Massterly part of DB Schenker plans to run zero-emissions autonomous coastal container feeder for Ekornes ASA in Norway

DB Schenker has revealed its plans to run an innovative, zero-emission coastal container feeder between Ekornes’ own port and the Port of Ålesund in Norway. The fully electric vessel includes a unique design, making the vessel first of its kind in the world.
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Having just signed a letter of Intent (LoI), DB Schenker and its cooperation partners – the furniture giant Ekornes and vessel designers Naval Dynamics, in addition to KONGSBERG and Wilhelmsen joint-owned company Massterly – have taken the first step in an ambitious collective aim to replace the traditional feeder vessels utilised along this stretch of the Norwegian coastline.

The new autonomous and electric short-sea container feeder leverages the Naval Dynamics’ NDS AutoBarge 250 concept developed in partnership with KONGSBERG and Massterly.

The vessel will operate between Ekornes’ own port, Ikornnes, to the port of Ålesund which serves the main ocean freight ports in Europe, completing the 43km (23NM) voyage within three hours, at a speed of 7.7 knots. The vessel is 50 meters long and can carry 300 deadweight tonnes cargo and is designed from keel up to accommodate for autonomous and zero emission operation. The vessel aims to be operational by 2024 and will run uncrewed but supervised from Massterly’s Remote Operation Center (ROC), which is staffed with certified navigators and naval engineers.

The planned two-way data communication solution between the vessel and the ROC is destined to be another game-changer in the sea freight sector. 

Knut Eriksmoen, CEO Norway, DB Schenker: “We are delighted to further reinforce an already strong relationship with our customer Ekornes. This unique project will mark another important step towards greener supply chains and pays into our overall sustainability agenda in ocean freight. We are ambitiously taking the lead here with our cooperation partners.”

Roger Lunde, CEO, Ekornes AS: “We’re continuously working towards our goal of becoming the leading global sustainable manufacturer of premium furniture. With this landmark project, we will meet our sustainability targets by using the most innovative technology available. Using the autonomous electric container feeder for direct pick-ups of our Stressless products from our own quay in Ikornnes means that our total carbon footprint will be reduced significantly. We will also gain better control over, and a greater flexibility of, our own logistics”

Geir Håøy, CEO, KONGSBERG ASA: “We’re beginning to see a general shift away from the road transportation of goods, with its considerable carbon footprint, and towards clean, energy-efficient, short-sea freight transportation. Given our decades of expertise in creating and perfecting systems for ship operations in every context, we are in a unique position to carry out pioneering work in this project. KONGSBERG is currently involved in several fully electric and autonomous vessel operations, including Yara Birkeland and ASKO. We look forward to bringing on our know-how and experience in this new partnership with DB Schenker and Ekornes”.

Tom Eystø, Managing Director, Massterly: “We are very pleased to be working with Ekornes and DB Schenker in creating a smart logistics solution from the Ekornes production site to the market. The small, fully electric and energy-efficient cargo vessel will be designed for uncrewed operations. Massterly will operate the vessel from our Remote Operation Center. We find it very interesting that one of the world’s largest logistics providers, DB Schenker, is seeing the benefits of uncrewed, zero emissions shipping and we hope this project will inspire a larger volume of similar vessels

Øystein Jaer, CEO Naval Dynamics AS: “The AutoBarge 250 Coast Feeder is designed from keel up for efficient and zero emission autonomous operations,”. “In partnership with Massterly AS – the vessel operator and technical manager – and Kongsberg Maritime AS – the technology provider – we are confident that DB Schenker and Ekornes will have an optimal and future-proof transport chain set to meet the future demands of clients and customers worldwide.“

The benefits will be numerous, including zero emissions, faster and more efficient transport, and reduced traffic on roads. Leading the way to climate neutrality, the parties’ joint interest is to unveil this pioneering vessel in Norway and to take the next crucial steps forward by receiving approval from the Norwegian Maritime Authority and possibly secure governmental incentives for the sustainability and technology aspects.