HHI Plans Ice-breaking Iron Ore Carrier to Transit Northwest Passage

By George Backwell at August 28, 2011 05:08
Filed Under: Research & Development

Commercial ships able to route through the Northwest Passage without ice breaker assistance are a step closer to becoming a reality. Korean shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), announced a few days ago that a model of their 190,000 dwt iron ore bulk carrier had finished its test program in the world’s largest – 90 meters long – ice test tank at Canada’s Institute for Ocean Technology (IOT).

With an awareness that the traditional ice-breaker bow construction (where the mass of the ship’s bow structure bears down to break up pack ice) acts as a drag on efficient progress in open waters, international collaboration between IOT and Korean researchers from Pusan National University aimed at finding the optimal bow design for a ship operating in various ice conditions. Numerical computer analysis by the team culminated in manoeuvring and resistance performance tests of the model bulk carrier in the special ice-test tank.

Ship Model Testing in IOT Ice Tank: Photo courtesy of NRC Institute for Ocean Technology

The Northwest Passage

There has been a progressive year-by-year decline in the thickness and extent of Arctic sea ice, a trend scientists predict likely to continue; thus the Northwest Passage (also known as the Northern Sea Route) is likely to offer a viable alternative route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in the not too distant future .

Northwest Passage & Routes – View from Space: Photo:  NASA

According to a tripartite six-year research program where Russia, Norway and Japan joined hands in the International Northern Sea Route Program (INSROP) the route offers a potential 40% saving in the distance (compared to southerly sea routes with Suez and Panama transits) between Northern Europe, NE Asia and the NW coast of North America. INSROP’s conclusion was that a substantial increase in shipping through the Northwest Passage is feasible, adding that they had identified a stable transit market potential, notably for dry bulk carriers.

HHI’s Design for Ice-breaking Iron Ore Bulk Carrier

HHI say that when it is built this iron ore carrier will be the world’s largest ice-breaking commercial ship with a LOA of 310 m and a breadth of 51 m. Its ice-strengthened hull is designed to give  the ship the remarkable ability to navigate through 1.7 m thick ice (which is as thick as it comes in the Arctic) at a speed of 6 kts without the assistance of an icebreaker.
Exact details of the propulsion system are not available yet, but the shipbuilders say it will have a dual propulsion system (presumably ‘dual- fuel’) equipped with two ring-type propellers.


Comments (6) -

A great news indeed! That is what I have been telling in many of my Talks/Lectures/Presentations that shrinking of the ice cap opens new frontiers of world's Arctic Shipping. Not only shipping, the same goes for E&P for Oil and Gas, which calls for POLAR drill ships, POLAR OSVs, POLAR offshore floating structures. Do we have all the solutions?

I have one reservation about the ice-breaking Ore Carrier. Due to the ice breaking bow, open water resistance could be high! One of the solutions is what is used as double acting but may have other efficient bow designs making a compromise. What about the propulsion architecture? Nuclear would be a great option as during ice breaking, more power (rather torque) might be necessary which is again function of speed (3 knots generally).

Wish all the successof such a novel design initiative!

Arun Kr Dev
Director, Newcastle University Marine International-Singapore

Arun Kr Dev |     8/30/2011 11:17:59 AM #

Put reactor in bow and melt ice ahead! Mechanical and cargo capacity advantages.

chuck tanner |     8/30/2011 12:21:14 PM #

I hope the Canadian government grows a pair and starts taking action over violations and incursions into Canadian sovereign territory. These waters are some of the most ecologically sensitive in the world and making it a major shipping route is inviting disaster on a scale that the no government could manage or clean up after.

Matt Savo |     8/31/2011 4:59:11 PM #

hey wait a minute.  the ruling class has spent a lot of money on propaganda telling us global warming isn't happening.  but in the meantime they are spending lots of money to exploit the shrinking icecap due to global warming!  so what's the deal?

j. stege |     9/7/2011 1:15:33 PM #

how hot is the planet going to get?  will it vaporize enough water vapor so it gets a blanket like venus, and thus reach 1000F or so?

j. stege |     9/9/2011 10:02:35 AM #

Excelled  idea.,,only  the voyages for  seaman  i  hope  to  be  safety   the  first  ster,,

GKIKAS KONSTANTINOS |     9/11/2011 11:04:04 AM #

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