Norway: The World’s First Emission-Free Cargo Ship is Christened by the Crown Prince and Youth

The christening of Yara Birkeland, the world’s first electric, autonomous container vessel, was celebrated by 500 young local schoolchildren and Norway’s Crown Prince, Haakon Magnus.

In a unique twist on maritime custom, the emission-free ship was christened by not only one but two godmothers. Pernille Gundersrud (12) and Malene Moen Straume (12) took on the honourable task of representing the future. Close to the Yara Porsgrunn factory, the christening took place.

“Fighting climate change and reducing harmful CO2 emissions is the world community’s most important task. Global warming threatens our future,” says Gundersrud.

“We are young. We represent the future, as Yara Birkeland does. We are incredibly proud and thankful to be asked to be godmothers for the world’s first fully electric and autonomous container vessel with zero emissions,” says Straume.

The ship will transport fertilizer across the fjord from Yara’s Porsgrunn plant to Brevik port and thereby eliminate the carbon emissions of 40,000 diesel truck loads per year.

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About 500 Porsgrunn students from fifth to seventh grade joined the Crown Prince in the ceremony.

“We christen you Yara Birkeland. May you be blessed with good fortune on your mission and may you inspire others in the fight for a better climate,” the two godothers said before throwing a specially made champagne bottle of ice against the bow of the ship.

In his speech, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon Magnus of Norway addressed the young ones, as well as Yara. “It takes courage to create something new. It requires investment, patience, and an ability to not give up after the first try. Innovation requires trial and error – and trial and error again – until you succeed. Those of you who have worked at Yara for many years have been involved in this several times before throughout the company’s history”, said His Royal Highness at the ceremony in Porsgrunn.

“This is a milestone for Yara,” says Svein Tore Holsether, President and CEO of Yara International. “Yara took a bold decision in 2017. We wanted to build the world’s first carbon-free container vessel. Today, five years later, we celebrate the outcome of this ambitious decision. Yara Birkeland is a result of ambition, curiosity, and collaboration where innovation, sustainability and technology come together,” he says.


On November 18, 2021, Yara Birkeland took its first and only trip to Oslo before it is put into operation


Yara developed the battery-driven ship in collaboration with several Norwegian partners. Kongsberg Maritime has developed and delivered the technology. The ship is built by Vard. Yara Birkeland will be operated by a joint venture undertaken by the Kongsberg Group and Massterly, which is owned by the Wilhelmsen Group. Enova, owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment, has contributed financially (NOK 133.5 million) to the development of Yara Birkeland.

The ship is named after kristian Birkeland, a leading Norwegian scientist in the early 1900s who is one of the founding fathers of what Yara represents today. Finding a way to use nitrogen from air to the production of ertilizer, Birkeland made the foundation for Yara.

Facts about Yara Birkeland

1.Yara Birkeland is the world’s first zero-emission electric and autonomous container ship. The ship will carry fertilizer across the fjord from Yara’s Porsgrunn facility to Brevik port, replacing 40.000 diesel truckloads annually and reducing carbon emissions.

2.The ship was created in partnership with several Norwegian companies. The Yara Birkeland technology is developed and delivered by Kongsberg Maritime, which includes sensors and integration needed for remote control and autonomous operations and electric propulsion, battery, and control systems.

3.Vard’s shipyard in Brattvg built the vessel. From its monitoring and operations center in Horten, Massterly, a joint venture between the Wilhelmsen and Kongsberg groups, has operational responsibility for Yara Birkeland. Enova, a state-owned company, has invested NOK 133.5 million in the development of Yara Birkeland.

4.In 2022, Yara Birkeland will be operational. It will first go through a two-year trial period to become autonomous and approved as an all-electric cargo ship.