Focus: Russia beefing up its ice-rated vessel fleet in the Arctic - Part II

Focus - Russia's Arctic Fleet
Focus: Russia beefing up its ice-rated vessel fleet in the Arctic - Part II
There has been an active build-up of the ice-rated ships fleet by Russia in support of its operations in the Arctic in recent years. Russia is developing several icebreakers differing in power and displacement, with some of them intended for the Navy. The efforts are especially important owing to the country’s ramping up its operations in the Arctic.
The First Project 21180 Icebreaker Ilya Muromets. Picture: JSC Admiralty ShipyardThe First Project 21180 Icebreaker Ilya Muromets. Picture: JSC Admiralty Shipyard
The Krylov State Research Center set up the Arctic Engineering Center (AEC) in 2016, according to Krylov’s Director General Vladimir Nikitin. He said the new division was continuously in touch with both major energy companies and the Russian Defense Ministry. A whole range of federal programs is being pursued as part of this cooperation, including the development of icebreakers, support vessels and other marine hardware.

Admiralty Wharfs laid the keel of the Russian Navy-ordered Project 21180 lead ship, the Ilya Muromets icebreaker, in St. Petersburg in April 2015 and launched it in June 2016. The icebreaker is planned for commissioning in the fall of 2017 after it passes its tests. The Ilya Muromets has become the first icebreaker being built for the Navy over the past 45 years. In the fall of 2017, it will head for the Northern Fleet, which Arctic operations it will support further down the road. The ship is able to lead surface combatants and auxiliary vessels through the ice or tow them, if need be. It is tripled-hatted as seagoing tug, icebreaker and patrol ship.

According to the non-nuclear icebreaker’s requirements specification, it will be able to negotiate 80-centimeter-thick ice. Presumably, its endurance will stand at 60 days, cruising range at 12,000 nm, displacement at 6,000 tons, length at 84 m, beam at 20 m and draft at 7 m. The Ilya Muromets is Russia’s first icebreaker with Azipod thrusters hinged outside of the hull and able to traverse 360 deg. Its crew will be 32.
Artist impression of nuclear powered icebreaker "Arktika" (project 22220)Artist impression of nuclear powered icebreaker "Arktika" (project 22220)
Image: Atomflot

At the same time, the Russian Navy has no plans for nuclear icebreakers. Hence, the ones owned by the Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation will be used in the interests of the military. In July 2016, Rosatom Director General Sergei Kiriyenko said the job of its advanced Project 22220 icebreakers included leading naval convoys in the Arctic. The Project 22220 class is important to Russia’s defense and competitiveness as far as the Northern Sea Route transit is concerned. The Baltic Shipyard laid down the lead ship in the class, the Arktika, in November 2013. The cost of the class is estimated at 122 billion rubles ($2 billion). Technologies totally novel to nuclear warships have been used as part of its construction. Its variable-depth dual draft will allow leading convoys both on the high seas and in estuaries while its sophisticated nuclear reactor will necessitate port calls for intermediate recharging less than once every six months. Presumably, the icebreaker will be able to do without reactor reloading for about seven years.

The Iceberg Design Bureau plans to deliver three Project 22220 nuclear-powered icebreakers prior to 2020. In addition, it is designing other advanced icebreakers, Iceberg Director General/Chief Designer Alexander Ryzhkov told TASS in December 2015.

"The Baltic Shipyard is building Project 22220 nuclear icebreakers. Three are to be delivered to government-owned Atomflot prior to 2020. These are unique vessels equipped an advanced monoblock reactor, a sophisticated steam-turbine plant, an electric propulsion system and latest automatic mechanisms. The icebreaker varies her draft within the 8.5-10.5-m bracket, which enables her to operate both on the Northern Sea Route and in the estuaries of Siberian rivers," Ryzhkov says.

With the 10.5-m maximum draft, the class has an ice-breaking capability of 2.8-3 m and, thus, is fit for operations in the east of the Arctic all year round. The solutions embodied by the Project 22220 icebreakers makes them fit for replacing two icebreaker classes simultaneously - the seagoing Project 10521 Yamal and 50 Let Pobedy and the shallow-draft Project 10580 Taimyr and Vaigach. Rosatom may order two more Project 22220 versatile icebreakers from the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), according to the materials the Industry and Trade Ministry prepared for a session of the government’s Arctic board.
Project 10510 Leader classProject 10510 Leader class
The Iceberg Design Bureau also is developing the world’s most powerful nuclear icebreaker of the Project 10510 Leader class. According to Ryzhkov, "its power is 120MW and its maximum ice-breaking capability equals 4.3 m, and if ice is 2 m thick, the ship can lead convoys at a speed of more than 11 knots, thus ensuring cost-effective traffic via the Northern Sea Route."

The cooperation with the Krylov Center has yielded the icebreaker’s conceptual design and ice tank tests have been conducted. Russian shipyards will be prepared to launch the construction of the 120MW icebreaker in 2017. According to Industry and Trade Deputy Minister Vassily Osmakov, some opine that the three icebreakers under construction will be able to meet only part of the needs of the region.

"Therefore, in order to maintain the leadership and be able to launch the program at the drop of a hat, the Iceberg Design Bureau came up with the conceptual design of the Leader icebreaker and has been working on the engineering design of the Leader LK-120 nuclear icebreaker. Its engineering design is due in December 2017. I think the completion of the engineering design will hasten the ship’s entry into production," he said. The construction may take three years and a half.

"We will be ready in terms of construction technology from late 2018," USC President Alexei Rakhmanov said. According to him, the job may be handled either by the Baltic Shipyard or by the Severnaya Verf Shipyard, with the outfitting to be performed by the Baltic Shipyard in the latter case. The engineering design is due by 2019 and the vessel is to be delivered by 2024.
The 40MW multirole offshore nuclear-powered Project 10570 classThe 40MW multirole offshore nuclear-powered Project 10570 class
Another icebreaker class being developed by Iceberg is the 40MW multirole offshore nuclear-powered Project 10570 class. Its design relies on the commonized basic platform vessel concept providing for versions differing in layout, hull, power plant, prop/steering unit, Dynpos-2 dynamic positioning system, to name just a few. The concept will allow developing icebreakers based on common design solutions and capable of a wide range of Arctic offshore works. This will reduce the design and construction costs.
Project 10081 Sevmorput nuclear-powered container carrierProject 10081 Sevmorput nuclear-powered container carrier
In addition, the Project 10081 Sevmorput nuclear-powered lighter/container carrier has been used in the interest of the Russian Defense Ministry. She is Russia’s only nuclear-powered icebreaker/carrier designed by the Baltsudoproyekt Design Bureau in 1978 and built by the Zaliv Shipyard in the city of Kerch by order of the Soviet government. After having been commissioned, the vessel operated both international and domestic services along the Northern Sea Route. She had been berthed in Murmansk since the 2000s before a decision to renovate her was made in 2013. The Sevmorput displaces 61,880 tons, measures 260 m long and produces 20.8 knots at full speed. Her main turbine-geared propulsion unit has a power of 29,480kW. The vessel carries 74 lighters with a carrying capacity of 300 tons or 1,328 cargo containers.

Andrei Obukhov, chief and chief designer of the Krylov Center’s Baltsudoproyekt division, said in September 2015 that the Sevmorput was being heavily upgraded for various purposes, including for the governmental Arctic development program. According to him, the Sevmorput can be used for many purposes, e.g. in support of transport security, because she is an ice-rated vessel able to haul cargo of various dimensions on the Northern Sea Route.
"In particular, the vessel may carry cargo for both under-construction and completed maritime facilities in the Arctic or remove hazardous waste via an ice cover 1 m thick," Obukhov stressed.

The upgrade launched in December 2013 had been ordered by Atomflot. The vessel was rebuilt in line with the latest stringent nuclear safety and environmental friendliness standards and was afforded advanced shipboard equipment for use in support of the construction and modernization of the airfields and posts throughout the Far North.

The press office of the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet said in May 2016 that the vessels charted by the military, including the Sevmorput lighter/container carrier, had started shipping cargo for the development of military infrastructure on Arctic islands. The Sevmorput brought from Murmansk to Kotelny Island (New Siberian Islands) 6,000 tons of construction materials for the Northern Shamrock military base.

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