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Feature 3 | ICE CLASS VESSELS Trading places

By adopting a bold, but circumspect, approach to the technical design of a new generation of Arctic containerised vessels, Russian metals producer MMC Norilsk Nickel is now reaping the benefits with a strengthened export market reach and competitiveness, writes David Tinsley.

the 14,500dwt Norilskiy Nickel series was conceived from the outset to provide for largely unassisted year-round Arctic operation. While aiming to bring heightened transport capability and efficiency to bear on the main route to foreign markets through the western section of the Northern Sea Route, the group also sought to ensure that its investment would provide for navigation on the even more challenging eastern section. Direct shipments from the group’s facilities at Dudinka, on the River Yenisey, might thereby be made to eastern Asian ports through the Arctic passage. Te initial emphasis with what is now


a fleet of five sisters was on conveying products from Dudinka westbound to Murmansk for transhipment, with the transport pattern including a gradually increasing number of direct sailings to the north west Continent. While direct voyages to foreign ports, sailing westbound through the Arctic seaway, have indeed steadily grown, the company achieved a new milestone in September 2010 when one of the ships, Monchegorsk, leſt Murmansk for her first full eastward transit of the Northern Sea Route. Te ship put in to Dudinka to load, and then proceeded via the East Siberian Sea and Cape Dezhnev to Busan and Shanghai. Given the attributes of the vessel type

involved, based on Aker Arctic design technology, MMC Nickel believes that it can tap the potential offered by using the eastern part of the Northern Sea Route to serve markets in China, South Korea and elsewhere in Asia on a direct basis. Te trip from Dudinka to Shanghai can be made in around 19/20 days, as opposed to a duration of some 60/65 days with routings through European ports and the Suez Canal. On her


Sovcomflot’s 70,000dwt Arctic shuttle tanker Vasily Dinkov loading crude oil from the Varandey fixed offshore terminal in the Pechora Sea.

return voyage from Shanghai to Dudinka, the Monchegorsk transported materials and supplies for the group’s production plants as well as consumer goods for the residents of the Norilsk Industrial Region. Although affording scope for other

cargoes, MMC’s bespoke vessels use container-dimensioned pallets to carry pre-rolled nickel plates on flats or frames of standard size, loaded in up to 650 containers of a design specific to the company but similar to conventional 20ſt units. Recently, the producer received the first batch of a new, higher capacity design of container that will be conveyed by the Norilskiy Nickel series. Te new ISO-ICX units are 1280cm in

height, twice that of standard boxes, and offer a gross capacity of 30.5tonnes. Plans foresee 1500 of these containers being in service during 2011, for consignments of metals to the commodity markets as well as for return flows of process materials and

supplies to the Norilsk Industrial Region. Aker Finnyards, as it was then, delivered

first-of-class Norilskiy Nickel, while the four subsequent vessels were entrusted to Aker Ostsee at Warnemuende, now Nordic Yards, where a new Arctic tanker derivative of the class was laid down in November 2010. Ordered by MMC Norilsk Nickel to supply fuel and lubricants to Dudinka and elsewhere in Russia’s Far North, and to backhaul condensate from the Taimyr pensinsula to continental Europe, the 18,500dwt Enisey will encapsulate the container vessels’ key performance attributes. With construction to ARC7 ice

standard, and applying the double-acting concept based on a 13MW Azipod electric propulsion unit and special aft ship form, she will be capable of independent navigation stern-first through ice fields up to 1.5m in thickness. German project cargo specialist Beluga

The Naval Architect January 2011

uilt to ARC-7 ice class standard, and incorporating diesel-electric power and podded propulsion,

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