018

First automated, electric container ship a step closer to reality


NORWEGIAN shipbuilder VARD was selected to build the Yara Birkenland, which will be the first fully automated, electric container vessel.

A partnership between technology company Kongsberg and Yara was announced in 2017 to build the world’s first autonomous, electric container vessel.


Yara Birkenland is expected to improve road safety in a densely populated urban area, replacing 40,000 truck journeys per year.

Yara president and CEO Svein Tore Holsether said the company was relying on teaming up with partners with an entrepreneurial mindset and cutting-edge expertise.

“VARD combines experience in customised ship building 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,” he said.

Yara Birkeland is scheduled to be delivered from Vard Brevik in Norway in the first quarter of 2020. The hull will be delivered from Vard Braila in Romania.

VARD CEO and executive director Roy Reite said the company was honoured to be chosen as Yaras partner in the project.

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

“It is a pleasure to welcome Yara and Kongsberg to VARD, and we look forward to working closely with all parties involved.”

The project has received NOK 133.6m in support from the Norwegian government enterprise ENOVA. Prime Minister Erna Solberg was present for the signing of the agreement at the ship yard in Brevik, Norway.

“This is a good example of how Norwegian industry can collaborate to create new solutions and green jobs,” Mr Soldberg said.

“Yara, Kongsberg and VARD have built on their knowledge about technology, logistics and ship building with an ambition to create sustainable innovation together.

“The result is exciting pioneer projects like this one. I am proud that the government has supported the development of Yara Birkeland through ENOVA and send my best wishes for the construction.”

Kongsberg CEO Geir Håøy said the vessel represented an important next step for the entire maritime industry, representing a major technological and sustainable advancement.

“The Norwegian maritime cluster has taken a leading position within technology, design, legislation, testing and all other aspects of the development,” he said.

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