Viktor Chernomyrdin (icebreaker)
Early rendering of Viktor Chernomyrdin
|Ordered:||2 December 2011|
|Cost:||RUB 7.94 billion (contract) RUB 11 billion (2017 estimate)|
|Laid down:||10 October 2012|
|Launched:||30 December 2016|
|Completed:||December 2015 (contract date) June 2019 (current estimate)|
|Identification:||IMO number: 9658630|
|Displacement:||Approximately 22,000 tonnes|
|Length:||146.8 m (482 ft)|
|Beam:||29 m (95 ft) (maximum) 28.5 m (94 ft) (waterline)|
|Draft:||8.5–9.5 m (28–31 ft)|
|Ice class:||RMRS Icebreaker8|
|Installed power:||Four diesel engines (4 × 8,700 kW)|
|Propulsion:||Diesel-electric; centerline shaft (10 MW) and two ABB Azipod VI1600 propulsion units (2 × 7.5 MW)|
|Speed:||17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph) (maximum) 2 knots (3.7 km/h; 2.3 mph) in 2 m (7 ft) ice|
|Capacity:||Accommodation for 90 special personnel|
|Aviation facilities:||Two helipads and hangar for two helicopters|
Viktor Chernomyrdin (Russian: Виктору Черномырдину; also referred to as Project 22600 or LK-25) is a Russian icebreaker. When completed, the 22,000-ton icebreaker will be the largest diesel-powered icebreaker in the world.
The construction of the 7.94 billion ruble icebreaker was awarded to Baltiysky Zavod in St. Petersburg, Russia, in December 2011. Initially expected to enter service in late 2015, the project is now several years behind schedule and over budget, and the ship is expected to enter service by June 2019. In 2017, it was announced that the unfinished vessel would be moved to Admiralty Shipyard for outfitting in order to speed up the delivery.
Development and construction
The development of the icebreaker designated as LK-25 dates back to the first long-term plans for rebuilding the Russian icebreaker fleet after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. As part of these plans that were published in the early 1990s, a number of both conventional and nuclear-powered icebreaker designs were proposed, ranging from 7-megawatt auxiliary icebreakers (LK-7) operating near large ports to 110-megawatt nuclear icebreakers (LK-110N) capable of breaking ice up to 3.5 metres (11 ft) thick. Of these, the 25-megawatt line icebreakers (LK-25) were intended to escort merchant ships and lead convoys through freezing seas, and operate as auxiliary ships in complex convoys along the Northern Sea Route. During the summer season, they could also escort ships independently over shallow waters in the Arctic.
The current LK-25 design, Project 22600, was developed by the Russian Petrobalt Design Bureau in co-operation with the Finnish Aker Arctic which had developed the hybrid propulsion configuration. On 2 December 2011, Rosmorport and St. Petersburg-based Baltiysky Zavod signed a contract, worth RUB 7.94 billion of which 30% was paid in advance, for the construction of the 25-megawatt line icebreaker. The keel-laying ceremony, attended by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, was held on 10 October 2012. The construction of the 2,500-ton deckhouse was subcontracted to Nordic Yards in Germany. The ship was initially expected to enter service in the Gulf of Finland in December 2015 and replace two older icebreakers, the 1974-built Ermak and the 1977-built Kapitan Sorokin.
However, in November 2014 it was reported that the construction of the icebreaker had been suspended already in December 2013 due to problems with the design — the vessel was reportedly 2,500 tons overweight and subsequently the draft had increased by 0.7 metres (2.3 ft) — and the delivery had been delayed by 24 to 28 months until July 2017. An expert working group established by Baltiysky Zavod found discrepancies between the technical project documentation developed by Petrobalt Design Bureau and the structural drawings prepared by Central Design Bureau Iceberg, resulting in significant increase in steel weight. The shipyard then contracted another Russian company, Vympel Design Bureau, to modify the design so that the increase in draft would be limited to 15 to 20 centimetres (6 to 8 in). The contract with Nordic Yards for the construction of the superstructure was also cancelled.
On 26 January 2016, it was reported that an additional RUB 1 billion of funding would be required to complete the icebreaker due to the decline of the Russian ruble following the financial crisis. In addition, the United Shipbuilding Corporation was reportedly concerned about the shipyard's ability to deliver the icebreaker in 2017 due to the international sanctions against Russia. While in April 2016 a representative of the United Shipbuilding Corporation claimed that the icebreaker would be delivered "this year" and that the value of the contract had not changed, next month a representative of Rosmorport stated that "2018 is a reality". On 16 June, the president of the United Shipbuilding Corporation, Aleksey Rakhmanov, said that the vessel would be delivered in late 2017 or early 2018, and that the cost of the vessel has increased by RUB 1.5 billion. On 6 December, the vice-president of the company, Yevgeny Zagorodny, extended this to the fourth quarter of 2018. Due to extensive delays, the Federal Agency of Sea and River Transport of Russia (Rosmorrechflot) considered a lawsuit against the United Shipbuilding Corporation and demanded a penalty of RUB 667 million through the Moscow Arbitration Court in June 2016. By September, this had increased to RUB 1.2 billion. In March 2017, the delivery of the vessel was officially postponed to the end of 2018 by an order of the federal government, meaning that the United Shipbuilding Corporation would not be required to pay penalty for the delayed delivery of the vessel. In December 2017, it was reported that another RUB 870 million would be granted to the United Shipbuilding Corporation to cover for devaluation of the Russian ruble as well as other negative effects, adding to the RUB 700 million granted in January for the same purpose. The latest estimate for the total cost of the icebreaker is about RUB 11 billion.
On 1 July 2016, it was estimated that the technical readiness of Project 22600 was about 39.2% and the launching was scheduled for October of the same year. However, the launching was further delayed and the vessel was finally launched on 30 December 2016. In July 2017, it was announced that the unfinished icebreaker would be transferred to Admiralty Shipyard for outfitting in order to speed up the delivery of the vessel. According to the RUB 3.695 billion contract, the vessel must be delivered by 25 June 2019. In December 2017, the technical readiness was estimated to be about 55%.
The new icebreaker will be named after Viktor Chernomyrdin (1938–2010), the founder and first chairman of Gazprom and the former Prime Minister of Russia (1992–1998). In addition, he was the Acting President of Russia for a day in 1996 when President Boris Yeltsin underwent heart surgery.
Viktor Chernomyrdin will be 146.8 metres (482 ft) long overall and have a maximum moulded beam of 29 metres (95 ft). When ballasted to the maximum draught of 9.5 metres (31 ft), her displacement is approximately 22,000 tonnes. However, the vessel can also operate at a reduced draught of 8.5 metres (28 ft) in shallow waters. These main dimensions make Viktor Chernomyrdin the largest diesel-powered icebreaker in the world, second only to the Russian nuclear-powered icebreakers.
The new icebreaker will have a crew of 38 and additional accommodation for 90 special personnel. In addition to normal icebreaking and escorting tasks, Viktor Chernomyrdin will be equipped for emergency towing and rescue operations in open water, oil spill response, offshore and underwater construction projects, and fire fighting. To support technical work, the ship can be fitted with a 150-ton deck crane. The large superstructure will contain over 300 square metres (3,200 sq ft) of scientific laboratory space and a modular "diving complex" consisting of a diving chamber and other support systems built in standard-sized containers can be carried on the deck. An outboard lift will allow persons with limited physical abilities as well as compact equipment to be lowered directly to the sea ice. The icebreaker will have a small helipad in the bow for Kamov Ka-32 and Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma, and a larger helicopter deck and hangar capable of accommodating two heavier Mil Mi-8 and AgustaWestland AW101 in the aft.
Power and propulsion
Viktor Chernomyrdin will have a fully integrated diesel-electric propulsion system. Built according to the power plant principle, the four medium-speed diesel generating sets with an output of 8,700 kW (11,700 hp) each will produce electricity for all shipboard consumers from propulsion motors to hotel functions such as lighting and air conditioning. The propulsion system, developed by Aker Arctic and provided by ABB, will consist of two Azipod VI1600 azimuthing propulsion units (2 × 7.5 MW) and one centerline propeller shaft coupled to a fixed pitch propeller (10 MW). While she won't be as powerful as the Russian nuclear-powered icebreakers, among the existing diesel-electric icebreakers the 25 MW Viktor Chernomyrdin will be second only to the three 26.5-megawatt Ermak-class icebreakers built in the mid-1970s, one of which she is intended to replace. However, she will be less powerful than the most powerful non-nuclear icebreakers ever built, the gas turbine-powered Polar-class icebreakers operated by the United States Coast Guard, or the proposed 34 MW Canadian diesel-electric polar icebreaker CCGS John G. Diefenbaker.
Viktor Chernomyrdin is designed to be a double acting ship that is capable of proceeding continuously in compact ice field up to 2 metres (7 ft) thick with a 20-centimetre (8 in) snow cover at 2 knots (3.7 km/h; 2.3 mph) in both ahead and astern directions. In addition, the azimuthing propulsion units will give the vessel superior maneuverability to traditional icebreakers with shaftlines and rudders. The vessel is also fitted with an air-bubbling system that reduces friction between the hull and ice. In open water, the icebreaker will have a maximum speed of 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph).
Viktor Chernomyrdin will be classified by the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RMRS). The ice class, Icebreaker8, allows the new icebreaker to operate in Arctic seas with ice thickness up to 3 metres (10 ft). In addition, she has to be capable of continuous operations in compact ice field up to 2 metres (7 ft) in thickness. The icebreaker will be capable of operating in temperatures as low as −35 °C (−31 °F) for 60 days.
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