2011 Northern Sea Route now open
Last week on the 30th June the 2011 Northern Sea Route (NSR) “opened” for sea transit along the northern shore of Russia. The nuclear powered icebreaker NS Yamal with sharks teeth painter on her bows, left Murmansk to rendezvous with the oil tanker MV Preseverance and escort her along the NSR to her China destination. This year the Arctic sea ice is melting so rapidly that the NSR is opening earlier than ever.
The nuclear icebreaker NS Yamal is one of six Arktika class of nuclear icebreakers and is operated by the Murmansk Shipping Company. Launched in 1992 apart from her ice breaking escort duties, she takes passengers on Arctic cruises, including in 2000 to the North Pole. NS Yamal has a double hull with a thickness of 1 inch (25 mm) extending to 1.9 inch (48 mm) in ice contact areas. Friction is reduced by the application of a polymer coating applied to the hull. To improve the ice breaking capabilities, water ballast between the inner and outer hulls can be moved as required, and an air bleed system allowing air to emerge under the ice surface provides further enhancement to the ice breaking performance. The specially shaped hull allows ice breaking moving ahead or astern.
Caption: Russian nuclear icebreaker NS Yamal
Image credit: Commander Mike Power, US National Science Foundation
This remarkable Arktika class has an LOA of 150 m (490 ft), beam of 28 m (92 ft) and displacement of 23,450 tons. Propulsion power is provided by two OK-900 nuclear pressurized water reactors each of 27.6 MW (37,000 hp) powering steam turbo-generators. Each of the three four-bladed FPP is driven by a 17.6 kW (23,500 hp) electric motor, providing a top speed of 22 kn and 19.5 kn cruising speed.
The Singapore registered, Belgian owned MV Perseverance making the first transit of the year is a 70,000 dwt oil tanker of LOA 748 ft (228 m) and 105 ft (32 m) beam. Launched in 2005, she is classified to 1A1 ICE-1A and is powers a Nakashima FPP by a MAN B&W 7S60MC-C of 16,660 kW (22,332 hp) at 105 rpm. The passage is expected to take around 20 days, cutting the time in half compared to a Suez route.
Other ships are planned to use the NSR this summer and already several ice classification tankers are gathering in Kola Bay ready for the next ice breaker escorted convoy. It is anticipated that approximately 15 large oil tankers will transit the route, including the tanker MV Vladimir Tikhonov with a 110,000 ton cargo.
Tags: NS Yamal, Northern Sea Route, nuclear icebreaker, NSR, Arktika class, MV Perseverance, NS Yamal, MV Vladimir Tikhonov, nuclear icebreaker, Murmansk Shipping Company, Arktika class, Nakashima, MV Perseverance, MV Vladimir Tikhonov, 7S60MC-C, Murmansk Shipping Company, Nakashima, 7S60MC-C