Russia Signs Contract to Build a Monster Nuclear Icebreaker the Size of a Supercarrier

Twice the size and power of the currently largest and most powerful atomic icebreaker (also Russia's)

At 70,000 tons its displacement will be equal to that of a Forrestal-class supercarrier

Rosatom Press Release:

On April 23, Rosatom subsidiary FSUE Atomflot and shipbuilder Zvezda LLC remotely signed a contract on the construction of the nuclear icebreaker Leader (project 10510); the parties were respectively located in Murmansk and Vladivostok.

The document was signed by FSUE Atomflot general director Mustafa Kashka and Zvezda LLC general director Sergey Tseluyko. Zvezda shipbuilding complex is the sole contractor for this Rosatom-commissioned project. As per the terms of the contract, the vessel is expected to be commissioned in 2027.

The nuclear icebreaker, Leader, will be built in accordance with technical specifications delineated by the central design bureau Iceberg and will be equipped with RITM-400 nuclear reactors developed by Rosatom subsidiary, JSC Afrikantov OKBM.

Main characteristics of project 10510’s nuclear icebreaker:

  • Power capacity: 120 MW (on propeller shafts);
  • Maximal speed: 22 knots (in clear water);
  • Length: 209 metres; – Width: 47.7 metres;
  • Maximal ice penetration: 4 metres;
  • Displacement: about 69,700 tonnes.

Main power equipment of project 10510:

  • A nuclear power system equipped with two RITM-400 reactors;
  • A steam turbine unit equipped with four turbo-generators, each with a power capacity of 37 MW;
  • An electric propulsion system equipped with four propeller motors, each with a power capacity of 30 MW.

Rosatomflot operates the world’s only nuclear icebreaker fleet. The Zvezda shipbuilding complex is based in the city of Bolshoi Kamen of Russia’s Primorsky Territory and is overseen by Rosneft.

Naval News Comment:

According to Russian media, the Leader will be able to break through ice with maximum thickness of 4.3 meters and lead cargo vessels at a speed of 11 knots in two-meter thick ice thus ensuring efficient navigation along the Northern Sea Route. Thanks to the vessel, Russia will be able to turn the sea route into a permanently operating waterway as it would provide year-round support to vessels on schedule regardless of weather conditions and ice situation. The icebreaker will be crucial for transporting oil from Yamal deposits to Asian and Pacific Ocean countries.

The new icebreaker will have a capacity of 120MW and will be the only vessel in the world to operate all year round along the Northern Sea Route in over 4-meter thick ice. At present the most powerful icebreaker is the LK-60 (60MW) of project 22220. The lead nuclear icebreaker of project 22220, “Arktika” started sea trials in December 2019.

Source: Naval News

TASS Report:

The icebreaker has to become operational in 2027 when the economic crisis is likely to end and the competition of the global players for Polar resources and the shortest Northern Sea Route from the Pacific to the Atlantic would resume.

Historically, Russia enjoys a priority in the Arctic development, but other countries may ignore it if there is nothing to back the claim. The Russian Defense Ministry copes with the task and is rebuilding military infrastructure in the Arctic. Another argument is a powerful icebreaker fleet to ensure full-scale activities in the Arctic in conditions of global warming.

An unequalled group of icebreakers has ensured Russian economic interests in Arctic latitudes until recently. The United States and China announced the construction of icebreakers and ice-class vessels, including warships for Arctic operations.

Iceberg Design Bureau produced the project of a new Russian nuclear icebreaker. It will be powered by RITM-400 reactor created by OKBM Africantov bureau in Nizhny Novgorod. It is a leading enterprise of Rosatom nuclear corporation.

Project 10510 icebreaker will lead big-displacement vessels with a deadweight of over 100000 tons and a width of over 50 meters along the Northern Sea Route year-round. The propulsion is provided by four four-blade fixed-pitch propellers. The Leader can break 4.3-meter thick ice at the minimal stable speed of 1.5-2 knots. The speed in 2-meter thick ice is 12 knots. The food stocks allow the icebreaker to sail for eight months. The crew comprises 127 men. The life cycle is 40 years, the displacement is close to 71380 tons.

The Leader is the first icebreaker in the world capable of operating in the Northern Sea Route year-round. Rosatom plans to build three icebreakers by 2033. The Industry and Trade Ministry estimated the first Leader to cost 127.5 billion rubles. [Under $2 billion at the current exchange rate.] The construction of two other icebreakers is to be jointly financed by the federal budget and Rosatom. Concession is another option, as all Arctic developers, including private enterprise, are interested in the protection of their Arctic interests, expert Vasily Dandykin said.

The Leader is to be the most powerful vessel of the class in the world. Besides, three icebreakers of project 22220 are being built in St. Petersburg and the lead one is undergoing trials. They belong to the third generation. The fourth-generation Leader does not fear 4-meter thick ice along the whole Northern Sea Route which will be in demand after the crisis. It is the shortest and cheapest way from Asia to Europe.

“It is clear that the Leader and other icebreakers will lead not only tankers and container carriers along the Northern Sea Route. The year-round navigation gives the Defense Ministry an opportunity to redeploy forces from the west to the east and back in a period of threat. It is important on the background of growing military ambitions of the United States and NATO. The Leader icebreaker is thus a major argument for Arctic claims,” Dandykin said.

Much depends on the shipbuilding industry which lost a lot after the Soviet collapse and is experiencing hard times. However, the revival trend has shaped out. The Arktika icebreaker has to begin operations shortly followed by the Sibir and the Ural icebreakers which have been floated. The Yamal and the 50 Years of Victory icebreakers operate in Arctic latitudes. The Ilya Muromets diesel-electric icebreaker of project 21180 and the Ivan Papanin ice-class escort ship of project 23550 were built for the Navy.

The construction of the Leader icebreaker by Zvezda Shipyard means the enterprise is capable of building supertankers and aircraft carriers, the Zvezda said.

Source: TASS

  1. Pablo Rivera says

    Besides bad coffee, I didn’t knew that they make nuclear vessels on gas stations

  2. cechas vodobenikov says

    another trade advantage that will reduce energy and time required for vessels traveling between Asia and Europe—the amerikans can use the antiquated Panama Canal—one of their many imperialistic thefts

    1. David Bedford says

      Russia is becoming the powerhouse it once used to be and with the help of China they will become a force for good around the world.

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