Icebreaker “Arktika” in service again | Polarjournal
The “Arktika” has left Murmansk again after a lengthy repair. (Foto: Rosatom)

The most modern ship of Russia’s icebreaker fleet, the “Arktika” is underway again after a longer stay in Murmansk. The icebreaker had left Murmansk on February 21, having been at anchor for repairs since mid-December. According to the owner Rosatom, the “Arktika” was affected by a technical problem with its low-pressure cylinders.

The icebreaker rounded Novaya Zemlya on its way to Sabetta and reached the mouth of the Ob off Sabetta on February 25.

According to Rosatom Deputy General Director Vyacheslav Ruksha, the lack of a proper oil vapour extraction system in the low-pressure cylinders is said to have made it necessary to bring the icebreaker to Murmansk for repairs. The “Arktika” left Murmansk on February 21 for Sabetta and is scheduled to return to service as a pilot vessel as planned.

Icebreaker of the latest generation

Project 22220 icebreakers are currently the largest and most powerful icebreakers to be commissioned in the next few years. A total of 5 of these powerful ships are to be built. The first of this series, the “Arktika”, was launched months ago.

The new icebreakers are designed to escort vessels in the Arctic and tow ships and other floating structures in ice and open waters. The next ship in the line, the “Sibir”, is due to enter service at the end of 2021, while the last ship in the fleet, the “Chukotka”, is scheduled for completion at the end of 2026.

The “Arktika” will now resume pilotage services for cargo ships in the icy waters of the Arctic as planned. (Foto: Rosatom)

“Arktika” with various problems

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 motors.

As the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported at the time, the defective motor could not be repaired on board the “Arktika”, according to a inquiry panel. The only way to replace the motor was to cut a hole in the body. 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. Replacement will not take place before summer 2021.

With only two of its three motors, the “Arktika” then set off on its maiden voyage to the Arctic on September 22, 2020. Before arriving at home base Murmansk on October 12, 2020, the ship was tested for a short icebreaking ability with a voyage to the North Pole. In 21 days the “Arktika” covered about 4,800 nautical miles. Until the current repair, the icebreaker was underway during several missions in the Arctic.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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