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World’s largest icebreaker begins maiden voyage

Project 22220 nuclear-powered icebreaker Arktika
Arktika. Photo: Baltic Shipyard

After overcoming a series of technical challenges, the future flagship of the Russian icebreaker fleet has started its maiden voyage, en route to its homeport in Murmansk.

The nuclear-powered ship is dubbed as the largest icebreaker in the world by ROSATOM, Russia’s nuclear energy agency and the future operator of the ship.

Arktika, as the lead ship of the series of Project 22220 icebreakers is named, got underway from St. Petersburg on September 22, with two of its three propulsion motors running. The third motor failed during port trials and will be replaced sometime next year. Even with only two working motors, the propulsion power of the 30,000-ton ship is estimated at around 50 megawatts. Its RITM-200 two-reactor power plant is capable of delivering 60 MW on the shafts, allowing the ship to break ice up to three meters thick.

Arktika’s voyage from St. Petersburg to Murmansk will take two weeks to complete, and will include various checks of the ship’s systems. Upon arriving in Murmansk, the ship will be handed over to the operator by the OJSC Baltic Shipyard.

Project 22220 icebreakers will provide year-round navigation in the Arctic region, allowing Russia to exploit the Northern Sea Route for cargo transportation.

Developed by the Aisberg Central Design Bureau in 2009, Arktika was laid down in November 2013, and launched in June 2016. The 173-meter ship has a double-draft design allowing it to be used both in Arctic waters and in the mouths of polar rivers.

Russia is currently building four out of five planned Project 22220 icebreakers.