Technical issue likely to further delay delivery of Russia’s newest icebreaker

Arktika heading out for its initial sea trials in December 2019 (Photo: United Shipbuilding Corporation)

Russian newspaper Kommersant reports that delivery of the Project 22220 nuclear-powered icebreaker Arktika is expected to be delayed even further after the vessel suffered an electrical system failure during its latest round of sea trials.

A starboard side electrical propulsion motor was said to have short circuited and broken down during tests conducted in the Gulf of Finland earlier this month.

Although the report clarified that the electrical propulsion motor was not part of Arktika‘s nuclear propulsion system, replacing the 300-tonne motor could still mean the vessel would not be completed before the May 2020 deadline set by the Russian government.

The RUB 37 billion (US$580 million) icebreaker had originally been scheduled to be handed over to state-owned nuclear power company Rosatom in 2017. However, numerous delays were encountered over the course of its construction.

One significant reason for delay was the deterioration of relations between Russia and Ukraine that began in 2013. The breakdown in relations between the two countries meant that Ukrainian state-owned turbine manufacturer Turboatom could no longer supply the two main turbogenerators originally slated for Arktika, thus forcing United Shipbuilding Corporation’s (USC) Baltic Shipyard to instead source the turbogenerators locally.

Additional technical problems with the vessel’s steam turbines became evident in the succeeding months and further pushed the scheduled delivery to May 2020.

The Kommersant news story said that Baltic Shipyard is working to identify the cause of the recent electrical failure while preparing Arktika for another series of sea trials expected to commence no later than April.

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