In Norway, a battery-electric container ship named the Yara Birkeland is gearing up to be tested and certified as an autonomous ship. According to the CEO of international chemical firm Yara, Svein Tore Holsether, the ship is “the world’s first fully electric and self-propelled container ship.”
Massterly, a joint venture between Kongsberg and Wilhelmsen, plans to begin a two-year long test of the ship, which will be operated from Massterly’s monitoring and operations center in Horten, Norway. Yara and Massterly will remotely monitor the ship’s performance, and provide emergency management.
Kongsberg outfitted the ship with sensors and control systems for the electric drive and batteries. Massterly plans to prepare the 120 Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit (TEU) ship for autonomous voyages by removing a detachable bridge and activating an automatic mooring system for navigating ports.
Loading and discharging will be done automatically using electric cranes. The ship will not have ballast tanks, but will use its battery pack as permanent ballast. The ship will be equipped with an automatic mooring system—berthing and unberthing will be done without human intervention.