Norwegian company Yara International has held a christening ceremony for Yara Birkeland, an autonomous emission-free container ship.

Yara carried out the christening of the electric and autonomous ship, claimed to be a world first of its type, near the Yara Porsgrunn plant.

The ceremony was attended by 500 local students and Crown Prince of Norway, Haakon Magnus.

In his speech, Magnus said: “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.”

Expected to enter service this year, the electric vessel will be used for the shipment of fertiliser across the fjord from Yara’s Porsgrunn plant to Brevik port, helping in a carbon emissions reduction of 40,000 diesel truckloads a year.

Yara worked with various Norwegian partners for the development of the battery-driven ship.

The technology for the vessel was developed and delivered by Kongsberg Maritime. Vard constructed the autonomous ship.

Kongsberg Group and Massterly’s joint venture (JV) will operate Yara Birkeland.

Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment’s Enova provided funding of NOK133.5m ($14.2m) for the construction of the new electric ship.

Yara International president and CEO Svein Tore Holsether said: “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.”