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Rosatomflot to Construct World’s Largest Nuclear Icebreaker

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Rosatomflot has revealed its plans to construct an LK60, the largest and most powerful nuclear icebreaker ever built, that will be deployed in the Northern Sea Route. Vyacheslav Ruksha, General Director of Rosatomflot, says to BarentsObserver.com that the estimated cost for a new icebreaker is € 1.1 billion (approx $ 1.4 billion) and is already included in Rosatomflots’s 2012 budget.

The tender for a new icebreaker will be announced this summer and the construction contract will probably be signed in September. If everything goes according to plan, the construction will commence by the end of 2012 and the newbuild might be ready for traffic by 2018.

Russia is the major player in deploying nuclear icebreakers for shipping in the Arctic and other freezing seas. The company wants to develop its fleet that would be a key element of the Northern Sea Route infrastructure thus the new generation nuclear icebreaker is being designed.

The LK60 icebreaker is designed to maneuver through three meters of ice with its supreme power of 60 MW. This is exactly what Rosatomflot needs to open the Northern Sea Route for commercial traffic all year around. Her draught varies ranging from 8.5 m to 10.8 m. The new design features maximum width of 34 meters, compared to the maximum of 30 meters width at the Arktika class vessels. Such a design will be capable of providing support to larger tankers through the northern sea route.

The LK60 icebreaker will replace one icebreaker of the Arktika class and one icebreaker of Taimyr class.

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Polarcus Alima: First Seismic Vessel to Pass along Northern Sea Route

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Polarcus Limited announced today that the Company’s ultra-modern 12-streamer 3D seismic vessel, POLARCUS ALIMA, has achieved a significant first in the seismic industry, having successfully transited to Asia-Pacific via the Northern Sea Route (NSR).

Her passage commenced on 15 September from Hammerfest in Norway after completion of seismic operations in the Barents Sea, taking her on a 3,000 nautical mile route along the northern coast of Russia to Cape Dezhnev in the Bering Straits.

The voyage was completed in just nine days. After passing the Bering Straits on 24 September POLARCUS ALIMA is presently continuing her onward passage to New Zealand to commence operations expected to run for up to 7 months in total. The voyage was made possible in part due to the vessel’s Arctic-ready capabilities, a unique feature of the Polarcus fleet in the seismic industry. Under the Russian Federation’s 1990 Regulations for Navigation on the Seaways of the Northern Sea Route, vessels making the passage are required to hold an ICE-1A or higher ice class.

The expected time savings in transit between Norway and New Zealand compared to the traditional route through the Panama Canal amounts to some eight days. The savings versus the Suez Canal, a necessity for some larger seismic vessels, amounts to thirteen days. The passage via the NSR therefore presents significant time-related benefits for Polarcus and its clients.

This is the first known passage of a 3D seismic vessel along the Northern Sea Route. Preparations for the voyage were carried out in close cooperation with Tschudi Arctic Transit AS through its Russian – Norwegian JV company Arctic Bulk AG, Atomflot, and the Northern Sea Route Administration in Moscow.

Commenting on the successful transit Rolf Rønningen, CEO Polarcus, said: “The successful navigation of Polarcus Alima along the Northern Sea Route has been achieved through the dedication and hard work of our in-house operations personnel, the Northern Sea Route Administration, and our crew onboard the seismic vessel. The result of this outstanding teamwork has been to achieve significant savings in fuel, emissions, and most significantly time during a milestone transit that effectively provides Polarcus a viable new sea bridge between two important operational markets.”

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