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Russia needs at least three Leader icebreakers for Northern Sea Route

The Leader is a project of new-generation icebreakers that can work their way through the Arctic

NARYAN-MAR, June 20. /TASS/. Russia should build at least three Leader icebreakers for the year-round navigation along the Northern Sea Route, Director on Shipping of the nuclear fleet's authority, Atomflot, Andrei Smirnov said during a conference on winter supplies on Tuesday.

The Leader is a project of new-generation icebreakers of 120 MW, which can work across the Arctic practically without any problems.

"One Leader icebreaker is not a solution, we need a series, like the series of 70,000-icebreakers, which is being built now," he said. "The 300-meter giant Leader, which is about 50 meters wide, will have commercial economic speed in any ice in the Arctic, and thus they will solve the tsk of year-round and transit navigation along the entire Northern Sea Route and of delivering gas and gas condensate to South-Eastern Asia, to the Pacific region."

"Our specialists have made calculations, showing we must have at least three icebreakers like Leader," he added.

Russia's four nuclear icebreakers now are working practically year round, with the exception for a few summer months, when they are exploited for the winter supplies. They have orders to serve Russia's major projects, like Yamal LNG, Gazprom Neft and Norilsk Nickel.

"Using icebreakers would be safe and reasonable - this is clear, but where can we find at least 240 billion rubles ($4.2 billion) to build three icebreakers? Making fewer is not reasonable. What one icebreaker is doing - even with its speed of 10-12 nautical knots a one-way trip will take ten days, and for Yamal LNG's first, second and third stages only we have 245 trips planned already,; this means every day and a half a gas carrier would be leaving the Sabetta port. Thus, this program (of building icebreakers) should be bigger," he explained.

Earlier, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said the nuclear energy corporation Rosatom and shipbuilders are optimistic about the Leader project.

The icebreaker could provide year-round use of the Northern Sea Route both along the western and eastern routes to take hydrocarbons, he said. The power of the biggest icebreaker, which the Baltic plant is building now, is 60MW.