South Korea’s Avikus claims world’s first autonomous ocean crossing by a large ship

South Korea-based autonomous navigation company Avikus, a subsidiary of major global shipbuilder HD Hyundai has claimed the first trans-oceanic autonomous voyage by a large commercial ship.

LNG carrier Prism Courage (IMO 9888481) travelled from Freeport, Texas to Boryeong LNG Terminal in South Korea, via the Panama Canal, a 33-day voyage covering about 10,800nm, of which half was navigated autonomously using Avikus technology.

Avikus deployed “HiNAS 2.0”. The company said that the system accurately recognized the locations of nearby ships and manoeuvred to avoid collision about 100 times. The company also said that, by allowing the system to select the optimal route, the ship was able to increase its fuel efficiency by 7% while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by about 5%.

Captain Young-hoon Koh, Master on board the Prism Courage, said that “Avikus’s autonomous navigation technology was greatly helpful in this ocean-crossing test especially for maintaining navigating routes, autonomously changing directions, and avoiding nearby ships, which were all increasing ship crews’ work conveniences”.

Panama-flagged Prism Courage has a LNG capacity of 180,000 cbm and is 299 metres long. It is operated by SK Shipping, South Korea’s largest LNG shipping company.

The trial voyage was conducted under the supervision and real-time monitoring by classification societies American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and Korean Register of Shipping (KR), which were verifying the performance and stability of the technology.

Avikus said it plans to commercialize the HiNAS 2.0 system “within this year”, upon certification from ABS.

Avikus was launched in December 2020 as the first in-house venture of HD Hyundai.

2021-built, Panama-flagged, 122,166 gt Prism Courage is owned by Hhiens3 Shipholding SA care of manager SK Shipping Co Ltd of Seoul, South Korea. It is entered with Britannia.