Published 2020-08-31 00:00:00
Russia begins building world’s most powerful icebreaker

Russia’s Zvezda shipyard has begun construction of the first ‘Leader’-class nuclear icebreaker named Russia, one of the first of a fleet that Russia plans to build by 2035 in a bid to improve ship safety in the Arctic. The Russian nuclear corporation Rosatom said the vessel is slated to become operational in 2027 to escort merchant vessels on the Northern Sea Route (NSR).

The new ‘Leader’-class icebreakers will be able to cut through a 4.3 m-thick ice sheet and stay at sea for eight months without entering a port. With a 120 MW power plant, the icebreaker will become the world’s most powerful.

By 2035, Rosatom plans to build five LK-60 nuclear icebreakers, three ‘Leader’-class nuclear icebreakers, four icebreakers on liquefied natural gas, 59 tankers, 21 bulkers, and 15 liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers, the company said.

All tankers, bulkers, and carriers are planned to have an enhanced ice class, which means they would be able to navigate in the Arctic during summer months without the assistance of icebreakers.

By 2024, the Russian government also plans to expand the research and rescue fleet on the NSR with two multifunctional vessels with an 18 MW power plant, three with 7 MW, one with 4 MW, and 10 firefighting tugs. Rosatom announced plans in March 2020 to build three research and rescue centres in the Arctic in addition to the five existing ones.

Implementing these plans, Rosatom would ensure year-round safe navigation on the NSR, said Alexey Likhachev, general director of Rosatom, during a meeting at Rosatom’s Public Council on 16 July

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