NBCC is proud to announce our newest partner member, Kongsberg Maritime. They are a world leader in marine technology and a part of the Kongsberg Group. We had a chat with Mark Bruce, Vice President of Regional Sales UK & Ireland.
Welcome to the NBCC, Mark. You represent a company that’s been an integral part of the Norwegian Industry for more than 200 years. Could you tell us a bit more about Kongsberg Maritime?
Kongsberg Maritime is a part of the Kongsberg Group , a global technology powerhouse. It consists of Kongsberg Maritime, Kongsberg Digital and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace. We specialise in developing advanced technologies to provide extreme performance for extreme conditions.
Kongsberg Maritime is a world leader in marine technology. With an extensive portfolio of innovative and integrated products and solutions, we deliver efficiency, reliability, flexibility, and environmental sustainability to enhance the business of our customers. Our solutions cover all marine industry sectors including merchant, offshore, cruise, subsea and naval. We are a truly global company and have manufacturing, sales and service facilities in 34 countries.
That’s quite an extensive area of expertise. What is Kongsberg Maritime doing in the UK?
We have had a UK footprint since 1871 and have been exporting British-developed maritime and defence solutions worldwide. With over 200 employees across the UK as well as manufacturing equipment we provide Design, Sales, Service, Technical Support, Rental and Training solutions to our extensive UK customer base.
One of our key focus areas in the UK is to align our work with the national shipbuilding strategy first published by the UK government in 2017 and updated in 2022. This brings an opportunity to help grow our business here in the UK. We had the honour of designing & equipping the Sir David Attenborough, one of the world’s most advanced polar research vessels.
Lastly, I would like to mention our collaboration with BAE Systems (a British multinational arms, security and aerospace company based in London). Building on our equipment supply to the Type 26 Frigate we have formed a Naval Working Group with the long-term objective of offering common Naval solutions for the Norwegian, British and international navies using a step-by-step approach.
You have quite a lot of exciting and innovative projects ongoing. Do you have one favourite you could tell us more about?
Oh, it’s a difficult question, but it has to be the HySeas III project. In 2016, Kongsberg Maritime entered a partnership with Ballard and Caledonian Maritime Assets (CMAL), among others, to examine the possibility of powering maritime vessels with hydrogen fuel cells. Five years later the project team put a full-scale hybrid propulsion system to the test with great success. Together we were able to develop the world’s first hydrogen-powered sea-going car ferry using excess power from wind turbines to make hydrogen to power the ship, thus making the ship fully operational on local renewable energy sources.
This is quite some cutting-edge technology! Another technology KONGSBERG is quite familiar with is autonomous ships. Where are we on this technology, and when can we expect to take a ferry run autonomously?
Well, technically, you can already do so. The Bastø Fosen ferry travelling between Horten and Moss is crossing and docking the fjord autonomously. However, as we are still in an early phase, there is a captain on board if anything happens. This is phase 1, where the ship is autonomous, but a man is bridged. It allows us to learn about the challenges of autonomous vessels while still being in full control.
KONGSBERG is the world leader in autonomous shipping, and Yara Birkeland is a zero-emission, fully electric and autonomous container ship. The first two years of operation will be a trial period before being fully autonomous. A month ago, she was christened and is now transporting fertiliser across the fjord from Yara’s Porsgrunn plant to Brevik port. The result is that carbon emissions of 40 000 diesel truckloads per year are eliminated. The next phase will involve a remote bridge (onshore control room) before phase three, where the vessel will be fully autonomous.
We have covered that the relationship between the UK and Norway regarding the maritime industry and operations is quite strong. Considering that, where do you think trade between Norway and UK will be in 10 years?
There’s a growing appetite for more cooperation between our countries. We are two important countries in Europe that are not members of the EU, and it’s natural to explore where the relationship could be harnessed. A lot of commonalities, such as the North Sea, are shared.
For example, we have the world’s largest offshore wind farm, the Dogger Bank wind farm, placed in the North Sea, attracting a lot of attention. KONGSBERG is, in fact, working with the ship operators who will service the wind farm.
Further, we are not just sharing commonalities when it comes to energy, but we also share strong maritime bounds. Ever since WW2, Norway and the UK have been working together through an officer exchange program allowing officers to exchange knowledge and experience. Our countries are continuously exploring common platforms between the navies, and that’s an exciting project I doubt will vanish in the near future.
Thank you very much for your time, Mark and for allowing us to get to know Kongsberg Maritime even better. We sure need to go more into depth on one of your projects another time!