Russia’s Arktika Nuclear-Powered Icebreaker Starts Sea Trials

Russia’s Project 22220 LK-60Ya-class nuclear-powered heavy icebreaker Arktika left Baltic Shipyard in St Petersburg to begin the first stage of sea trials on Dec. 12.

The first stage of the trials will last four days in the Gulf of Finland. The trials will test the navigation and electrical systems, and maneuvering characteristics of the vessel, but not the nuclear reactors.

Arktika (Russian: Арктика, ‘Arktika’ meaning “Arctic”) is the lead ship of the Project 22220 nuclear-powered icebreakers under construction at Baltic Shipyard, part of United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), in Saint Petersburg.

The vessel was laid down in November 2013 and was launched on 16 June 2016. The icebreaker is now 95 percent complete and is expected to be handed over to the customer in May 2020.

Project 22220 icebreakers have an overall length of 173 m, breadth of 34 m, design draught is 10.5 m and a minimal operating draught of 8.55 m. The dual-draught design will enable ships to operate in both Arctic waters and mouths of polar rivers. The ships have a displacement of 33,540 tonnes or 25,450 tonnes without ballast.

Once entering service, Project 22220 vessels will be the largest and most powerful icebreakers ever constructed, surpassing their predecessors, Arktika class nuclear-powered icebreakers.

The vessels will be equipped with two RITM-200 nuclear reactors, with a thermal capacity of 175 MW each. The propulsion power of this class of ships will be 60 MW which is why this class is sometimes referred to as LK-60.

The icebreakers have been classified by the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RMRS) as the ice class, Icebreaker9. The maximum icebreaking capability of project 22220 vessels is 3.0 m and they are intended for the Northern Sea Route along the Russian Arctic coast.

The first ship of the class, Arktika (Arctic), was laid down on 5 November 2013 and was launched on 16 June 2016. The second ship of this class, Sibir (Siberia), was laid down on 26 May 2015 and was launched on 22 September 2017. The construction of the third vessel, Ural started on 25 July 2016 and she was launched in May this year.

In July 2018, it was announced Russian Defence Ministry intends to place an order for additional two project 22220 icebreakers, for a total of five vessels to be constructed at Baltic Shipyard. The cost for the two vessels is estimated at RUB100 billion ($US1.5 billion).

The new vessels will be operated by FSUE Atomflot (Rosatomflot), part of the Rosatom State Corporation. FSUE Atomflot maintains the world’s only fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers. In addition to cargo transportation along the Northern Sea Route, the Atomflot organizes tourist cruises, the profit from which amounts to 6-7% of the company’s total profit.

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