Yara International has paused further construction of its much anticipated all-electric autonomous vessel MV Yara Birkeland as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the change in the global shipping outlook
Yara Birkeland’s hull was launched in Romania in February 2020 and was expected to arrive at the Norwegian shipyard in May where the vessel will be fitted with various control and navigation systems and undergo testing before delivery to Yara International.
When complete, the 120-TEU vessel will be the first fully electric container feeder and later the world’s first fully autonomous vessel. Yara Birkeland will be 80 m long, with a 14.8 m beam, propelled by electric motors driving two azimuth pods and two tunnel thrusters. Batteries will power the electric motors and the ship will function at an optimal speed of 6 knots with a maximum speed of 10 knots.
Yara International had earlier hoped to commence operations in 2020, first with a crew and a detachable bridge with equipment for manoeuvring and navigation. When the ship is ready for autonomous operation this module will be lifted off. The ship will be equipped with an automatic mooring system and loading and discharging will be done using electric cranes and equipment.
Yara Birkeland will reduce emissions and improve road safety by removing up to 40,000 truck journeys annually in a densely populated area of Norway. The container ship will transport fertiliser from Yara’s Porsgrunn plant via inland waterways to the deepsea ports of Larvik and Brevik, a journey of 31 nautical miles.
Yara International said it will asses the next steps together with its partners.
The vessel’s construction is a collaborative effort between Yara International and Kongsberg.
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