The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries proudly announced the vessel, named Pos Singapore, as the first large ocean-going ship tailored for Level 3 autonomous shipping. In a groundbreaking move, South Korea plans to conduct the inaugural long-distance international demonstrations of autonomous shipping using this vessel later in the year.

The ceremony, held at Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in Ulsan, South Korea, marked the float-out and christening of the Pos Singapore, commissioned by Pan Ocean. This 564-foot (172 meters) containership boasts a capacity of 1,800 TEU and a weight of 22,200 dwt. Registered in Liberia, the vessel is scheduled for delivery at the end of this month, after which it will undergo outfitting and testing of its advanced autonomous system.

The South Korean government has prioritized autonomous vessels as a key initiative in its Advanced Maritime Mobility Development Strategy, unveiled in November 2023. This ambitious project, initiated in 2020, has received substantial government funding exceeding $120 million for the research and development of autonomous shipping technology.

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A collaborative effort between the public and private sectors, involving shipbuilding, shipping, and technology industries, has been instrumental in advancing this autonomous shipping technology. The autonomous system aims to achieve IMO Level 3 classification, allowing the vessel to operate without a crew onboard, with operations controlled remotely.

Right from the design phase of the containership, Pan Ocean and Hyundai Mipo have diligently prepared for the installation of the autonomous navigation system, which is now set to be integrated. This comprehensive system combines autonomous navigation with digital-based agency monitoring, communication, and security technologies.

South Korea has been actively testing various autonomous systems in recent years. In 2022, Hyundai achieved a significant milestone by conducting the world's first transoceanic voyage of a large merchant ship utilizing autonomous navigation technologies. This groundbreaking voyage, covering over 11,000 nautical miles across the Pacific, involved a 97,500 dwt LNG carrier.

Building on these achievements, demonstrations of the latest autonomous technology commenced in 2023 aboard a smaller domestic ship, the Ocean Nuri (69 tons). The Pos Singapore is now poised to take center stage, with plans to undertake its inaugural international demonstrations on a designated route starting in September 2024.