Breaking the ice

Today specialising in arctic shipbuilding technology and building of special vessels for demanding conditions and routes, Arctech Helsinki Shipyard Inc has a long history and experience in building arctic vessels. Having been established in 1865, the Helsinki shipyard has gone on to construct more than 500 ships at the same location, and now operating under the name of Arctech Helsinki Shipyard Inc unites the marine industry clusters of Russia and Finland. In fact, the majority of the icebreakers in operation around the world has been delivered from Helsinki, and the shipyard has developed a reputation as the preferred shipbuilder for many of the world’s most advanced ship owners.

One particular area where Arctech really stands out is arctic marine research and development of icegoing vessels. The first ice model test basin was established in Helsinki in 1969, and now it is today known as Aker Arctic Technology Inc. Through working in co-operation with this organisation, Arctech is able to perform scientific research in ice and ice breaking physics, and full scale measurements of ice loads on hull and propeller.

As a result of such groundbreaking research and development, Arctech and its predecessors have undertaken continuous developments on hull forms and other features related to operational performance, and have been able to improve the icebreaking capability of their vessels. They have also introduced several icebreaking and arctic innovations for vessels, including heeling and air bubbling systems, low friction hull coating, and AC-AC diesel-electric propulsion. The diesel-electric azimuthing propulsion system, today known as Azipod, was developed in co-operation with the Finnish Maritime Administration and Helsinki Yard’s Arctic Research Centre [today known as Aker Arctic Technology Inc.]

When it comes to icebreaking vessels, Arctech has supplied not only offshore vessels, but also other trailblazing ships, including a world first with its oblique icebreaker Baltika. Delivered in 2014 this icebreaking multipurpose emergency and rescue vessel features a patented oblique design with asymmetric hull and three azimuthing propulsors, which allow the vessel to operate efficiently ahead, astern and obliquely (sideways). The vessel can proceed on a continuous mode in 1.2m thick level ice both ahead and astern and in oblique mode she can generate a 50m wide channel in 0.6m level ice.

In another global debut, Arctech delivered the first LNG-powered icebreaker in September 2016, named Polaris, which is unique in many ways. It is the first icebreaker in the world capable of running on both liquefied natural gas (LNG) and ultra-lowsulphur diesel. Its total output of about 22MW also makes it Finland’s most powerful icebreaker, and the most environmentally friendly diesel-electric icebreaker in the world. Polaris was designed under the supervision of the Finnish Transport Agency to ensure its ability to take on the most challenging conditions in the Baltic Sea. “Building the world’s most advanced icebreaker strengthens the position of Helsinki Shipyard as the leading icebreaker builder,” stated Esko Mustamäki, Managing Director of Arctech Helsinki Shipyard Inc, at the time of its launch.

In addition to offshore and LNG vessels, the company and its predecessors have also constructed nuclear powered icebreakers for the most severe conditions in the Arctic, and shallow draft icebreakers, which address the need to operate in arctic rivers and in shallow waters such as the Caspian Sea.

Given its tradition for innovation and its almost domination of the icebreaker construction market, it is no surprise to learn that Arctech launches and delivers new vessels on an extremely regular basis. One example is an order that the company is delivering for SCF Group, which commissioned a series of four icebreaking offshore vessels for operation in the Sea of Okhotsk for the Sakhalin-2 project, all of which have been designed and developed by Arctech.

In March 2017, the first vessel of the series was finalised and started its voyage from Helsinki to Sakhalin Island. The icebreaking supply vessel, which was named Gennadiy Nevelskoy after a famous explorer of the Russian Far East, has been built according to the latest international standards for the safety of operation and protection of the environment.

Gennadiy Nevelskoy will be followed by three icebreaking stand-by vessels, one of which was delivered and named in June2017. The multifunctional vessel was named after Russian vice admiral and polar explorer Stepan Makarov, and sails under the Russian flag.

The Stepan Makarov fulfills international standards of ship construction that takes into account operations in hard, arctic conditions. Her ice class is six according to the classification of the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping, and she has a max length of 104.2m, max beam of 21m and a max draught of 7.9m. The ship can achieve speeds of 16.8kn, and can carry a crew of 26 and 72 passengers, which represents a slightly higher accommodation capacity than the Gennadiy Nevelskoy.

All of these four vessels will be used for year-round delivery of supplies and consumables to offshore platforms, transporting personnel and for performing standby and ice management duties near the platforms. The vessels will also be outfitted for integrated environmental protection and rescue operations.

As a forerunner in developing and applying technological innovations, Arctech prides itself not only on its own original research and development, but of a culture of partnership and co-operation with its customers and suppliers. It is proud that many of its vessels contain innovative solutions that in many cases originate from working together with partners, ship operators and research institutes.

With such rewarding projects in its portfolio and a long history to draw upon, Arctech is heading into the second half of 2017 with a strong order book and a determination to be the leading brand in arctic shipbuilding. It is continuously developing new and exciting products and working with partners and customers that share its enthusiasm for innovation and technology. As demand for even more sophisticated icebreaking ships continues to increase, Arctech is ideally placed to the yard of choice for any construction needs.

Arctech Helsinki Shipyard
Delivers majority of icebreakers around the world
Continuous focus on innovation and new solutions
Recently launched the Stepan Makarov vessel