September 14, 2020 Maritime Safety News

Leading Norwegian grocery distributor ASKO has signed agreements with Kongsberg Maritime and Massterly – a Kongsberg Wilhelmsen joint venture – on two new autonomous fully-electric ships.

The vessels, which are due to be delivered early in 2022, have been designed by Norwegian vessel designer Naval Dynamics and will be constructed at the state-owned Cochin Shipyard in India

ASKO currently transports its cargo by more than 800 trucks on a daily basis and the company is investing heavily in new technologies such as electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles.

At present, road transport is the single mode of transportation to link the company’s warehouses on the western side of the Oslo fjord with its distribution centre on the eastern side. The new Ro-Ro vessels will replace the current solution with a zero emission transport alternative.

It is estimated that the two electric ships will replace 2 million kilometres of truck transport, saving 5,000 tonnes of CO2 every year.

‘We have a clear ambition to be climate neutral and have set ambitious goals, including being a self-sufficient provider of clean energy and having 100% emission-free transport by 2026. These innovative ships are key to fulfilling that ambition and will form an essential component of a zero-emissions logistics chain linking our facilities,’ commented Kai Just Olsen, Director, ASKO Maritime.

‘Fully electric trucks will take the cargo between the warehouses and the ports of Moss and Horten, and in shipments of 16 the trailers will be transported across the fjord on the battery-driven vessels. This solution is cost effective, sustainable and will remove trucks from a heavily trafficked road.

ENOVA, which is owned by Norway’s Ministry of Climate and Environment, is proving 119 million NOK in funding for the project.

The two vessels will be equipped with the technology required for zero emission and unmanned operation by Kongsberg Maritime, while Massterly will ensure ship management and safe operations from its shore-based Remote Operations Centre. The two vessels will initially operate with a reduced crew, before moving towards unmanned voyages.

Since the ASKO operation lies within Norway’s coastal jurisdiction, the Norwegian Maritime Authorities (NMA) must be satisfied that a sufficient level of safety has been achieved before they will issue an approval of operation for these vessels.

The NMA will therefore follow the project through a detailed risk assessment, based on IMO 1455 guidelines with regards to equivalent and alternative designs, new technology, verification, and approval for operation. DNV GL will also support this process as an independent third party.