Rosatomflot announces tender for additional two nuclear-powered icebreakers
Arctic sea ice is melting, but Moscow bids on increased need for powerful icebreakers.
The tender with a total value of 100 billion Rubles (€1,42 billion) is announced on the Russian official site for procurement information. Contracter is Atomflot, the state enterprise operating the fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers based in Murmansk.
The two new icebreakers are similar in design as the “Arktika”, “Sibir” and “Ural” that currently are at different stages of construction and testing at the Baltic Yard in St. Petersburg. First one to sail north next year is “Arktika” to be followed by “Sibir” in 2021 and “Ural” in 2022. Uranium fuel elements where loaded into the two reactors of “Arktika” in May this year and testing will now continue for some months at the yard.
The two additional icebreakers of the class have to be ready by December 20th 2024 and December 20th 2026 the tender details read.
With the formal announcement of the tender, it is now clear that Russia will get five of LK-60Ya nuclear-powered icebreakers. The icebreakers are the world’s most powerful civilian ships ever built. With an overall power of 175 MW the turbine-generators delivers 81,000 hp to the propellers.
Maximum icebreaking capability is 3 meters and the plan is to use these icebreakers on the eastern part of the Northern Sea Route, from the Yamal Peninsula towards Chukotka, where the ice-conditions normally are more sever than westbound from Yamal through the Kara Sea.
Although most likely given to the Baltic Yard in St. Petersburg, it is expected that both the Zvezda Shipyard in the Far East and the Kerch Shipyard by the Black Sea will bid on the tender, the shipping portal Korable.ru reports.
Russia’s ambitious plans to build nuclear-powered icebreakers follow the boost in shipping along the Northern Sea Route. First of all by special designed tankers transporting liquid natural gas (LNG) from the Yamal Peninsula to the markets in Asia and Europe. Also general shipping along the north coast of Siberia is on increase, both domestic voyages in Russia, but also transit voyages between Asia and Europe.
Today, Russia is the only country in the world operating a fleet of civilian nuclear-powered vessels. Additional to the five ships of the new LK-60Ya class to be put into service between 2020 and 2026, Rosatomflot has four icebreakers in operation today; the “Yamal”, “50 Let Pobedy”, “Taymyr” and “Vaygash”. Additional is the nuclear-powered container carrier “Sevmorput”.
Five older nuclear-powered icebreakers are taken out of operation; the “Lenin”, “Arktika”, “Sibir”, “Rossia” and “Sovyetsky Soyuz”.