Massterly to operate two zero-emission autonomous vessels for ASKO

The new vessels will replace 2 million kilometres of truck transport, saving 5 000 tonnes of CO2 annually
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Massterly (the joint venture between Wilhelmsen and Kongsberg) has signed a contract with the leading Norwegian grocery distributor ASKO to operate two new vessels equipped with autonomy technology from Kongsberg Maritime.

With Norwegian companies delivering around 60% of the investment, this is a major milestone for the growth of sustainable maritime operations in Norway. The two battery-powered vessels will replace 2 million kilometres of truck transport, saving 5 000 tonnes of CO2 every year.

The 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 their shore-based Remote Operations Centre. The two vessels will initially operate with a reduced crew, before moving towards unmanned voyages.

Thomas Wilhelmsen, CEO of Wilhelmsen group, says: ”The ASKO contract illustrates how Massterly is key in making autonomy a reality for short-sea shipping. We are proud to be the world’s first ship management company to operate unmanned vessels for commercial use. Now we are one step closer to our goal of enabling sustainable trade: through cost-effective, safe, and environmentally friendly logistics.”

ASKO – currently transporting their cargo by more than 800 trucks daily – is committed to sustainability and 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 their warehouses on the western side of the Oslo fjord with their distribution centre on the eastern side. The new RORO (Roll on, Roll off) vessels will replace the current solution with a zero emission transport alternative.

“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,” explains 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 has supported the project, including required port infrastructure, with 119 million Norwegian Krone in line with the Norwegian society's commitment to reduce emissions and transfer transport from road to sea where feasible.

Egil Haugsdal, President, Kongsberg Maritime, adds: “When we teamed up with Wilhelmsen to form Massterly, this was exactly the kind of project we wanted to enable. By working together with us to bring autonomous, electric solutions into everyday use, ASKO are helping to achieve a sustainable, safer future for maritime operations while also demonstrating the efficiencies these technologies can deliver.”

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. 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.

The vessels, which are due to be delivered from the yard early in 2022, will be constructed at the state-owned Cochin Shipyard in India. The functionality enabling autonomous operation will be implemented and tested after arrival in the operational area in the Oslo fjord. The Norwegian vessel designer Naval Dynamics has designed the vessels. 


Vessel details:

  • Overall length:                        66 meters
  • Breadth moulded:                   15 meters
  • Design deadweight:                448 metric tonnes
  • Design draft:                           1.70 meters
  • Scantling deadweight:            573 metric tonnes
  • Scantling draft:                        1.90 meters
  • Battery capacity:                     1800 kWh.


Each vessel will be able to load, carry and discharge 16 EU-spec trailers. The vessels are constructed in accordance with the rules and regulations of DNV GL Classification Society with the Class notation: 1A1 + Battery Power + RP (1,40) + R3 + General Cargo + BIS.