MOSCOW, October 18 (Itar-Tass) —— The St. Petersburg Iceberg Bureau has designed three nuclear-powered icebreakers with the 60-megawatt propulsion unit for the round-the-year transit of cargo along the Northern Sea Route, Rosatomflot deputy head Andrei Smirnov told a press conference in Moscow on Tuesday.
“The total value of the ships exceeds 90 billion rubles,” he said.
The innovative icebreakers will replace the icebreakers of Arktika Project, which are currently in use. They will intensify the shipping along the Northern Sea Route. “The ships travel from 45 to 50 days by the southern corridor, from the West to the East. The travel time reduces to 28 days in the case of the Northern Sea Route,” he said.
“The innovative nuclear-powered icebreakers with the draught of up to eleven meters will be able to cross ice strips with the thickness of up to four meters. Arktika icebreakers guarantees shipping through ice fields with a twice smaller thickness,” he said.
Estimates showed that three dual-draught icebreakers could meet transportation needs in the Kara Sea instead of five traditional icebreakers, which would cut construction costs.
Presumably, the new ships may be built at the Baltic Shipyards in St. Petersburg or at Sevmash in Severodvinsk, Smirnov said.
Baltiysky Zavod is a leading national shipbuilder, which celebrated the 150th anniversary in 2006. Since the day of its foundation, the shipyard has been among the first to undertake new shipbuilding projects. The shipyard built the first metal ship in Russia - armored gunboat the Opyt (1862), the first Russian submarine designed by Ivan Alexandrovsky (1866), the first armor-clad Admiral Lazarev (1871), and the first naval submarine Delfin (1904). In the 1920s Baltiysky Zavod was among the pioneers in the Soviet Union to begin building diesel-electric icebreakers, and in 1980s - heavy nuclear-powered missile cruisers of Project 1144 Orlan.
Currently the Baltiysky Zavod shipyard specializes in the construction of icebreakers and ice-classed vessels (with nuclear-powered propulsion, as well as conventionally powered), large commercial vessels and naval ships. The company also manufactures a wide range of marine propulsion equipment and machinery, heat exchanges for nuclear power plants and non-ferrous and core-mould castings.
Over the recent years Baltiysky Zavod has delivered ships to customers from Russia, Germany, Holland, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, and some other countries.
The Sevmash shipyard is a component of the United Shipbuilding Corporation. It is the largest shipbuilding enterprise in Russia and the only shipyard of the country, the main task of which is atomic submarines building for Navy. The enterprise, occupying the area of more than 300 hectares, includes in its structure more than 100 subdivisions.
More than 25,000 people work on the basic enterprise of Severodvinsk.
From 45 surface ships, 163 submarines (among them 128 have nuclear power units), have been built on Sevmash since 1939.
Civil production manufacturing is focused on the oil and gas projects on the Arctic offshore zone. Sevmash specialists also take part in construction of surface fields of Russian North - manufacturing of industrial and accommodation modules, equipment for oil production, oil and gas pipeline and other objects inspection.
More than 100 civil vessels of different classes and purposes have been built since 1990 (tugs, mini-bulk carriers, pontoons, barges, fish farms) for foreign customers.
A record cargo traffic along the Northern Sea Route since the late 1980s may be achieved in 2011, Smirnov said.
“The cargo traffic along the Northern Sea Route reached its maximum of practically seven million tonnes in the late 1980s. It dropped to less than 1.5 million tonnes or almost five times in the 1990s. The cargo traffic began its slow recovery afterwards. It reached 2.3 million tonnes last year. Hopefully, this year’s target of 3 million tonnes will be achieved,” he said.
The shipping season continues, and vessels are moving along the Northern Sea Route, Smirnov said.
Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov forecasted the 3 million tonne cargo traffic along the Northern Sea Route in 2011 earlier.
Foreign ship owners are increasingly interested in the transit route, which cuts the travel distance by almost a third as compared with the Suez route, Smirnov said. “The Northern Sea Route opened to foreign ships in 1991. Yet foreign ship owners took an interest in the route only in 2009. Three foreign vessels passed along the Northern Sea Route that year. Last year some 110,000 tonnes of cargo were transited. We expect the transit of about 800,000 tonnes this year,” he said.
The administration of the Northern Sea Route has received plenty of applications from interested companies for the next shipping season, Smirnov said.
The Northern Sea Route is a shipping lane from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean specifically running along the Russian Arctic coast from Murmansk on the Barents Sea, along Siberia, to the Bering Strait and Far East. The entire route lies in Arctic waters and parts are free of ice for only two months per year.
The motivation to navigate the North East Passage was initially economic. In Russia the idea of a possible seaway connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific was first put forward by the diplomat Gerasimov in 1525.
Several seaports along the route are ice-free all year round. They are, west to east, Murmansk on the Kola Peninsula, and on Russia's Pacific seaboard Petropavlovsk in Kamchatka, Vanino, Nakhodka, and Vladivostok. Arctic ports are generally usable July to October, or, such as Dudinka, are served by nuclear powered icebreakers.