It was reported in July 2012 that Russia plans construction of the world's largest nuclear-powered icebreaker by the end of 2017. The as-yet unnamed icebreaker - the first of the LK-60 model to be built - will be 173 meters long and 34 meters wide, some 14 meters longer and 4 meters wider than the current biggest icebreaker, the 50 Years of Victory. The displacement of the new vessel will be about 33,540 tonnes. It will have a draft of between 8.5 and 10.5 meters. These dimensions are all a bit larger than the preliminary design of 2006. The LK-60 - which will have a crew of 75 - will be capable of breaking through ice up to 2.8 meters thick at a speed of between 1.5 and 2 knots.
The LK-60 will be based around two RITM-200 pressurized water reactors to power a three shaft propulsion arrangement. The reactor design was developed by OKBM Afrikantov and integrates some main components into the reactor vessel and produces 60 MWe for the motor-driven propeller. The same design is foreseen as being incorporated in floating power plants. The reactor would operate on fuel enriched to less than 20% uranium-235 and require refuelling every seven years over a 40-year lifespan.
According to the tender announcement, construction of the vessel should begin in 2013, with the ship being launched in November 2015. Following outfitting of the ship, sea trials are scheduled for August 2017, with ice trials starting in November 2017. The vessel is to be delivered to the port of Murmansk by 30 December 2017. The initial maximum price set by RosAtomFlot for the contract is RUB 37 billion ($1.1 billion). The deadline for applications is 30 July, while a summing up of the contest will be held on 3 August.
"The estimated cost will include construction work, building a shipyard, etc. But the most expensive part of the icebreaker is the RITM-200 reactor and various pieces of know-how," Aleksey Kravchenko of OSK Shipbuilding Corporation told the Izvetya newspaper. He noted that the cost of subsequent LK-60 vessels would be some 30% lower. Rosatomflot refers to the LK-60 as being 'universal' as it can be used both in the open sea and on rivers. The new icebreaker is planned to be used in the western Arctic region, including in the Barents, Pechora and Kara seas, as well as in the shallower waters of the Yenisei River and Ob Bay. During the summer and autumn months it will operate in the eastern Arctic region.
The company's current fleet of four nuclear-powered icebreakers is slated to continue operation until 2020, working the freezing ports in Russia's Arctic coast and maintaining the Northern Sea Route. Rosatomflot also operates two nuclear-powered freighters, two floating technical bases, a radioactive waste ship and a radiation monitoring ship.
Several icebreaker projects are under way in Russia. One is a study of a Yamal-2 to replace Arktika. Russian research and design institutions - in co-operation with experts from Finland and Germany - have already carried-out a feasibility study for the development of a new generation of icebreakers. The basic designs for such new classes of ice-breakers have apparently been ready since around 1995. According to the St.Petersburg-based Central Marine Research and Design Institute (CNIIMF), the following types of new generation icebreakers should be examined:
- A lead icebreaker with the power of 100 MW to ensure year-round navigation on the NSR, including escorting large capacity cargo vessels along high-latitude routes (north of all the archipelagos). Such an ice-breaker would also be used as a rescue ship. Such icebreakers will have almost double the strength of today's largest ice-breakers, the 56 MW Arktika-class ice-breakers. This "super icebreaker" intended to ensure all-year navigation between Europe and Japan along the Russian Arctic coast.
- A universal ice-breaker with two draft modes of operation with 60 MW power, for support of navigation in the western area of the Arctic Region. Such an ice-breaker would be able to operate both in the sea, in the shallow shelf areas, and in river estuaries. The 60 MW nuclear ice-breaker is an especially interesting concept. With its wide 32.2 m beam and shallow 8.5 m minimum draft, it would be very versatile and able to replace both Arktika and shallow-draft Taymyr class ice-breakers and accommodate considerably larger cargo vessels.
- In addition, construction of a new line of 25 MW diesel-electrical icebreakers is being considered, as well as new port icebreakers.
As of 2006 it was planned that by 2014 the first of four new fourth-generation 60-MWe single-reactor Project LK-60 icebreakers were to be brought on line to replace some of the older ships. They would be designed by the nuclear industry, the Marine Fleet's Central Research Institute, and the Krylov Institute. These icebreakers would be able both to conduct convoy operations on the high seas and to work in shallow waters and in rivers. A nuclear Project LK-110 super-icebreaker with a capacity of 110 MWe was planned to enter operation by 2017. It would be able to go through 3-3.5 m of ice, and its main mission would be to lead convoys from Europe to the Pacific on a year-round basis.
The Russian Special Design Bureau for Mechanical Engineering (OKBM) is developing a new icebreaker reactor - RITM-200 - to replace the KLT reactors and to serve in floating nuclear power plants. This is an integral 210 MWt, 55 MWe PWR with inherent safety features. A single compact RITM-200 could replace twin KLT-40S (but yielding less total power). A major challenge is the reliability of steam generators and associated equipment which is much less accessible when inside the reactor pressure vessel.
It is supposed that icebreakers of the LK-60 type will be used for this purpose in the future. These icebreakers may operate both in coastal shelf areas and in the deep ocean. Engineers also plan to start developing icebreakers with new nuclear installations that will be able to guide convoys from Europe to America through the North Pole. As of 2007 plans to commence the construction of a new generation of nuclear-powered icebreakers, the Project LK-60Ya developed by the Central Design Bureau in St. Petersburg, within the next five years, had been announced. Russia had a projected need to construct three nuclear-power transport icebreakers with variable water draft and seven diesel transport icebreakers before 2020.
In 2009 Russia was planning to design nuclear icebreaker of new generation, Director General of Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation Sergey Kiriyenko said during a meeting with captains and chief mechanics of nuclear icebreakers. He said that the task of the new manager of Atomflot Vyacheslav Ruksha was to make necessary preparations for this project. Kiriyenko appointed Ruksha as director general of Atomflot on Friday. "Our key task for the moment is to reach agreements with major cargo carriers so as to determine the model of Atomflot's financial support," Kiriyenko said.
Kiriyenko said that this year the government will allocate additional money for the development of nuclear icebreaker fleet. "We did almost impossible thing: we changed the budget in the middle of the year. The budget earmarks 800mln RUR in 2008 with 400mln RUR to be allocated in July. Rosatom will have to substantiate the finding. Part of this money will be spent on raise in wages," Kiriyenko said. According to the program of the Transport Ministry, by 2015 the cargo turnover of the nuclear icebreaker fleet of Russia may grow eightfold to 16mln tons.
The government would make changes to the existing legislation so as to stop the practice of free of charge use of nuclear icebreakers along the Northern Sea Route. The tariff for this service would consist of two components: direct payment for transportation of cargoes and fee for infrastructure service of the state - opportunity to use the Northern Sea Route.
Russian specialists had designed a new type of reactor for icebreakers, Rhythm-200, which could replace the existing KLT reactors. A mock-up of nuclear icebreaker of new generation has been tested in the ice model basin of Krylov Shipbuilding Research Institute in St.Petersburg with the test being very much like real high-latitude navigation amid heavy ice. The director of the institute, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Valentin Pashin said in October 2008 that a group of specialists from Iceberg Design Bureau and colleagues from Finland were working on the technical project of the ship. The project was to ready in 2009. The vessel will most probably be built by Baltiyskiy Zavod, a facility that has built most of Russia's nuclear icebreakers. The series may consist of 3-4 icebreakers with a capacity of 60MW each (90,000 h p). The designers had suggested a number of new unprecedented technical solutions. The estimated cost of the project is 15bln RUR. The preliminary design of the "universal vessel with nuclear reactor" is ready. 190mln RUR was budgeted for this purpose in 2006, 264mln RUR - in 2007. In 2008-2009 the Government is planning to allocate 918mln RUR for the development of the technical project.
|Length, m||148.0||164.0||173 meters||193.6|
|Width, m||30.0||32.2||34 meters||38.0|
|Draft, m||11.0||10.5||8.5-10.5 meters||13.0|
|Displacement, t||23,500||32,400||33,540 tonnes||55,600|
|Type of powerplant||NPP||NPP||NPP|
2 x RITM-200
|Number of propellers||3||3||3||3|
|Icebreaking capability, m||2.25||2.9||2.8 meters @|
1.5 to 2 knots
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