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Norway: World’s first zero-emissions autonomous coastal container feeder operational by 2024

09 May 2022

DB Schenker and its partners, furniture manufacturer Ekornes and vessel designer Naval Dynamics, in addition to KONGSBERG and the Wilhelmsen joint-owned company Massterly on Thursday (5 May) said they have signed a letter of Intent (LOI) to introduce a fully electric coastal container feeder service.

The vessel will operate between Ekornes’ own port, Ikornnes, to the port of Ålesund which serves the main ocean freight ports in Europe, completing the 43km (23NM) voyage within three hours, at a speed of 7.7 knots. 

The new autonomous and electric short-sea container feeder leverages the Naval Dynamics’ NDS AutoBarge 250 concept developed in partnership with KONGSBERG and Massterly.

The vessel is 50 metres long and can carry 300 deadweight tonnes cargo and is designed from keel up to accommodate for autonomous and zero emission operation. 

It aims to be operational by 2024 and will run uncrewed but supervised from Massterly’s Remote Operation Center (ROC), which is staffed with certified navigators and naval engineers.

The planned two-way data communication solution between the vessel and the ROC is destined to be another game-changer in the sea freight sector. 

Knut Eriksmoen, CEO Norway, DB Schenker said: “We are delighted to further reinforce an already strong relationship with our customer Ekornes. This unique project will mark another important step towards greener supply chains and pays into our overall sustainability agenda in ocean freight. We are ambitiously taking the lead here with our cooperation partners.”

Roger Lunde, CEO, Ekornes AS said: “We’re continuously working towards our goal of becoming the leading global sustainable manufacturer of premium furniture. With this landmark project, we will meet our sustainability targets by using the most innovative technology available. Using the autonomous electric container feeder for direct pick-ups of our Stressless products from our own quay in Ikornnes means that our total carbon footprint will be reduced significantly. We will also gain better control over, and a greater flexibility of, our own logistics”

Geir Håøy, CEO, KONGSBERG ASA said: “We’re beginning to see a general shift away from the road transportation of goods, with its considerable carbon footprint, and towards clean, energy-efficient, short-sea freight transportation. Given our decades of expertise in creating and perfecting systems for ship operations in every context, we are in a unique position to carry out pioneering work in this project. KONGSBERG is currently involved in several fully electric and autonomous vessel operations, including Yara Birkeland and ASKO. We look forward to bringing on our know-how and experience in this new partnership with DB Schenker and Ekornes”.

Tom Eystø, Managing Director, Massterly said: “We are very pleased to be working with Ekornes and DB Schenker in creating a smart logistics solution from the Ekornes production site to the market. The small, fully electric and energy-efficient cargo vessel will be designed for uncrewed operations. Massterly will operate the vessel from our Remote Operation Center. We find it very interesting that one of the world’s largest logistics providers, DB Schenker, is seeing the benefits of uncrewed, zero emissions shipping and we hope this project will inspire a larger volume of similar vessels”.

Øystein Jaer, CEO Naval Dynamics AS said: “The AutoBarge 250 Coast Feeder is designed from keel up for efficient and zero emission autonomous operations. In partnership with Massterly AS – the vessel operator and technical manager – and Kongsberg Maritime AS – the technology provider – we are confident that DB Schenker and Ekornes will have an optimal and future-proof transport chain set to meet the future demands of clients and customers worldwide.”

The benefits will be numerous, including zero emissions, faster and more efficient transport, and reduced traffic on roads. 

The parties’ joint interest is to unveil this pioneering vessel in Norway and to take the next crucial steps forward by receiving approval from the Norwegian Maritime Authority and possibly secure governmental incentives for the sustainability and technology aspects.


Photo credit: Wilhelmsen
Published: 9 May, 2022

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