Wilhelmsen and Kongsberg setting up world's first autonomous shipping company

Shipping group Wilhelmsen and equipment manufacturer Kongsberg are setting up the world's first autonomous shipping company which is designed to offer the entire value chain for unmanned vessels.

The two companies said the joint venture called Massterly will offer the complete value chain for autonomous ships, from design and development, to control systems, logistics services and vessel operations.

Massterly which be operational from August this year plans to have land-based control centres to monitor and operate autonomous ships in Norway and internationally.

"As a world-leading maritime nation, Norway has taken a position at the forefront in developing autonomous ships,” said Thomas Wilhelmsen, ceo of Wilhelmsen Group.

“Through the creation of the new company named Massterly, we take the next step on this journey by establishing infrastructure and services to design and operate vessels, as well as advanced logistics solutions associated with maritime autonomous operations. Massterly will reduce costs at all levels and be applicable to all companies that have a transport need.”

Konsgberg is already at the forefront of autonomous shipping development with the Yara Birkeland a 120 teu autonomous, electric-powered container vessel which is designed to operate for fertliser company Yara in Norwegian coastal waters completely autonomously from 2020.

“In recent years there has been rapid development driven by a significant increase in demand from customers worldwide, from the traditional maritime industry and others. When autonomous ships soon are a reality, Massterly will be crucial for digitalising the infrastructure and operations," said Geir Håøy, president and ceo of Kongsberg. 


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Given issues of international regulations and complexities of sea states it is expected that autonomous shipping will initially be restricted to coastal shipping in individual states.

“At first, short sea shipping will use autonomous ships. This also implies increased competitiveness to move transport from road to sea. The gains are increased efficiency and reduction of emissions. For Norway as a maritime nation, this will be an important contribution to reach the UN sustainable development goals," said Wilhelmsen. 

Posted 04 April 2018

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Marcus Hand

Editor, Seatrade Maritime News

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