Laser Icebreaker?

Project 23550, Ivan Papanin class icebreaking patrol vessel, with towing capability and containerized cruise missiles.

The National Interest is reporting that the Russians are planning to use lasers as a way to facilitate icebreaking.

…. “Later this year, scientists aboard the Dixon, a Russian diesel-powered icebreaker operating in the White Sea, will begin testing of a 30-kilowatt ship-based laser, designed specifically for easing the movement of ships operating in the Arctic environment,” Sputnik News said. “The project involves experts from the Moscow-based Astrofizika Design Institute, with the assistance of St. Petersburg’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.”

A Russian physicist told Russian media that the new laser is designed as an ice cutter rather than a weapon. “We’re talking about easing as much as possible navigation through northern regions. In addition, it’s necessary to test empirically calculations, create the system, measure energy consumption and calculate many other parameters. For the first stage this is enough.”

The author of the post may be a bit confused. He refers to,

More details are emerging about Russia’s trump card for control of the Arctic: laser-armed, nuclear-powered “combat icebreakers.”

But he refers to the Project 23550 (Ivan Papanin) class icebreaking patrol vessels which we talked about earlier, armed but relatively small (for an icebreaker) and definitely not nuclear powered icebreaking patrol ships with provision for mounting containerized cruise missiles.

The author seems to have assumed that the laser could also be used as a weapon although the mounting and targeting requirements for a laser weapon would be much different.

Despite the author’s apparent confusion, this is the first I have heard of using lasers to facilitate icebreaking. Using one to open a crack in the ice before the bow hits might be worthwhile. Whether it is even feasible ought to be something that could be determined mathematically.

Sounds like something worth looking at.

Naval Research Lab Develops New Paint

Port side view of USS Essex (LHD 2) after full application of an NRL-developed 1K polysiloxane topcoat in 2017.

NavalToday is reporting that the Naval Research Laboratory has developed a new topside paint that will last longer and is both cheaper and easy to apply. Now it has had its first large-scale application, USS Essex.

Single-component refers to an all-in-one-can system that does not require the measuring and mixing of two or more components before application, thus providing a “user-friendly” system for Sailors when applying on ships.

“The 1K polysiloxane is easy to use. There is no mixing, surface preparation is easy, and it covers well,” said Lt. j.g. Donald Ham, Essex’s Assistant Deck Department Head. “We painted our entire hull with approximately 320 gallons of the 1K, whereas it would have taken greater quantities of qualified two-component (2K) polysiloxanes. Thus, we not only saved time, but we saved money. The best part is that the 1K polysiloxane rolls-on the ship just like the legacy silicone alkyds.”

New Zealand and Chile Agree on SAR responsibility

New Zealand and Chile agree on SAR responsibility

NavalToday reports New Zealand and Chile have concluded an agreement delineating SAR responsibility over an area of roughly 60 million square kilometers that extends all the way to the South Pole and includes area Coast Guard Polar Icebreakers will routinely transit on the way to Antarctica.

Ultimately this may have some impact on territorial claims to Antarctica.

International Court of Arbitration Rules for Green Peace over Russia

Green Peace Photo and Caption. “A Russian Coast guard officer is seen pointing a knife at a Greenpeace International activist as five activists attempt to climb the ‘Prirazlomnaya,’ an oil platform operated by Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom platform in Russias Pechora Sea.” 

gCaptain reports,

Russia rejected a ruling by an international arbitration court which said Moscow must pay damages for seizing a Dutch-flagged Greenpeace vessel, saying on Thursday that the decision would only encourage illegal protests.

We tracked this incident earlier. In this case I think the Russians may have a point. It is very difficult to distinguish between a “peaceful protest” that involves what may appear to be an assault and an actual attack.

The Russians may have made a mistake in not participating in the proceedings.

Russia had originally declined to take part in arbitration, arguing that it was acting within its sovereign rights to seize the ship in international waters where Russia enjoys exclusive economic rights.

The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise departs from Murmansk, Russia, August 1, 2014. The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise departs from Murmansk, Russia, August 1, 2014. Photo (c) Dmitri Sharomov/Greenpeace

World Maritime Fleets–UN

The UN has issued an interesting short report on the status of the World’s merchant fleets. I am going to quote it below.

Top 5 ship owners are Greece, Japan, China, Germany and Singapore. Together they have a market share of 49.5% of dwt. Only one country from Latin America (Brazil) is among the top 35 ship owning countries, and none from Africa.

Top 5 flag registries are Panama, Liberia, Marshall Islands, China Hong Kong SAR and Singapore. Together they have a market share of 57.8%. Developing countries flag more than 76% of the world fleet in dwt. In terms of vessel types, bulk carriers account for 42.8% of dwt, followed by oil tankers (28.7%), Container ships (13.2%), other types (11.3%) and general cargo ships (4%).

Only three countries (Republic of Korea, China and Japan) constructed 91.8% of world tonnage (GT) in 2016. Republic of Korea had the largest share with 38.1%.

Four countries (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and China) together accounted for 94.9% of ship scrapping in 2016 (GT).

The data confirms a continued trend of industry consolidation, where different countries specialize in different maritime sub-sectors, as analyzed in UNCTAD’s Review of Maritime Transport 2016 and a special chapter of the 2011 Review. It also confirms the growing participation of developing countries in many maritime sectors.

For more information, please contact Jan Hoffmann, Trade Logistics Branch, Division on Technology and Logistics, UNCTAD.

Thanks to Bryant’s Maritime Consulting blog for bringing this to my attention.