New icebreaker has major importance for Northern Sea Route, says Rosatom

The “Ural” arrives in Murmansk on its maiden voyage to Arctic waters. (Rosatom, The Independent Barents Observer)

The “Ural,” Russia’s third vessel of the powerful LK-60 class, makes its maiden voyage to its home port of Murmansk.

The 173-metre long nuclear-powered icebreaker arrived in Murmansk on Thursday this week after a six-day voyage from the Baltic Yard in St. Petersburg. It moored at Atomflot, the nuclear icebreaker base in the Kola Bay operated by the nuclear power company Rosatom.

According to the Acting General Director of Atomflot Leonid Irlitsa, the construction of the Ural clearly demonstrates Russia’s self-sufficiency both in terms of technology and industry.

“More than 90 percent of the equipment onboard the icebreaker is produced by domestic companies,” Irlitsa says in a comment.

He especially highlights the vessel’s electric propulsion system with asynchronous propulsion motors.

“This is the first Russian development that makes it possible to complete a package solution for icebreaker control under any condition,” Irlitsa explains.

According to Rosatom, the Ural will be of big importance for the further development of shipping on the Northern Sea Route.

“The active application of this transport artery will allow Russia to arrange efficient logistical routes and more comprehensively fulfil its export potential […],” the company underlines in a statement.

However, unlike its sister ships Arktika and Sibir, the Ural might not engage in multi-purpose escort of vessels across the far northern and icy waters.

Representatives of Rosatom recently indicated that an exclusive agreement has been signed with the oil company Rosneft over icebreaking for the company’s new major project Vostok Oil.

According to Rosatom, the Ural will set out from Murmansk on the third of December with course for the Ob and Yenisey Rivers.

Rosneft’s Vostok Oil includes the construction of a major seaport on the coast of the Yenisey Bay and several hundred kilometres of pipelines from project fields in the Taimyr Peninsula.

The LK-60 is the world’s most powerful class of icebreakers. It can operate in up to three-metre-thick sea ice and sail with a speed of 12 knots in 1,5-metre-thick ice.

A total of seven vessels of the class are projected. Two of them are under construction at the Baltic Yard. On the same day as a flag raising ceremony took place at the Ural in mid-November, the sister ship Yakutia was put on the water in a nearby ceremony.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada’s inaction on Arctic surveillance could affect future sovereignty: report, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Norway’s new ice-strengthened coast guard ship on the way, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Isolated Russia seeks way out through Arctic waters, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: U.S. Department of Defense stresses need for more icebreakers in the Arctic, Eye on the Arctic

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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