Work begins on world’s largest nuclear-powered ice breaker

The world’s largest universal nuclear-powered icebreaker is planned to be completed by 2017. Source: Itar-Tass

The world’s largest universal nuclear-powered icebreaker is planned to be completed by 2017. Source: Itar-Tass

The ship is being built by the Baltiysky Zavod shipyard in St Petersburg, and should be ready by 2017.

Russia has started building the world’s largest universal nuclear-powered icebreaker capable of navigating in the Arctic and in the shallow waters of Siberian rivers. The unique vessel will further increase Russia’s dominance in the region.

The 173m ship is being built by the Baltiysky Zavod shipyard in St Petersburg, and is planned to be completed by 2017. Once finished the ship will be 14 metres longer and 4 metres wider than the current record holder, “50 year Victory” that is 159 metres long and 30 metres  wide.

"There is no doubt that this work will be completed on time and in good quality," said the head of "United Shipbuilding Corporation" Vladimir Shmakov.

In August 2012 Atomflot – a sister company of Rosatom signed a 37 billion rouble ($1.2 billion) contract to begin construction of a "universal" vessel. According to the general director of Atomflot Vyacheslav Ruksha, the Icebreaker LK-60 Project 22220 vessel is likely to be called the "Arctic".

Powered by two “RITM-200” pressurized water reactors the “Arctic” is being built to generate 175MWe. Its efficiency and power allows the new model to crack ice fields 3 metres thick.

The Arctic will be granted the highest ice class – 9, meaning the ship will be able to break ice in the Arctic area all year round.

The new design will allow the icebreaker to alter its draught, or the depth of the loaded vessel in the water between 8.5 to 10.8 metres. This will enable the ship to navigate the shallow waters of Siberian rivers as well as the Arctic and tow ships of up to 70,000 tonnes.

Atomflot has also announced an 80 million rouble ($2.5 billion) tender for the construction of two similar class icebreakers which will be announced in the near future, and their delivery to the Navy is expected sometime between 2018 and 2020. The main objectives of these new icebreakers would be servicing the Northern Sea Route and carrying out various expeditions to the Arctic.

Constructions of new icebreakers are important for Moscow as Russia is continuing to collect data to expand its continental shelf borders in the Arctic. The US, Canada, Norway, and Denmark and Iceland have also announced claims to exclusive economic rights on the Arctic shelf. Russia argues that “Lomonosov Ridge” is an extension of Siberia’s shelf, and therefore belongs to Russia exclusively.

Russia, the only country with nuclear powered icebreakers, currently has 5 vessels cruising the Arctic, built between 1985 and 2007.

Russian companies also use "Vaygach" and "Taymyr", two shallow-draft nuclear-powered icebreakers to navigate Siberia’s frozen rivers. 

First published in RT.com.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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