Versatile Icebreaker Print

The beginning of works on the new-generation versatile two-sedimentary nuclear icebreaker with RITM-200 reactor plant ("Project 22220") is closely connected with a special role of Arctic regions in the economic interests of  Russian Federation.

During the Age of Discovery joining of huge territories of north-east Asia to Russia was caused by economic activity and realized by the Arctic campaigns of furs dealers. The most known among them is Simeon Ivanovich Dezhnev from Velikiy Ustyug. He was the first of Europeans who passed the strait between Asia and America in 1648. Further on the basic flow of communications of the European Russia with the Far East moved to the south, on the line:
Central Urals – Baikal – the Amur river basin – because the level of technologies did not allow to carry out commercially profitable development of a coastal route of the Arctic Ocean. The importance of a sea route along the northern coast of Asia increased during the periods of armed conflicts and international tensions and decreased, when it was a question exclusively of economic efficiency of navigation in Arctic regions.

Now, when easily accessible deposits of resources are being actively developed, the mining operations in Arctic regions, rich with raw materials, but covered with ices, have become
commercially perspective. In the United States, China, Norway, Canada and other countries interest to the Arctic navigation has impetuously increased. The tremendous advantage of our country in the affirmance of the right in raw resources development of the Russian sector of the Arctic shelf is founded on the unique (more than fifty years') operating experience of atomic icebreakers – water crafts having essential functional advantages to other kinds of ice breakers.

The letter of the captain of nuclear ice breaker "Arctica" to the son of Igor Ivanovich Afrikantov,
ОКBМ general designer

At the same time life-support of settlements, mining enterprises and airports in coastal areas of Siberia and the Far East remains one of the important strategic problems.

For this task performance the project of the versatile double-draft icebreaker with an integrated reactor plant of JSC «Afrikantov OKBM» production has been recently realized. This icebreaker is focused on all-the-year-round pilotage of tankers, dry-cargo ships and water-crafts with special equipment to the places of mineral resources development on the Arctic shelf. The width of the icebreaker is 32 m, it is chosen according to the possible use of the icebreaker as the linear one in the Western sector of Arctic ocean and perspectives for conducting heavy-tonnage transport vessels). The aim of the project is also to provide strategic navigation on all extent of the North Sea Route.

New-generation versatile icebreaker

The unique benefit of the versatile icebreaker in comparison with the previous generations of nuclear icebreakers is possibility to work both at mid-ocean, and on large Siberian rivers, owing to the two-sedimentary design of a vessel. Having filled ballast tanks with water and settled on 2 meters, such an icebreaker becomes a heavy one. Having approached to a river mouth and discharged ballast water, the vessel rises and can work as a shallow-draft icebreaker.


Nuclear icebreaker as a special class of ship for navigation in "high" latitudes

The main distinctive feature of ice breakers with a nuclear propulsion power unit is great energy intensity of fuel. Owing to it a nuclear icebreaker can work without refueling for some years.
Besides, both the engine and fuel for it occupy less place on a vessel. It allows to store supplies of products for a crew enough to function without calling in a port for more than a year in a regular mode. Capacity of a nuclear icebreaker makes it possible to work in ices of 2,9-meter thickness that is considerably higher than the maximum possibilities of a diesel icebreaker considering thickness of an ice covering.

Nuclear propulsion power plant for the versatile icebreaker

Works of JSC «Afrikantov OKBM» on the versatile icebreaker project have led to construction of a new integral reactor plant (RP). It is a new project «RITM 200»,  a two-reactor RP with capacity of 170 megawatt (Capacity of KLT unit used in modern nuclear icebreakers is 140-150 megawatt). «RITM 200» is almost twice easier and more compact, accordingly, it is cheaper on material consumption and occupies less place on a vessel; consequently, it is more cost-effective. Structurally such solution is attained due to an arrangement of heat exchangers directly in the reactor (integral layout) whereas earlier they were settled down out of it.

Prospects of commercial nuclear shipbuilding

Nuclear shipbuilding is perspective in the context of the whole World Ocean. Most economically feasible and application-proved example is a lighter carrier. The less its idle time is, the more profitability of any cargo ship is. Lighter carriers provide the minimum idle time. Unlike dry-cargo ships or tankers, this kind of ship is completed by floating cargo modules-containers. Such a module is loaded by the necessary cargo in a port and brought to a berth. The lighter carrier approaches to a port without being moored, on an external spot-check (stand in port without berthing, on the outer harbor). Using the scaffold-track, it unloads the lighters intended for this port and loads prepared for transportation and then it continues moving. If it were the ship with the diesel engine anyway it should be berthed for refueling. The lighter carrier "Sevmorput" with
JSC “Afrikantov OKBM” reactor unit has made world tour, stopping only on outer road: nuclear lighter carrier works without refuelling for some years.



  1. RITM-200
  2. RITM-200 (full version)


Web-sites of the enterprises specialized in arctic navigation


FSUE "Atomflot"


Other materials of JSC "Afrikantov OKBM" web-site on the topic

Marine nuclear reactor plants