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Yakutia nuclear-powered icebreaker is launched into water

The Yakutia is the fourth vessel of project 22220

ST. PETERSBURG, November 28. /TASS/. The Yakutia nuclear-powered icebreaker was launched into the water at the Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin participated in the ceremony via a video link.

Yakutia is one of the new universal nuclear icebreakers of project 22220. These vessels are the largest and most powerful icebreakers in the world. Under the project, which has been implemented since 2013, the country will build five vessels. The Arktika and the Sibir have joined the Russian nuclear fleet.

"USC (the United Shipbuilding Corporation) and Rosatom have been working on the world's largest series of most powerful icebreakers in compliance with your initiative, Vladimir Vladimirovich. The project has set a long-term benchmark for the development of shipbuilding, and we have resumed practically from scratch unique technologies and competencies and have created new jobs," the corporation's CEO Alexey Rakhmanov said.

The nuclear units and almost all the basic equipment have been installed on the Yakutia, and the works will continue on the water, after the icebreaker is launched, he added.

Icebreaker series

In 2009, the Iceberg Central Design Bureau finalized the technical design of the world's most powerful nuclear icebreaker, and three years later, Atomflot (a nuclear fleet authority) signed a contract on building the first vessel of project 22220. The term from the contract to commissioning of the project's lead nuclear-powered icebreaker, the Arktika, was eight years. Since 2020, the icebreaker has been smashing through ice, leading vessels along the Northern Sea Route.

"Since I am not receiving calls from captains (of project 22220 icebreakers - TASS), clearly they (the icebreakers) are working efficiently and reliably. There have been problems with the lead order, but that's what it is to be leading - to work through all technical and technological solutions. We have taken into account all comments and drawbacks," Alexey Rakhmanov told reporters on Tuesday.

The first serial icebreaker, where the lead vessel's experience had been taken into account, was the Sibir. In early 2022, this nuclear-powered vessel joined the fleet on the Northern Sea Route. The third project-22220 nuclear-powered icebreaker, the Ural, will begin working in the Arctic in December.

The icebreakers can lead caravans of ships in up to three-meter thick ice and through hard-to-reach areas of the Eastern Arctic directly to the Asia-Pacific Region's ports. The power is 60 MW, each vessel's length is 173.3 m, width - 34 m, displacement - 33,500 tons.

RITM-200 reactor

The powerful icebreakers are equipped with the newest Russian-made RITM-200 reactors, developed at Rosatom's engineering division. Each icebreaker has two nuclear reactors of the kind.

RITM-200 is twice lighter, one and a half times more compact and produces 25 MW more than reactors used for icebreaker fleet. The reactor's service life is 40 years.

Deputy Prime Minister Viktoria Abramchenko at the Yakutia launch ceremony stressed all icebreakers of this project meet high environmental standards. Replacement of a pullout block is excluded during the service life, and the radiation level inside the icebreaker is lower than the natural radiation background, she said.

Project's future

The Yakutia is the fourth (third serial) vessel of project 22220. After the launch, the icebreaker will be completed at the Baltic Shipyard's special embankment. Parallel to this, the plant in St. Petersburg continues building the fifth (fourth serial) icebreaker - the Chukotka. Its commissioning is due in 2026.

This fifth icebreaker will not wrap up the project. Before end of this year, Rosatom will ink contracts with the Baltic Shipyard on building the fifth and sixth icebreakers of project 22220, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov said at the Yakutia's launching ceremony.

The next two nuclear-powered icebreakers do not have names yet, USC CEO Alexey Rakhmanov told TASS. However, in his opinion, ideally four more icebreakers of this class are needed for the Northern Sea Route to ensure navigation in the Russian Arctic and also to give a new impetus to the development of shipbuilding in St. Petersburg.

"We cannot underestimate the contribution of St. Petersburg as a center of Arctic competencies, where these unique vessels are created, where highly professional specialists are trained for the Arctic, and where operates a large-scale scientific, production and research base. The Northern capital (St. Petersburg) is an integral part of the Russian North," German Shirokov, chairman of the St. Petersburg Committee for Arctic Affairs, said in a conversation with TASS.