Russia to Build Three Giant Nuc-Powered Icebreakers by 2020

Bellona.org is reporting the expected award of a contract for three new generation Nuclear Powered Icebreakers that would be the most powerful in the world. The first of class is expected to enter service in 2017 followed by two more in 2019 and 2020.

10 thoughts on “Russia to Build Three Giant Nuc-Powered Icebreakers by 2020

  1. Outstanding! I know nuclear power doesn’t get much love these days. But when you look back to the 50s and 60s and read of the optimism there was for the perceived benefits that nuclear powered merchantman would bring you can’t help that one day it may happen.

    • X – The USN found that nuclear-powered ships weren’t all that great. Building, refueling and disposal costs are so high that, even though those things are done rarely, it’s no more efficient/cheaper than burning fossil fuel. (See the Virginia-class CGNs reasons for early decommissioning.)

      Where nuclear power makes sense is where there is a strong operational need, such as submarines, carriers (to preserve fuel space for the aircraft and reduce unreps), and, I think, icebreakers. (Of course, the US isn’t going to build any WAGBNs, because Congress sees icebreakers only as research ships and ships which support resupply in the Antarctic. No military or commercial usefulness. So not worth the $$ to build nuclear ones. We know that’s wrong, but…)

      The only question/concern I have is whether the Russians/Soviets have learned their lesson about reactor cooling. If not, these will be billion-dollar boondoggles… Again…

      • Theoretical 50mw thorium reactor generating 50mw wouldn’t be that large. As I said hope for the future not what went before. Perhaps being a sailor used to the limitless wind I feel anchored by fossil fuels? Not just literally to the barge but figuratively to an age that will be soon passing. Next time I visit one of our T-boats I will think about what you said,

      • Replying to x’s message, the thermal output of the RITM-200 nuclear reactors is probably around 150-200 MW each.

  2. @ TRO

    Thank you. I believe Ford have 1.3 ltr petrol engines available and GM have made some 6.5 lt ltr engines. Not sure why you are telling me that somebody has a 150MW reactor when all I said was a THEORETICAL 50MW wouldn’t be that large.

    I leave one off the cuff positive reply to one small news item and the whackdoodles come out to play to show their (lack of) intellectual might.

    Not sure I will bother in future.

    • I don’t remember why I said that, but one of my points probably was that one should consider the overall efficiency of the reactor as well. If my memory serves me right, the Russian icebreakers will have two of those reactors. Still, their propulsion power is limited to 60 MW. Add some auxiliary load into that and throw in overall efficiency of the electrical system, and you’ll know how much of that nuclear power can be turned into “usable” energy.

      Thus, a 50 MW reactor seems quite small for this kind of vessel, or you need a whole bunch of them.

      As for Ford’s engines, I have one of those 1.3-litre engines. It propels my 900 kg car quite nicely.

  3. In addition to “civilian” icebreakers, Russia is now also building icebreaking vessels to its navy:

    http://www.bairdmaritime.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=16405:russia-to-initiate-production-of-military-icebreakers&catid=73&Itemid=65

    “It is still unclear what weaponry the new ship will have. The designs of all Russian icebreakers constructed in the times of the Soviet Union were very flexible, allowing for the rapid installation and re-installation of various different fit outs, in case of large-scale war. However, the new types of icebreakers will be permanently equipped with some weaponry.

    According to Russian analysts, icebreakers will probably be equipped with a number of self-defence armaments, in particular small-calibre anti-aircraft artillery and heavy machine guns, which do not take up much space. They may be also installed with missile launchers.”

    In another article, you can find a picture of the upcoming vessels:

    http://en.portnews.ru/news/193768/

    They probably share some features with the icebreaking rescue vessels currently under construction in Germany:

    http://en.portnews.ru/news/193598/

    • The keel of the first vessel has now been laid:

      http://en.portnews.ru/news/198622/

      “ILYA MUROMETS is the first icebreaker in Russia fitted with Azipod propulsion units housed in a submerged pod outside the ship hull and can rotate rotate 360 degrees about the vertical axis, thereby providing greater hydrodynamic and mechanical efficiency, enabling the ship to sail freely both forward, backward and sideways.”

      Since propulsion systems are considered dual-use equipment and the end-user is the Russian Navy, I doubt ABB is allowed to sell Azipod units to this vessel. The propulsion units are probably locally-produced Z-drive thrusters.

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