Vaygach (1989 icebreaker)

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Vaygach escorting Pavel Vavilov (2229984).jpg
Vaygach escorting Pavel Vavilov from the port of Sabetta in April 2015
Name: Vaygach (Вайгач)
Owner: Russian Federation
Operator: FSUE Atomflot
Port of registry:
Yard number: 475
Launched: 26 February 1988[1]
Commissioned: 1 August 1990[1]
Status: In active service
General characteristics
Class and type: Taymyr-class icebreaker
Displacement: 21,000 tons[2]
Length: 151.8 m (498 ft)[2]
Beam: 29.2 m (96 ft)[2]
Draught: 7.5–9.0 m (24.6–29.5 ft)[3]
Depth: 15.68 m (51.4 ft)
Ice class: RMRS LL2
Installed power: KLT-40M nuclear reactor (171 MW)[2]
Two GTA 6421-OM5 turbogenerators (2 × 18,400 kW)
Propulsion: Nuclear-turbo-electric (AC/AC)
Three shafts (3 × 12 MW);[3] 4-bladed fixed pitch propellers
Speed: 18.5 knots (34.3 km/h; 21.3 mph) (maximum)[2]
Endurance: 7.5 months[2]
Crew: 100+
Aircraft carried: 1 × Ka-32 helicopter
Aviation facilities: Helipad and hangar for one helicopter

Vaygach (Russian: Вайгач, IPA: [vɐjˈɡatɕ]) is a shallow-draught nuclear-powered icebreaker. She was built in 1989 for the Soviet Union by Wärtsilä Marine Helsinki Shipyard in Finland by order of the Murmansk Shipping Company. Her sister ship is Taymyr.


2011 fire[edit]

On 15 December 2011, two crew members died and a third one was seriously injured in a fire on board Vaygach while the icebreaker was escorting merchant ships from Dudinka to Murmansk. The fire, which started in one of the crew cabins presumably due to negligence and was extinguished by the crew by 04:00 Moscow time, did not cause any damage to the ship's nuclear reactor.[4]


General characteristics[edit]

While Vaygach is slightly smaller than the Arktika-class nuclear icebreakers, with an overall length of nearly 150 metres (490 ft) and beam of 28 metres (92 ft) she is still among the largest polar icebreakers ever built. At the maximum draught of 9 metres (30 ft), Vaygach has a displacement of 21,000 tons.[2] However, she can also operate at a reduced draught of only 7.5 metres (25 ft).[3][5]

Vaygach has a traditional icebreaker hull with highly raked stem and sloping sides to reduce the ice loads in compressive ice fields and improve maneuverability. The special cold-resistant steel used in the hull was delivered by the Soviet Union. Although designed for a crew of slightly over 100, the large superstructure of Vaygach contains accommodation and facilities for 138 personnel. In addition to messes and other social premises, there is a large auditorium that doubles as a recreational room and a winter garden that can be used to provide fresh vegetables for the crew during the polar night. In the aft, there is a helideck and a hangar for single Kamov Ka-32 helicopter. Being an escort icebreaker, Vaygach is equipped with a standard towing winch and a stern notch for close towing in difficult conditions.[3]

Vaygach is classified by the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping with the Russian ice class LL2, which means that she is intended for icebreaking operations on Arctic coastal routes in level ice up to 2 metres (6.6 ft) thick during winter and spring.[6] The shallow draught of the icebreaker allows it to operate in rivers, estuaries and other locations where the water is not deep enough for bigger Arktika-class icebreakers and the ice conditions are so severe that refueling of diesel-powered icebreakers would be difficult, even impossible.[3]

When the Taymyr-class icebreakers were designed, considerable effort was put into improving the safety of these nuclear-powered ships. The vessels were designed to operate in areas where there might be only 80 centimetres (31 in) of water beneath the keel, less than the thickness of the ice floes the icebreaking bow is pushing under the ship. The scenarios used for structural dimensioning of the reactor compartment and shielding included a 25,000-ton SA-15 class freighter striking the icebreaker amidships at 7 knots (13 km/h; 8.1 mph). Furthermore, all critical systems are duplicated to improve reliability and allow the ship to maintain most of its operational capability after a collision.[3]

Power and propulsion[edit]

Vaygach is powered by a single KLT-40M nuclear fission reactor located amidships with a thermal output of 171 MW.[2] The nuclear power plant on board the icebreaker produces superheated steam, which is used to generate electricity for the propulsion motors and other shipboard consumers as well as heat to maintain operational capability at −50 °C (−58 °F). Vaygach has two main turbogenerators aft of the reactor compartment consisting of Soviet-made steam turbines coupled to Siemens generators, each producing 18,400 kW of electricity at 3,000 rpm for the propulsion motors. In addition the ship has two auxiliary turbogenerators, manufactured in the Soviet Union, which produce 2,000 kW of electrical power for shipboard consumers.[3]

Vaygach has a nuclear-turbo-electric powertrain, in which steam produced by the nuclear reactor is converted first into electricity, which in turn rotates the propulsion motors coupled to the propellers. The ship has three shafts with 12,000 kW (16,000 hp) Strömberg AC motors controlled by cycloconverters. The propulsion motors are coupled directly to four-bladed fixed pitch propellers rotating at 180 rpm. The ship can maintain a speed of 18.5 knots (34.3 km/h; 21.3 mph) in open water[2] and 3 knots (5.6 km/h; 3.5 mph) in 2.2-metre (7 ft) level ice.[5]

If the nuclear power can not be utilized, electricity can also be produced by three 16-cylinder Wärtsilä 16V22 medium-speed diesel engines coupled to 3,200 kVA Strömberg alternators. Two of the three generating sets, located ahead of the reactor compartment under the superstructure, can be used to provide approximately 4 MW of power for the propulsion motors while the third takes care of the auxiliary load. In case of emergency Vaygach also has two 200 kW emergency diesel generators of Soviet origin.[3]

Vaygach and her sister ship are one of the last icebreakers equipped with Wärtsilä Air Bubbling System (WABS). When pressurized air released from nozzles located below the waterline, it lubricates the hull and, by reducing friction between steel and ice, improves the ship's ability to operate in difficult ice conditions such as pressure ridges and reduces the risk of becoming stuck in ice.

Interior view

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Вайгач". Retrieved 10 October 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Atomic Icebreakers Technical Data". Retrieved 10 October 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Atomivoimalla päin ahtojäitä. Navigator 4/88. Pages 32–37.
  4. ^ Fire on board of nuclear icebreaker Vaygach, two crew died. Maritime Bulletin, 15 December 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-14.
  5. ^ a b Arctic Passion News 1/2013. Aker Arctic. Retrieved 2013-06-14.
  6. ^ Class notations of a ship. Rules for classification Classification and Construction of Sea-Going Ships, Volume 1, Chapter 2.2. Russian Maritime Register of Shipping, 2008.

External links[edit]