RensenDriessen Shipbuilding announced Friday, January 21, the start of the construction of ten semi-autonomous ships. Client discussions started in June 2021, exploring the route to build semi-autonomous vessels with in-house developed Seafar technology. In order to diversify the fleet, the client has decided to commission these vessels, suitable for both dry cargo and containers, with the best available innovative technology for both sustainability and automation. The vessels will be equipped with a hybrid propulsion system. The client, a Belgian owner, came up with the concept of the semi-autonomous ships and named them ‘River Drones’.


New generation of sustainable ships
“From a Seafar Control Centre, the ships are safely guided through the water. Optimal vessel performance is achieved through increased navigation time and optimised crew efficiency. This is a first step in what we believe is the future”, says Wim Driessen, owner of RensenDriessen Shipbuilding. “The construction of the first three hulls has just started in China and they will arrive in the Netherlands in the second quarter of 2022. The seven remaining hulls will follow in 2022.”


The 106-metre-long vessels will be finished by Asto Shipyard in the Netherlands, in cooperation with various partners. The vessels will be propelled by two new Equadrives fitted with thrusters from VerhaarOmega. The Equadrives are powered by two Mitsubishi generator sets supplied by Koedood Marine Group. Koedood Marine Group recently received EU Stage V certification for these generator sets. Werkina has been commissioned to build in all the electronics.


“The ‘River Drones’ represent a new generation of sustainable vessels. We are looking forward to develop this project further in the coming months and would like to thank our client for the order and the trust in RensenDriessen Shipbuilding”, concludes Driessen.