Russia’s newest nuclear-powered icebreaker, the Arktika, will start operating in the Arctic waters of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) in December after the vessel’s acceptance and delivery certificate was signed on Wednesday.
According to Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, who visited the flag-raising ceremony in Murmansk, the deployment of the nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet “will ensure Russia’s supremacy in the Arctic and facilitate further development of the Northern Sea Route as a crucial transport corridor.”
Russia is “the undisputed leader in the development of the northern territories,” said the prime minister, adding “We are proud that Russia is the only country in the world that was able to develop a nuclear icebreaker fleet. And now we are accepting another universal nuclear icebreaker, the Arktika… The icebreaker has innovative equipment, a powerful engine, which allows it to be used everywhere – in ice, deep water, and shallow trails.”
The Arktika completed its transit from St. Petersburg to its homeport in Murmansk on October 12. It covered about 4,900 nautical miles within 21 days, including around 1,030 miles sailing through the ice.
The planning of the lead icebreaker of Project 22220, the Arktika, started at the Baltiysky Zavod shipyard on November 5, 2013, with construction launched on June 16, 2016. In 2021, the vessel will be equipped with a new electric propulsion motor on the starboard side to raise the ship’s power capacity to 60 megawatts.
Project 22220 ships will be the world’s largest and most powerful nuclear-powered icebreakers. The vessels’ dual-draft concept allows for them to be operated both in the Arctic and in the mouths of the polar rivers. Two more nuclear-powered icebreakers under the project will be put into operation in the coming years.
The series of Project 22220 icebreakers will provide for year-round navigation in the western Arctic, which will make it possible to achieve the required level of cargo shipping along the Northern Sea Route.
While the Arktika is capable of breaking three-meter-thick ice, the new Leader-class icebreakers will be able to cut through a 4.3-meter-thick ice sheet, as well as staying at sea for eight months without entering a port. The new icebreakers will pack twice as much punch, boasting a 120-MWatt powerplant, double the power output of the Arktika.
The dimensions of the Leader-class icebreaker are impressive as well. The ship will be over 210 meters long – slightly less than two football pitches, and 47 meters tall, equal to a 13-story building.