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Russia Starts Building First Nuclear-Powered Icebreaker Since Soviet Era

Russia’s nuclear icebreaker fleet currently numbers six nuclear icebreakers - all of them laid down in Soviet times

  • New ship will be 173.3 meters long, 34 meters wide and have a displacement of 33,540 metric tons.

ST. PETERSBURG, May 26, (TASS) - The Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg has started building the Sibir - the first serial nuclear icebreaker of Project 22220 for the Rosatom state corporation.

The icebreaker was laid down on Tuesday in the presence of Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Rosatom Director General Sergey Kiriyenko.

<figcaption>Сomputer-generated image of the Arktika Project 22220 icebreaker (archive) | Photo: ATOMFLOT/HANDOUT</figcaption>
Сomputer-generated image of the Arktika Project 22220 icebreaker (archive) | Photo: ATOMFLOT/HANDOUT

"Our country has many opportunities in the Arctic. But we should enter there not empty-handed but well-armed with technology and knowledge, modern vessels and communications systems to feel comfortable," Rogozin said. "We need vessels of this class."

The contract to build two serial nuclear icebreakers of Project 22220, worth 84.4 billion rubles ($1.7 billion) was signed between the Baltic Shipyard and Rosatom in May 2014. The construction of the head ship of Project 22220 Arktika has been underway at the shipyard since 2013.

"Work on the head nuclear icebreaker is proceeding successfully. Today we realize well that through joint efforts we will be able to cope with the tasks set before us by the state," Kiriyenko said.

The engineering design of the atom-powered vessel was developed by Central Design Bureau Iceberg in 2009. In comparison with the previous generation of icebreakers, the vessel has augmented performance in terms of power and displacement.

The icebreaker will be 173.3 meters long, 34 meters wide. Its draft by design waterline will be 10.5 meters, and the minimum working draft 8.55 m. It will have a displacement of 33,540 metric tons. The icebreaker has a two-reactor power unit with the key source of steam from the new-generation 175-megawatt RITM-200 reactor unit specially designed for the vessel.

The two-draft structure of the vessel makes it possible to use it both in arctic waters and at the mouths of polar rivers. The icebreaker will work in the western area of the Arctic: in the Barents, Pechora and Kara seas, as well as at more shallow-water sections of the mouth of the Yenisei and in the area of the Gulf of Ob.

According to Rosatom, Russia’s nuclear icebreaker fleet currently numbers six nuclear icebreakers, one container carrier and four service ships. The fleet’s task is to ensure stable operation of the Northern Sea Route as well as access to areas of the Extreme North and the arctic shelf.

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