Rumors have been circulating for some time that Rosatomflot needs more icebreakers. Only recently, the contracts for two more ships have now been signed. Like their five predecessors, the new commissioned Project 22220 nuclear icebreakers will be powered by twin RITM-200 reactors. The new generation of icebreakers will become the backbone of the Russian icebreaking fleet as older icebreakers need to be replaced. The new icebreakers are being built to enable year-round navigation along the Northern Sea Route.
To date, Baltic Shipyard has delivered three general-purpose Project 22220 icebreakers to operators. The first was the “Arktika”, which entered service on October 21, 2020 and gave its name to the entire series. This was followed by the nuclear icebreakers “Sibir” and “Ural”. Two more nuclear-powered ships, “Yakutia” and “Chukotka,” are under construction and are scheduled for delivery in 2024 and 2027.
The signing of the contract is an extremely important event with regard to the renewal of the Russian icebreaker fleet, thanks to which cargo traffic on the Northern Sea Route has increased significantly in recent years. For Baltic Shipyard, the expansion of the project can hardly be underestimated.
Under the terms of the contract, the new icebreakers are scheduled to enter service in December 2028 and late 2030, respectively. Shipbuilders plan to begin cutting metal in the second half of this year. The names of the future icebreakers have not yet been announced.
Mass of the icebreaker: length – 174 m, width – 34 m, draft 10.5 m / 9.3 m, power – 60 MW (81,500 hp), displacement – 33.54 thousand tons, crew – 54 people.
A special feature of the Project 22220 icebreakers is the use of variable draft with the help of ballast tanks. Vessels with this feature can operate in both deep water and shallow waters such as riverbeds, breaking through ice up to 3 meters thick.
The main icebreaker power plant includes two RITM-200 reactors, each with a capacity of 175 MW. Its main advantage over other similar reactors is its compactness and efficiency. The design of the reactors allows to work reliably with the rolling of the nuclear ship with a lateral oscillation of 45 degrees and pitching of 15 degrees. The planned lifetime of the reactors is 40 years.
In view of the increase in cargo traffic expected from Russia along the Northern Sea route, Rosatom is ever-expanding the group of icebreakers. Their number should reach 17 units by 2030, the state company announced earlier. Currently, in addition to orders at Baltic Shipyard, the icebreaker “Leader” is being built at Zvezda Shipyard in Bolshoy Kamen.
According to the Kremlin’s plan, annual cargo volumes along the route, also known as the Northeast Passage, should reach 80 million tons in 2024, 150 million tons in 2030 and 220 million tons in 2035. In recent years, however, the specified figures have not been met for various reasons.
Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal
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