Fincantieri’s Norwegian shipbuilding subsidiary Vard has announced that it has delivered the Zero Emission container vessel Yara Birkeland to the owner Yara International.
Vard said on its Linkedin page that it was tasked with building a vessel prepared for autonomous operation which Yara will further develop until launch. The hull was built by Vard Braila and initially the plans for outfitting and delivery was for Vard Brevik, later transferred to Vard Brattvaag.
“We have been through an exciting process with technological development and have gained a great amount of knowledge about such type of vessels, which we will continue drawing experiences from going forward. This is an example of how flexible we need to be in order to adapt to new technology and changes in the maritime industry. We wish Yara the best of luck developing the vessel further and we look forward to seeing it coming into operation soon”.
Earlier this year, Yara International announced that due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the changed global outlook, it has decided to pause further development of the vessel and will assess next steps together with its partners.
Yara and technology company Kongsberg teamed up in 2017 with the ambition to build the world’s first autonomous and zero-emission container vessel. Replacing 40,000 truck journeys a year, Yara Birkeland will when completed reduce NOx and CO2 emissions and improve road safety in a densely populated urban area in Norway.
The 120teu open top container vessel was due to commence operations later this year with a crew and 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 will be lifted off.
In an interview featured in Norwegian technical magazine Teknisk Ukeblad early in November, Yara said it was not planning to operate the vessel until sometime next year due to problems being experienced with the loading and discharging procedures. Yara International President and CEO Svein Tore Holsether said the company ‘had underestimated the complexity’ of the project which was initially aimed at removing trucks carrying fertiliser from Norwegian roads.
The article also suggested that partners in the project which includes the Kongsberg Group were seeking further funding to permit full-scale testing of the vessel.