Naval News reports that the world’s largest icebreaker, “Arkika,” has completed sea trials. This is the first of five Project 22220 nuclear powered icebreakers.
This class is quite remarked for its number of ships, their size, their speed, their power, and for their small crew size.
These are dual displacement icebreakers designed to operate in rivers as well as the Arctic Ocean, using huge amounts of ballast water.
- Displacement:33,530 t (33,000 long tons) (dwl) 25,540 t (25,140 long tons) (min)
- Length: 173.3 m (569 ft) (overall), 160.0 m (525 ft) waterline
- Beam: 34 m (112 ft) (maximum), 33 m (108 ft) waterline
- Draft: 10.5 m (34 ft) (dwl) 8.65 m (28 ft) (minimum; operational)
- Propulsion: three shafts, total 60 MW (80,461 HP)
- Speed: 22 knots.
- Crew: 75
Even larger Project 101510 ships, capable of breaking up to 4-metre-thick (13 ft) ice, are under construction. They will be 209 metres (686 ft) in length, with a beam of 47.7 metres (156 ft) with four shafts providing 120 megawatts (161,000 hp).
As the lead ship of the new class of nuclear-powered icebreakers nears completion, some criticism has also emerged. While the failed starboard propulsion motor will be replaced in a dry dock next year, some design faults may be more difficult to address particularly when two more hulls (“Sibir” and “Ural”) have already been launched, a fourth vessel has been laid down and fifth is on order.
Some time ago, I came across Russian-language articles titled, loosely translated, “Have our shipbuilders forgotten how to build icebreakers?” and “Yes, our shipbuilders have forgotten how to build icebreakers!” that highlighted severe issues with the Project 22220 design. According to these articles, Arktika has turned out to be several thousand tons overweight, increasing the minimum operating draught from the planned 8.65 m (28.4 ft) to 9.3 m (30.5 ft). This may not sound like much for the world’s largest nuclear-powered icebreaker, but the coastal areas and river estuaries in the Russian Arctic are very shallow and the ice there can be over 2 m (6.5 ft) thick; icebreakers have sometimes grounded themselves momentarily with just ice between the bottom and the seabed. In addition, the hull form has been said to be prone to the so-called “squat effect” at higher power levels. This essentially means that even if Arktika can make it to the shallow waters, it may not be able to utilize all that immense power without risking a “tail strike”. Criticism has also been voiced about cost-cutting measures such as dropping the stainless steel compound ice belt which would protect the hull from ice abrasion and, consequently, corrosion which in turn leads to loss of icebreaking capability due to higher hull-ice friction coefficient. The ships are also behind schedule and over budget; Arktika was supposed to enter service already in 2017.
Still, the Russians have managed to commission yet another civilian nuclear-powered vessel as well as a completely new reactor model (RITM-200).
One of three motors inoperative, but they intend to accept her anyway. On the way to new homeport. https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/36637/russias-new-icebreaker-the-worlds-largest-is-heading-to-the-arctic-for-the-first-time
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“According to information published by Tass on May 31, 2022, the Baltic Shipyard has started up the nuclear reactor of the Ural icebreaker of Project 22220.” http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/naval-news/naval-news-archive/2022/may/11780-russian-naval-shipyard-starts-up-nuclear-reactor-on-ural-icebreaker.html