The Thor Heyerdahl International Maritime Award was established in 1999 by Thor Heyerdahl and the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association. The award recognizes candidates who have demonstrated exceptional technical innovation and environmental work in line with Thor Heyerdahl's spirit.

Deputy CEO Lars Jacob Engelsen accepted the award on behalf of Norled.

- We are very honoured to accept the Thor Heyerdahl Award. We see this as an inspiration and a recognition of the significance of the silent revolution that is turning the ferry-sector from grey to green at a rapid pace, and we are very proud to be an igniting factor in this process. Our aim is to be the frontrunner, always keeping innovation as an integral part of our DNA, Lars Jacob Engelsen, deputy CEO of Norled said.

In its reasoning, the expert committee said that Norled is once again introducing another type of zero emission technology to the ferry sector. In 2015, the company introduced the first electric ferry MF Ampere. Now, with a contract to put one of the world’s first hydrogen-fuelled ferries on water by 2021, they accelerate the green shift in the maritime industry. This project brings expertise and technology, and eventually operational experience and infrastructure, and paves the way for other projects. The winner is lauded not only for the ship itself, but for the learning and signal effect.

- We hope the hydrogen-ferry will become an icon, just like MF Ampere. We also believe it can contribute to green transformation within shipping and also beyond the ferry-sector, Engelsen said.

The expert committee gave a special mention to Statens Vegvesen (the Norwegian Public Roads Administration) for their role in promoting new low and zero emission technology in the ferry sector.

Norled also emphasized the importance of collaboration between different stakeholders when developing and implementing new technology.

 -To us this is a recognition of a collaborative effort between Statens Vegvesen, an impressive cluster of suppliers and ourselves. We are very grateful for both the courage and the high level of trust that makes these innovation processes feasible, Engelsen said.

President Lasse Kristoffersen of the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association presented the award on behalf of the expert committee.

-By building one of the world’s first hydrogen ferries, Norled presents a possible solution to one of the biggest challenges faced by the shipping industry; greenhouse gas and global warming. To realize the green shift, we need pioneers and collaboration throughout the industry. This award reflects the challenges of our time and Norled is thus a worthy winner of the award, Kristoffersen said.

The three finalists:

  • Norled: for the zero-emission hydrogen ferry. As one of the very first hydrogen-fueled ships worldwide, the project paves the way for development of technology and better understanding of safety, risks, rules and operations.
  • Tara Expeditions Foundation: for 11 expedition voyages to all corners of the world. The expedition team provides first class research on the link between the ocean and mankind, biodiversity and the climate, in line with Thor Heyerdahl’s spirit.
  • Silverstream Technologies: for their air lubrication system, a thin carpet of air bubbles reducing the frictional resistance of ships. The system cuts fuel consumption and emissions and can be fitted to sailing ships as well as new buildings.

 Members of the expert committee:

  • Thor Heyerdahl jr.
    Sissel Rogne, CEO, Institute of Marine Research
    Jan-Gunnar Winther, Director, Centre for the Ocean and the Arctic
    Nina Jensen, Director, REV Ocean
    Jan Kjetil Paulsen, Senior Advisor, Shipping, Bellona
    Esben Poulsson, Chairman, International Chamber of Shipping
    Jens Ulltveit-Moe, former CEO, UMOE
    Emilie Christiansen, former President, Youngship
    Sveinung Oftedal, Senior Advisor, Ministry of Climate and Environment
    Jon Rysst, SVP, DNV GL
    Gunnar Malm Gamlem, Environmental Director, Norwegian Shipowners' Association (the committee's secretary)

For more information, please contact:

Marianne Frønsdal, communications director in Norled at + 47 95 12 93 83, or e-mail:

Benedikte Næss, communications advisor, Norwegian Shipowners’ Association at +47 95 23 13 32, or e-mail:

Published: 09-04-2019