RosAtomFlot has announced an open tender for the construction of the world’s largest nuclear-powered icebreaker. The company plans to take delivery of the vessel by the end of 2017.

The as-yet unnamed icebreaker — the first of the LK-60 model to be built — will be 173 metres long and 34 metres wide, some 14 metres longer and 4 meters wider than the current biggest icebreaker, the 50 Years of Victory. The displacement of the new vessel will be about 33,540 tonnes. It will have a draught of between 8.5 and 10.5 metres. The LK-60 — which will have a crew of 75 — will be capable of breaking through ice up to 2.8 metres thick at a speed of between 1.5 and 2 knots.

The LK-60 will be based around two RITM-200 pressurized water reactors to power a three shaft propulsion arrangement. The reactor design was developed by OKBM Afrikantov and integrates some main components into the reactor vessel and produces 60 MWe for the motor-driven propeller. The same design is foreseen as being incorporated in floating power plants. The reactor would operate on fuel enriched to less than 20% uranium-235 and require refuelling every seven years over a 40-year lifespan.

According to the tender announcement, construction of the vessel should begin in 2013, with the keel being launched in November 2015. Following outfitting of the ship, sea trials are scheduled for August 2017, with ice trials starting in November 2017. The vessel is to be delivered to the port of Murmansk by 30 December 2017. The initial maximum price set by RosAtomFlot for the contract is RUB 37 billion ($1.1 billion). The deadline for applications is 30 July, while a summing up of the contest will be held on 3 August.

“The estimated cost will include construction work, building a shipyard, etc. But the most expensive part of the icebreaker is the RITM-200 reactor and various pieces of know-how”, Aleksey Kravchenko of OSK Shipbuilding Corporation told the Izvetya newspaper. He noted that the cost of subsequent LK-60 vessels would be some 30% lower.

RosAtomFlot refers to the LK-60 as being ’universal’ as it can be used both in the open sea and on rivers. The new icebreaker is planned to be used in the western Arctic region, including in the Barents, Pechora and Kara seas, as well as in the shallower waters of the Yenisei River and Ob Bay. During the summer and autumn months it will operate in the eastern Arctic region.

The company’s current fleet of four nuclear-powered icebreakers is slated to continue operation until 2020, working the freezing ports in Russia’s Arctic coast and maintaining the Northern Sea Route. RosAtomFlot also operates two nuclear-powered freighters, two floating technical bases, a radioactive waste ship and a radiation monitoring ship.

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