Out in the cold

Arctech is based at the famous Helsinki Shipyard and, since it was founded in 2010, has focused on the building of arctic vessels. The yard itself, now nearly 150 years old, has been a leading producer of icebreakers and today more than 60 per cent of operational icebreakers are constructed at Helsinki Shipyard. Arctech adapts this pedigree for the arctic vessel market. As a joint venture between two of the worlds’ leading shipbuilders STX Finland and United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), it has great experience and support within the industry.

Managing director Esko Mustamäki introduces the yard in greater detail: “This specialisation in arctic shipbuilding technology includes, for example, icebreakers and other arctic offshore and special vessels. We have strong capabilities in production, design and project execution. Our design unit, which designs and develops new solutions for shipbuilding, employs about 40 people whilst the shipyard as a whole employs approximately 400 people. The yard has high quality manufacturing facilities: one 280 metres long covered dry dock with capacity for ships up to Panamax size, covered outfitting halls, covered painting halls, three outfitting quays and sufficient crane capacity. The area of the shipyard is 16.7 hectares.”

With this capability behind it, Arctech has already been involved in a number of important building projects. Its very first order, for example, was from Russian petroleum and LNG shipping company Sovcomflot for two icebreaker vessels to be used in the Arkutun Dagi oil field in Sakhalin. This order was placed in December 2010 and at present Arctech has just undertaken its first construction activities.

“The production of both vessels has started and we just had the keel laying of New Building 506, which means that we started to assemble the hull of the ship,” explains Esko. “In this project we are co-operating with Vyborg Shipyard, which will build 37 blocks for the vessel. Here in Helsinki we will build the remaining five blocks and finalise the vessels as we are responsible for block outfitting, paintings, hull assembly, outfitting and commissioning. So far the project has been proceeding as planned.”

NB-506 and NB-507 will be used as supply vessels for the Exxon Neftegas Limited platform as well as to protect it from encroaching ice. As such it is essential that the quality of both icebreakers must be paramount with the ability to operate in ice thicknesses of up to 1.7 metres. The yard’s already extensive experience in shipbuilding will be crucial in ensuring an excellent final product. Both NB-506 and NB-507 are expected to be delivered in Spring 2013.

The other major contract that Arctech is currently undertaking is for the Russian Government. “The multipurpose emergency and rescue vessel for the Russian Ministry of Transport will be done in co-operation with Shipyard Yantar JSC, a shipyard within the USC group,” elaborates Esko. “The project has started as planned and the vessel will be delivered to the customer in December 2013. The hull of the vessels will be built by Shipyard Yantar while Arctech will do the outfitting and finalising of the ship.”

Throughout all of its building work, Arctech is dedicated to delivering optimum performance within its own yard as well as to its clients. It has committed itself to a number of stringent health, safety and environmental (HSE) targets that include no accidents, no occupational or work-related illnesses, no fires, no abuse to the yard or its property and no exceptional emission into the environment. This is backed up by a range of audited accreditations including ISO 9001:2008 for quality management standards, OHSAS 18001 for occupational health and safety management, ISO 14001 for environmental management standards and welding work fulfilling ISO 3834-2:2005 standards as well.

As a young company, and already having secured three major projects, the last two years have been good for Arctech. Esko agrees: “The first order for two vessels by Sovcomflot was very important for the yard. Without this, the start up would have been too difficult when taking into account the global economic situation we have.” With the Russian Ministry of Transport also seeking the company’s services, and with the heavyweight support of STX Finland and USC behind it, Arctech has managed to achieve something successful in economically unstable times.

With experience and history behind it, the company has a lot to look forward too. Esko concludes by explaining that although the next few years are unpredictable, the company is already looking at new avenues of growth: “We are working on new projects with a number of ship operators although it is not possible to predict if and when we will see the results of this work. We believe that the arctic oil and gas exploration will continue to grow and that it will create a big demand of a variety of arctic special vessels. Thus our plan is to build many more arctic offshore vessels and icebreakers for this sector. Our vision is, ultimately, to be the leading brand in arctic shipbuilding.”

Building multipurpose icebreaking vessels
Working with Russian Government
History of industry excellence