Icebreaker “Arktika” on maiden voyage | Polarjournal
The icebreaker “Arktika” has left St. Petersburg for test drives in the Arctic. (Photo: Anton Haas, St. Petersburg)

With only two of its three engines, Russia’s newest icebreaker “Arktika” is on its maiden voyage to the Arctic. The icebreaker departed from the Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg on September 22, 2020, heading north. Before the ship arrives at its home base Murmansk, it is tested for its ice performance in the Franz Josef Archipelago. According to the shipowner, the “Arktika” is scheduled to arrive in Murmansk by mid-October.

The “Arktika” at the pier of the Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg. Other icebreakers of the same series, the “Ural” (front) and the “Sibir” (rear) are also being built by the Baltic shipyard. The two ships are expected to be launched in 2024 and 2026. (Photo: Anton Haas, St. Petersburg)

The trip to Murmansk is controversial by experts, as the ship has only two of its three engines in operation. During the test voyages in the Baltic Sea in February 2020, a short circuit caused severe damage to the winding of one of the three electric motors on board the icebreaker “Arktika”. The test drive was then continued with only two working engines. As a result, one of the ship’s three propulsion propellers no longer works.

In a commentary by the director Andrey Zolotkov of the environmental organization Bellona Murmansk, he argued that the “Arktika” should have stayed in St. Petersburg until the engine is repaired. Zolotkov questions the manoeuvrability of a ship if one of three propellers does not work. “In order to reduce all risks, it would have been advisable to leave the “Arktika” in St. Petersburg and wait for the repair of the engine,” concludes Andrey Zolotkov.

The director of the environmental organization Bellona Andrej Zolotkov doubts whether it was reasonable to send the “Arktika” with only two engines into the Arctic. (Photo: Bellona)

For repairs, the “Arktika” must be moved to St. Petersburg

As reported by the Russian newspaper Kommersant, according to a commission of inquiry, the defective engine cannot be repaired on board the “Arktika”. The only way to replace the engine is to cut a hole in the hull. This is a comprehensive operation that can only be performed when the ship is docked. According to an article on Bellona’s portal, the weight of the 20 MW electric motor is 300 tons. Replacing the engine cannot happen before 2021.

The “Arktika” is Russia’s first LK-60 icebreaker (Project 22220), built to break 2.2 meters of ice. A further five ships of this class are to be built, which will be completed in the next few years. The last ship in the fleet, the “Chukotka”, is to be completed by 2027.

Lawsuits for late extradition

Three lawsuits with claims totaling almost one billion rubles (11.5 million euros) are currently in place. Few details about the content of the lawsuits have been released. Rosatomflot, which operates and maintains the fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers, is certainly not happy about the endless list of delays and technical flaws in the construction of the first three nuclear-powered icebreakers of Project 22220.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
error: Content is protected !!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This