ASKO AutoBarge (Image: Naval Dynamics)ASKO AutoBarge (Image: Naval Dynamics)

Norway-based ASKO Maritime AS Norway has signed a contract for the construction of two autonomous electric ferries with India’s largest commercial shipyard, Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL).

The contract for the two 67m-long vessels includes an option for a further two vessels. CSL notes that the yard has experience of building electric vessels, and is building 23 smaller hybrid electric boats for the Kochi Water Metro.

ASKO Maritime AS is a subsidiary of Norges Gruppen ASA, one of the largest players in the Norwegian retail segment. The vessel project has been partially funded by the Norwegian Government as part of the overall plan for a significant reduction in emissions in Norwegian waters. The 67-metre long ferries are designed to transport trailers across Oslofjord between two of ASKO’s distribution centres.

The vessels will be managed by Massterly AS, a joint venture between Kongsberg and the shipping company Wilhelmsen. Massterly was set up to undertake the technical management and the operation of autonomous vessels.

The vessels will be delivered as full-electric transport ferries, with the main propulsion power coming from a 500 kW electric motor coupled to an azimuthing stern drive. This with be supplied with electrical power from an 1846 kWh capacity battery bank. An electrically powered Schottel Pump Jet will be fitted at the bow to act both as emergency propulsion and as a bow thruster to improve manoeuvrability. The operating speed will be 10 knots and it is anticipated that this mode of trailer transport will save over 2 million road miles per year.

The ferries will be fitted with a basic bridge forward and initially the ferries will be operated with a crew on board in order to test all the system and operation. Once the operation has been full established the ferries will operate as fully autonomous ferries for ASKO with the ability to transport 16 fully loaded standard EU trailers at one time. These will be stowed on the open deck with a loading ramp at the stern. 

These ships will be fitted with a Kongsberg automatic mooring system that will speed up the turn around time on the vessels. The recharging of the vessels’ battery banks will take place at each terminus, and will be automated.

Kongsberg also developed the automation systems that were to be installed in the slightly larger automated short sea cargo ship Yara Birkeland but work on this vessel has been stopped due to the current pandemic situation.

The vessels have been designed by Naval Dynamics in Norway with Kongsberg Maritime supplying the automation systems and with detailed engineering being carried out by CSL. The ships will be built under DNV GL classification and flagged in Norway.

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