Nuclear giant goes out to the Northern Sea route

Igor Savelyev - Chief of PR department Baltiysky Zavod JSC

The construction of the largest nuclear-powered icebreaker in the world – the 50 Let Pobedy – has been completed by Baltiysky Zavod, JSC. Since its foundation, this legendary shipyard has built more icebreakers than any other single shipbuilding company in the world. In 1920s, Baltiysky Zavod was the first in the Soviet Union to start building diesel-powered icebreakers, and in 1970s – icebreakers equipped with the second-generation nuclear-powered propulsion plants. Today Baltiysky Zavod, JSC is the only Russian shipyard involved in the construction of the Russian icebreaking fleet.

The 50 Let Pobedy is the eighth nuclear-powered icebreaker built at Baltiysky Zavod, JSC, the sixth in the series of the Arktika class icebreakers (Project 1052), and the forth in the series of modernized nuclear-powered icebreakers of the second-generation (Project 10521). This series was started by the icebreaker Rossia commissioned in 1985. The next one was the Sovetskiy Soyuz delivered in 1989. In 1986 the shipyard began the construction of the Yamal nuclear-powered icebreaker initially christened as the Oktyabrskaya Revoliutsia, which was delivered in 1992.

The keel of the 50 Let Pobedy, which was first named the Ural, was laid at Baltiysky Zavod in October 1989. Four years later the ship was launched, but because of the economic crisis that plagued Russia in 1994, outfitting of the icebreaker was halted. In order to keep the vessel alive and make it possible to complete outfitting in the future, Baltiysky Zavod had to carry out preservation of the icebreaker at its own cost. In spite of deep financial problems common for that time, the shipyard managed to maintain its production facilities, unique technologies and highly qualified personnel.

The outfitting work on the icebreaker was resumed only in the late 1990s, when financing of the construction was partially recommenced. In February 2003, the construction entered the most active phase, when the contract for outfitting the icebreaker was signed between Baltiysky Zavod, JSC and the State Directorate for Sea Transport Development Programs.

Since the vessel’s sea valves and ship systems were fitted back in the early 1990s, it was necessary to carry out revision of these systems in the course of construction. For the first time in the history of Russian shipbuilding Baltiysky Zavod specialists had to undertake docking of a newbuilding icebreaker. Earlier the docking of nuclear-powered icebreakers had been carried out only after several years of service by ship repairing yards of the Murmansk region. The customer in this case was always an operating company, and not a shipbuilding one.

During the period of construction the specialists of Baltiysky Zavod loaded nuclear fuel onboard the ship (this type of energy source enables icebreakers to have practically unlimited navigation range without refueling). Nuclear reactors on the icebreaker were first launched during the vessels’ harbor trials in 2006.

The state sea trials of the 50 Let Pobedy were successfully carried out by Baltiysky Zavod, JSC in February 2007. The icebreaker’s speed and maneuverability were tested in open waters. Also the trials were conducted for navigation and communication systems, desalination plant, steering and anchor gears, and other ship equipment that could not be tested in harbor. The State Trials Commission confirmed that the trials proved the compliance of the ship systems and equipment with the rules of the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RMRS), as well as international standards and regulations.

The 50 Let Pobedy features a new spoon bow implemented in an icebreaker design for the first time ever. Designers claim that it is intended to help the vessel break the ice more efficiently. The ship’s length is 159 m, beam – 30 m, full displacement – 25,000 t, and speed – 18 knots. The maximum ice thickness that the vessel is able to break is 2.8 m. The icebreaker is equipped with two nuclear power plants generating 75,000 hp transmitted to the propulsion system. The ship’s company is 138 men.

The icebreaker features a new-generation digital automatic control system and an array of special equipment ensuring nuclear and radiation safety of the ship’s nuclear power plant complying with the regulator’s requirements. There is also а waste treatment room equipped with latest waste collection and utilization systems.

The icebreaker has a gym, a pool, a library, a comfortable restaurant and a music club with a dance floor.

The construction of the icebreaker was overseen by the Inspection for Nuclear-Powered Vessels of the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping.

Baltiysky Zavod, JSC continues building icebreakers for the government needs. In 2004 the shipyard won an international tender held by Rosmorport State Unitary Enterprise for construction of a series of modern diesel-electric icebreakers to be operated in the Gulf of Finland. The keel of the leadship, the Moskva, was laid in May 2005. In January 2006, the keel-laying ceremony for the second icebreaker, the Sankt-Peterburg, was held. In 2007 both the icebreakers will be delivered to the customer. Therefore for the first time after a 30-year break, diesel-electric icebreakers are being built by a Russian shipyard.

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# 1(19), 2007