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Russia’s First LNG-Fueled Icebreaker to be Built at Helsinki Shipyard

Russia's first LNG icebreaker
Helsinki Shipyard has begun preparations to build Russia's first LNG-fueled icebreaker (Nornickel)

Published Jan 21, 2022 1:47 PM by The Maritime Executive

Preparations are beginning for the construction of Russia’s first LNG-fueled icebreaker. The vessel, which will also be the largest and most powerful diesel-electric icebreaker ever built in Finland, will be operated for mining giant Norilsk Nickel to support further expansion of shipping on Russia’s North Sea Route.

Helsinki Shipyard confirmed that along with Aker Arctic Technology efforts have begun in advance of construction which is expected to commence in the summer of 2022. Norilsk says the vessel is an important addition and must be ready in time for the winter season of 2025. The contract is significant for Helsinki Shipyard as it extends their current orderbook to the end of 2024.

“Receiving new icebreaker by the end of 2024 is very important for Nornickel as it provides additional transportation capacities needed to implement both our strategic investment projects including the city of Norilsk renovation plans,” said Senior Vice President of Norilsk Nickel Sergey Dubovitskiy. “We are happy to declare that it’s going to be fueled by LNG, which goes in line with current environmental trends on decarbonization and will be a pioneer icebreaker on LNG exploited at Northern Sea Route.”

Dimensions for the new icebreaker were not announced but the companies said it will be built for the class notation Icebreaker 8 of the Russian Maritime Register (RMRS) and it will be capable of breaking two-meter-thick snow-covered ice when operating either ahead or astern. The new icebreaker will have an integrated dual-fuel diesel-electric power plant, which can use both LNG and low-sulfur diesel oil and will also have facilities for transporting cargo and supporting helicopter operations.

The new vessel will be homeported in Murmansk to maintain a channel in Yenisei river for the Nornickel Arctic Expresses Arc7 ore carriers and to support a fleet of Arc5 class cargo ships with up to 20,000 tons deadweight that will also be operating in the region. The ship’s future operating area is the Yenisei River basin, Yenisei Bay, and the Kara Sea securing access to the Dudinka seaport.

Helsinki Shipyard reports that it has completed purchasing contracts for the main equipment and propulsion of Nornickel’s icebreaker and conducted model tests in ice and open water for the icebreaker design. The design work is proceeding according to the planned schedule.

Nornickel said the new icebreaker will complement its Arctic fleet, which consists of six Arc7-class reinforced ice-class vessels, including five containerships and one reinforced ice-class tanker. Further, development of new icebreakers is a critical part of the plan for the North Sea Route.

Russia is also building and commissioning a new class of nuclear icebreakers. The Baltic Shipyard recently completed the commissioning of Russia’s largest and most powerful nuclear icebreaker. An additional vessel is currently under construction while there is also discussion of at least two more vessels.

The goal is to develop a new fleet of icebreakers that will also replace older vessels that are scheduled for decommissioning before the end of this decade.