Russian Icebreaker Under Construction in St. Petersburg Catches Fire, Two Injured

The diesel-electric icebreaker, Viktor Chernomyrdin, which was under construction at the Admiralty Shipyard in St. Petersburg caught fire injuring two people, TASS news agency reported.

“Two people were injured. One of them is a worker at Admiralty Shipyards, where the icebreaker is burning,” TASS quoted a source as saying.

Earlier reports said the fire engulfed an area of 300 square meters, on two decks out of five. Fifteen units of hardware and 75 specialists are putting out the fire, the press service of the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations said.

The fire alarm call came to the Crisis Management Center in St. Petersburg at 7 pm, Moscow time. Some 15 fire trucks and more than 75 firefighters were on scene to extinguish the flames. Unconfirmed reports say that a short circuit started the fire and led to the initial injuries.

The 22,000-ton Project 22600 icebreaker has been under construction since December 2012, and will be world’s largest and most powerful diesel-powered icebreaker. Only the Russian nuclear-powered icebreakers will be larger than this vessel.

Viktor Chernomyrdin will be 146.8 metres (482 ft) long overall and have a maximum moulded beam of 29 metres (95 ft). When ballasted to the maximum draught of 9.5 metres (31 ft), her displacement is approximately 22,000 tonnes. However, the vessel can also operate at a reduced draught of 8.5 metres (28 ft) in shallow waters.

The construction of the 7.94 billion ruble icebreaker was awarded to Baltiysky Zavod in St. Petersburg, Russia, in December 2011. Initially expected to enter service in late 2015, the project is now several years behind schedule and over budget. In 2017, it was announced that the unfinished vessel would be moved to Admiralty Shipyard for outfitting in order to speed up the delivery.

The vessel is expected to operate on the Northern Sea Route.

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