Back in 2017, Norwegian fertiliser firm Yara International ordered the Yara Birkeland. However, its development was paused in May this year, due to the pandemic.

Nevertheless, another significant reason for this pause is the great complexities of getting autonomous landside operations in place.

During an interview to Norwegian media, Yara boss Svein Tore Holsether sneaked a hint that the much-awaited autonomous vessel could launch next year.

In fact, the hull is completed, and has been towed to Vard Brattvaag Shipyard in Norway for outfitting, which will be completed during November.

However, getting the landside operations in place proved to be much more difficult thatn originall anticipated from every side, including order receipts, production, packing, transport to the ship, and loading and unloading containers.

As Mr. Holsether admitted, the company indeed underestimated the complexity of such a project. Nevertheless, Ketil Olaf Paulsen, director of technology and development at Kongsberg Maritime, explained that they have a fully finished ship that is designed as autonomous, and the company can start testing under realistic conditions.

Participants in the project are now seeking funding to conduct a full-scale testing of the ship.