First Ever Zero-Emission, Autonomous Cargo Ship Will Be Ready Soon


Yara Birkeland is a fully-electric autonomous ship which will deliver container vans to the 3 southern ports of Norway namely Herøya, Brevik, and Larvik. It was designed by Marin Teknikk and KONGSBERG Maritime will be developing the equipment for the ship. The cost of the project is estimated to be around $25m or NOK133.6m which was granted by the Norwegian Government.

Going one step further

Yara International is a Norwegian chemical company which produces fertilizers and other chemicals for agricultural, industrial and environmental use.

KONGSBERG or Kongsberg Gruppen is a technology group that develops high-tech systems for customers involved in the maritime industry, utility and renewable industry, defense industry, gas and oil industry, and aerospace industry. They will be responsible for the ship’s development as well as the programming and functions of this autonomous ship by the year 2020.

Yara Birkeland is a fully-electric autonomous ship which will deliver container vans to the 3 southern ports of Norway namely Herøya, Brevik, and Larvik.

Marin Teknikk is an independent design and engineering agency providing engineering services for ship owners who are involved in the fishing industry, cruise ships, and yachts.

The Yara Birkeland is now under construction by the delivering shipyard Vard Brevik. The construction of the ship is said to be done by early 2019.

Here are some facts and features about the ship

The ship itself is an open-top container vessel with a cargo capacity of 120 TEU (20-foot equivalent units). This vessel was developed as an initiative for an eco-friendly ship which will reduce the nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxides that normal container vessels emit. The ship will be battery-powered for autonomous operations. When the ship will embark its first ever voyage, there will be a temporary bridge equipped with maneuvering and navigation systems. Once the ship is ready for automation, this temporary bridge will be detached.

The following detail will describe how the ship would look like once it is finished. The ship will be delivered within the 1st half of 2019.

Main information:
  • Length o.a.: 79,5 m
  • Length p.p.: 72,4 m
  • Width mld.: 14,8 m
  • Depth shelter deck: 10,8 m
  • Draught (full): 6 m
  • Draught (ballast): 3 m
  • Service speed: 6 knots
  • Max speed: 13 knots
Ship’s Capacity:
  • Cargo capacity: 120 TEU
  • Deadweight: 3,200 mt
Proximity sensors:
  • Radar
  • Lidar
  • AIS (Automatic Identification System)
  • Camera
  • IR camera


  • Propulsion system: Electric
  • Propellers: 2 Azimuth pods
  • Thrusters: 2 Tunnel thruster
  • Battery pack: 7 – 9 MWh
Connectivity & Communications:
  • Maritime Broadband Radio
  • Satellite Communications
  • GSM (Global System for Mobile communication)

The ship is set to sail within 12 nm (nautical miles) from the coast, and the route will be Herøya – Brevik which is about 7 nm (nautical miles) and Herøya – Larvik which is about 30 nm (nautical miles). The ship will be carrying fertilizers and chemicals to and from these said routes. The Norwegian Coastal Administrations’ VTS system will be in charge of the ship’s traffic to and from the said ports.

Distributed control operations

There will be 3 centers in charge of the ship’s control and operations once it goes into full automation. These centers will handle the operational monitoring, emergency and exception handling, decision support, condition monitoring, and surveillance of the ship and its surrounding area with all the aspects of safety. These centers are as follows:

  • YARA at Porsgrunn
  • Kongsberg Maritime
  • Kystverket VTS center at Brevik  (yet to be decided)

This project will be a breakthrough for the Maritime Industry and will change the course of Maritime Transportation on a global scale. What are your thoughts regarding this innovation? Drop your comments below!

YouTube: The world’s first autonomous, zero-emission container feeder

Photo credit: The used images have been provided by Kongsberg Gruppen as part of a press release.
Source: Yara Birkeland on Wikipedia / Kongsberg Gruppen on Wikipedia / Kongsberg website

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Xz Jopillo
Xz Jopillo
Creative Writer for TechAcute
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