Yara Birkeland, the world’s first electric, autonomous container vessel, was christened in Norway on Friday.

The battery-driven vessel completed its maiden voyage in November 2021 and is due to enter service this year, transporting fertilizer across the fjord from Yara International’s Porsgrunn plant to Brevik port, eliminating the carbon emissions of 40,000 diesel truck loads per year, Yara said. Initially, the 80-meter ship will start operations as a manned vessel as part of a two-year trial period to become certified as an autonomous, all-electric containership.

Designed by Marin Teknikk and built at Vard’s shipyard in Brattvåg, the 120 TEU open hatch container feeder ship features pioneering technology developed and delivered by Kongsberg Maritime, including sensors and integration required for remote control and autonomous operations, as well as electric propulsion, battery and control systems. MacGregor will deliver an automated system to enable Yara Birkeland to moor without human intervention.

Massterly, a joint venture between he Wilhelmsen group and the Kongsberg group, will operate Yara Birkeland from its monitoring and operations center in Horten.

Enova, owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment, supported the development of Yara Birkeland with NOK 133.5 million.

The Crown Prince of Norway, Haakon Magnus, was on hand to celebrate the christening. “It takes courage to create something new. It requires investment, patience and an ability to not give up after the first try. Innovation requires trial and error—and trial and error again—until you succeed. Those of you who have worked at Yara for many years have been involved in this several times before throughout the company’s history,” he said during the ceremony in Porsgrunn.

“This is a milestone for Yara,” said Svein Tore Holsether, president and CEO of Yara International. “Yara took a bold decision in 2017. We wanted to build the world’s first carbon-free container vessel. Today, five years later, we celebrate the outcome of this ambitious decision. Yara Birkeland is a result of ambition, curiosity and collaboration where innovation, sustainability and technology come together.”

The ship is named after Kristian Birkeland, a leading Norwegian scientist in the early 1900s who is one of the founding fathers of what Yara represents today. Finding a way to use nitrogen from air to the production of fertilizer, Birkeland made the foundation for Yara.

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