Icebreaker Ships are Cold Weapons

The new diesel-electric icebreaker of 21180 design “Ilya Muromets” ship's keel was laid in the dockage facilities of the “Admiralteiskie Verfi”. It has taken place at the building berth where the-first-in-the-world nuclear-powered icebreaker “Lenin” was laid in 1956.

A Hero

This is the first icebreaker in Russia, where the steerable propellers of “Azipod” type are attached outside the hull by means of an articulated mechanism and can be rotated about vertical axis through 360°. It provides for the ship’s capability to exercise an equally free movement with nose, stern and board moving forward. Besides, “Ilya Muromets” will become the first icebreaker to be built for the Russian Navy over the last 45 years.

A helicopter pad is arranged in the nose part of the icebreaker, a hoisting crane is located in the stern portion, which helps carry out any handling operations. The icebreaker can be used among others as a supply or patrol vessel and as a tugboat.

“All the technical requirements laid down by the Navy high command to this vessel will be complied with in the course of icebreaker building. We will get an icebreaker that is able to efficiently support activities of the seaborne groups of Navy ships in the Arctic zone”, said Victor Chirkov, Navy Commander-in-Chief. “When the ship was designed, they introduced characteristics not only of the present day icebreaker but took into account future requirements. It implies nautical qualities, manoeuvrability, multifunctionality and an absolutely new electric motion principle”.

According to Victor Chirkov, a conceptual shipbuilding principle of multifunctionality has been implemented in the design, which is incorporated in the Shipbuilding program for a period up to 2015.

As the chief builder Vladimir Nadtocheev told the NOZ correspondent, “Ilya Muromets” will by 85 % consist of domestic components and assemblies. At that, until recently the plant building berths have released ships, equipment of which has been by 99% imported (except for metal hull components).

“Now the priority is given to the materials and parts produced in Russia”, the expert explained. “The communication and navigation equipment will be supplied by Тransas, fittings will be supplied by Armalit-1, both companies are located in Saint Petersburg. The metal will be received from Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works. The Central Scientific & Research Institute of Marine Electrical Engineering and Technology, an affiliation of the Krylov State Research Center, will supply electrical equipment; ventilation and heating systems will be supplied by Innovent plant in Podolsk. By the way, the tenders are still on”.


As of today Russia appears to be the owner of the biggest icebreaking fleet in the world. It includes six nuclear-powered icebreakers (our country is the only one to possess vessels of this type) and about twenty diesel-powered icebreakers. An undeniable Russia’s advantage consists also in the immense experience of designing, building and operation of vessels for navigation in high latitudes.

One of the main design organizations majoring in the development of powerful icebreakers and icebreaking and transportation vessels is CDB Aisberg of Saint Petersburg. Particularly here the first in the world nuclear-powered icebreaker “Lenin” has been designed, as well as the next generations of nuclear icebreakers (Projects 1052, 10521, 10580).

In 2009 the experts of CDB Aisberg developed a design of a universal new-generation nuclear icebreaker (Project 22220). A capability of ensuring the vessels escort both along the Northern Sea Route (featuring water draft of 10.5 m), and in the shallow-water areas and in the mouths of rivers (with water draft of 8.5 m) has become the main difference from its predecessors. In order to change water draft, the icebreaker is provided with liquid ballast tanks. Thus, the vessels of the Project 22220 will be capable of combining functions of the existing icebreakers “Russia” (10521) and “Taimyr” (10580).

The calculations have shown that the use of double-draft icebreaker ships helps to obtain a considerable reduction of expenditures for maintenance and repair.

The vessel dimensions (length of 172 m, width of 33 m) make it possible to effect escorting of heavy-tonnage vessels. Its weight has increased as compared with predecessors. By the way, it became clear during operation of the early-built vessels that the power of plants does not correspond to displacement. Therefore, the icebreakers most frequently were not able to smash multi-year blocks of ice due to a very low mass.

Africantov Experimental Design Bureau for Mechanical Engineering has developed a reactor unit for the Project 22220. The unit of RITM-200 type will ensure the autonomous icebreaker navigation during 7 years, as contrasted with 2.5–3 years with its predecessor KLТ-40.

A turbogenerator unit for the icebreaker will be produced by Kaluga Turbine Works.

Let us recollect that the lead ship’s keel of the Project 22220 (LK-60Ya “Аrktika”) was laid in the building berths of the Baltic Plant in Saint Petersburg in November 2013 and will be handed over to FSUE “Atomflot” not later than December 2017. A contract has been also concluded for building two more nuclear icebreakers of this project to be floated out in 2019 and 2020.

Call Waiting from Arctic Regions

This is only the beginning of the advance against Arctic ice fields. Presently, CDB Aisberg together with Krylov State Research Center develops a project under a code name LK-110Ya. This icebreaker will feature a length of more than 200 m and width of 40 m with icebreaking capability of 3.7 m. For comparison: LK-60Ya can pass through an ice field as thick as 2.9 m, while the vessels of Project 1052 can pass through an ice field as thick as 2.5 m. It is supposed that the vessels of this type will be able to guarantee all-the-year-round navigation by the Northern Sea Route.

Apart from this, a project of the river nuclear icebreaker is being developed presently with variable displacement within the range of 7.5–8.5 m, which can also be used as a transportation and rescue vessel.

The large-scale deployment of military units and equipment along a coastal line and on the islands not far from the Northern Sea Route was launched a couple of years ago. The Ministry of Defence of Russia declared in 2014 about establishment of the Arctic group of troops on the Frantz Josef Land Archipelago, Novaya Zemlya Island and New Siberian Islands. In order to provide for an operative deployment of the Northern fleet forces and continuous sustenance of the inshore bases, radar stations, air defense facilities, and aviation control stations there is a need for the icebreakers that will be included into the Arctic Navy group.

Let us specify that the State Commission on the Matters of Arctic Regions Development was established in March this year. It has been headed by the Vice-Premier Dmitry Rogozin, who has declared at the first Commission meeting that the Arctic is a region of geostrategic importance and that 222 billion rubles will be allotted for its budgeting in the nearest five years.

Maxim Sterligov

Our partners