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How nuclear icebreakers work-and why Russia is leading in this direction
Material posted: Publication date: 31-05-2020
So is the solid earth that there is such a thing as ”Northern sea route”. This transportation artery, passing far to the North. It is simply impossible to go to regular courts. To do this, they are accompanied by a huge atomic monster, called icebreakers. One such machine can break the ice thickness of up to several meters and create an ice-free passage width of tens of meters.

This enables the courts several times faster to take the route from Asia to Europe and save such volumes of fuel that the whole idea really makes sense. Soon Russia will build a new, world's largest icebreaker. Actually, did you know that all nuclear-powered icebreakers in the world built in the USSR or Russia?

The largest icebreaker in the world

At the moment the largest icebreakers in the world are those that have a class of LK-60Я. However, none of them were commissioned, but their construction is gradually nearing completion in the next couple of years three of the icebreaker will be launched.

If to speak only about those ice-breakers, which are now in commercial operation, it is vessels of ”Arctic”. At the moment, ranks only two of them is Yamal (operational in 1993) and ”50 years of victory” (commissioned in 2007).

The icebreakers in this class have the following characteristics:

  • Length — 148 meters
  • Width — 30 meters
  • Board height 17.2 meters
  • Power turbine — 2 at 27 580 KW
  • The number of propellers — 3
  • The thickness traversed by ice — 2.25 meters
  • The crew — 130 people

For comparison, the nuclear icebreakers of the class LK-60Я about a quarter more powerful, break ice up to three meters and have a crew of just 70.

How in the world icebreakers

In the world at the moment , there are 10 nuclear-powered icebreakers. More precisely, we can even say that a 9.5. Cannot be considered complete icebreaker atomic lighter (the only one in the world) with ice-breaking nose. Of these, only five ships now in service, but, interestingly, all 10 was designed in the USSR or Russia.

So icebreakers are making their way.

Six of them were built at the Admiralty shipyards and the Baltic factory in Leningrad. Three more were built in Finland, but nuclear power units put on them in Leningrad. Only the lighter was built on the Kerch plant ”Zaliv”.

Lighter (sometimes called ”Barrios”) — a specialized vessel for the carriage of cargo in lighters or barges, containers. Is in the design of gantry crane for easy loading. Often used to transport large volumes of fish in containers.

The whole nuclear icebreaker fleet now belongs to Russia and it is based in the port city of Murmansk.

How does icebreaker

The icebreaker is that the move he leans his weight on the ice and breaks it. This is the easiest way, because the bottom there is always somewhere to break the ice, and gravity helps. Therefore, they are heavy.

Some information about icebreakers

Despite the seeming simplicity of the process, a normal vehicle just won't be able to fulfill this role. In order to break the ice with thickness up to three meters, you need a very powerful power plant and a solid case with protection from abrasion to the ships served as long as possible. They are too expensive to be disposable.

The Viking ship was buried under earth 1 000 years. Now it wants to get.

Better to pounce on the ice of the bottom bow of the icebreaker is made barrel-shaped. It helps in the struggle with ice, but strongly interferes with normal swimming. Because of such shape of the bottom of the icebreakers are very much shaken by even small waves. At the same time, it can swing very dramatically.

The court followed the icebreaker, like ducklings behind a duck.

At the rear of the icebreakers is the m-shaped groove. It is necessary to tow another vessel ”moustache”. The so-called method when the nose of the ship as it enters into the stern of the icebreaker. At this moment the ship is on the back, can not only tow but also to push the icebreaker due to its screws, helping him pass the obstacles.

Few people thought about it, but the screws icebreakers are driven by electric motors, which get energy from a nuclear reactor on the Bor. This arrangement is very convenient, and most importantly helps to go into Autonomous navigation, as the motors do not require frequent maintenance, and supply of nuclear fuel allows a long time to go without refueling.

Diesel-powered icebreaker is more like a regular ship. Photo Russian icebreaker "TOR"

When they build a new nuclear-powered icebreakers

In the next 7 years will be put into operation not only the three atomic icebreaker LK-60Я, but one of the class LK-100Я. However, it is just beginning to build and should enter service by 2027. But it will be a real king-the icebreaker.

According to the project, its capacity will be 120 000 KW (twice the current maximum). The movement of the giant will be powered by four screws, its length will amount to more than two hundred meters, and the ice he will break the thickness up to 4 meters.

This can be a new icebreaker "Leader".

Considered the option of building four such icebreakers, but is only one. The rest should be available by 2033. When they appear, we will talk about this in our news Telegram-channel.

Why do we need icebreakers

First and foremost, icebreakers clear the way for merchant ships, including oil tankers. In addition, icebreakers are used for self-delivery of cargo in remote areas of the Arctic (and Antarctic), as well as search and rescue operations.

The atomic icebreaker "Yamal".

The largest fleet of icebreakers in Russia — 40 vessels (including diesel). This is not surprising, given the huge coastline of the Arctic ocean. Existing nuclear-powered icebreakers in Russia 4 is the ”Yamal”, ”50 years of Victory”, ”Taimyr” and ”Vaigach”. Including these breakers have made a great contribution to the development of the Northern sea route as one of the largest transport arteries of the world.

Artem Sutyagin


Tags: Arctic

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