Construction starts for new giant icebreaker

The current sketch for the next generation of nuclear icebreakers, which has been named the LK60-class. (Illustration: Rosatomflot)

MURMANSK: LK60-class will be the largest and most powerfull nuclear icebreaker ever built, making it possible for commercial traffic through the Northern Sea Route all year around. The construction starts at the end of this year.


General Director of Rosatomflot, Vyacheslav Ruksha says to that the expenses for a new icebreaker are already on Rosatomflots´s 2012 budget, with an estimated cost of € 1.1 billion. The company plans to announce the tender for a new icebreaker this summer.

In traffic 2018
“If everything goes as planned we will sign a construction contract in September and hopefully the constructing of the ship can start by the end of 2012,” says Ruksha and continues;

”We believe the ship will be ready for traffic in the Northern Sea Route and other waters by 2018”.

Mikhail Belkin, assistant to the Director General of Rosatomflot, says that building a nuclear icebreaker is very complicated. Therefore they have to plan for a six year construction period of the new generation vessels.

“It is of course possible for us to use foreign as well as Russian ship yards for this work. We have previously done parts of the construction in Finnish ship yards with good experiences,” says Belkin.

The nuclear icebreaker “Vaygach” was built in the Helsinki Shipyard “Wartsila Marine”, while the nuclear reactor for this ship was installed at Baltiysky Shipyard in St Petersburg. It is Baltiysky Shipyard which has built most of Rosatomflot’s icebreakers, among them the last icebreaker in the fleet, “50 Let Pobedy”. This vessel was commissioned in 2007.

General Director of Rosatomflot, Vyacheslav Rucksa
General Director of Rosatomflot, Vyacheslav Ruksha, hope the construction of a new icebreaker can start by the end of 2012. (Photo: Jonas Karlsbakk)

Replacing Arktika class
It was during the international conference, Transit Navigation on the Northern Sea Route, in Murmansk, organized by Center for High North Logistics, that Ruksha presented Russia’s plans for a new generation of nuclear icebreakers.

At present Russia plays the leading role in the use of nuclear icebreakers to provide shipping in the Arctic and other freezing seas. To successfully operate in the Arctic the company is planning on developing their fleet that represents a key element of the Northern Sea Route infrastructure.

For this purpose the new generation nuclear icebreaker is being designed. The LK60 icebreakers will have the overall power of 60 MW with variable draught from 8.5 m to 10.8 m. It will replace one icebreaker of the Arktika class and one icebreaker of Taimyr class, according to Rosatomflots website.

Year around
One of the key changes in the construction of the new icebreaker is that it is wider than the current icebreakers. LK60 will have a maximum width of 34 meters, compared to the maximum of 30 meters width at the Arktika class vessels. With such design it will be possible to support larger tankers through the northern sea route.

With its supreme power the LK60 will be able to manoeuvre through three meters of ice, making it possible for Rosatomflot to open the Northern Sea Route for commercial traffic all year around. However, there are some factors which must be considered before this could be a reality.

“There would have to be done evaluations first on the environmental and practical aspects related to all year traffic, but the possibilities are definitely there,” says Ruksha.