2022 January 13
The giant nuclear-powered icebreaker now heads towards Murmansk to pick up supplies before starting to work along the Northern Sea Route.
The “Sibir“ is the second of Russia’s new class of powerful icebreakers tasked to keep the Northern Sea Route open for year-round shipping. She left port at the Baltic shipyard in St. Petersburg at 05.17 in the morning on January 13 and has, for now, expected arrival at her new homeport Murmansk on January 20.
The transition through the Baltic Sea and around Scandinavia is expected to take 8-9 days, Rosatomflot informs.
After a few days at port in Murmansk, the “Sibir” will begin the first working voyage in the western sector of the Northern Sea Route, mainly in the area of the Ob and Yensei rivers outlet and in the Kara Sea. Shipping to and from ports like Sabetta and Dudinka in the Russian Arctic are already supported by the “Arktika” icebreaker of the same class as “Sibir”.
Construction of the new icebreaker took six years and the acceptance certificate was signed on December 24.
Powered by two RITM-200 light-water reactors designed to produce 55 MWe, the vessels of the 22220 class are the most powerful icebreakers ever built. The “Sibir” is the second vessel to enter service after “Arktika” was handed over last year.
Three additional icebreakers of the class are under construction at the Baltic Shipyard, the “Ural”, “Yakutia” and “Chukotka”, scheduled to be put in operation from 2022 to 2025.
Rosatom has also hinted that yet another two icebreakers of the class would be needed to manage year-round shipments on the Northern Sea Route.
This season, winter sea-ice came surprisingly early.
Major parts of the remote Arctic waters were covered by a quickly growing white sheet already in late October, and by early November the sea route was hardly navigable for ships without the highest ice-class.
At most, more than 20 vessels were in mid-November either stuck or struggling to break out of the icy waters of the East Siberian Sea and the Laptev Sea.
In addition to the 22220 class icebreakers, Russia is also developing the Lider, an even more powerful vessel that will be capable of opening large shipping lanes through the ice for major convoys. The Lider will be built at the Zvezda shipyard in Russia’s Far East. Contract for the first was signed last year.