Meet Russia’s Newest Icebreaker: Project LK-60

Russia is building a new generation of icebreakers that will break ice up to 2.8 meters (9.18 feet).

Named ‘Arktika‘, the first Project LK-60 nuclear-powered icebreaker got its two reactors assembled in November 2015. Two RITM-200 nuclear reactors will produce more than 170 megawatt.

Russia's newest project LK-60 nuclear-powered icebreaker. Photo illustration: Atle Staalesen
Russia’s newest Project LK-60 nuclear-powered icebreaker. Photo illustration: Atle Staalesen

With an overall length of 173 metres and breath of 34 metres, the Project LK-60 draught is 10.5m and a minimum operating draught of 8.55m. Its has ability to sail both in Arctic waters and mouth of polar rivers and has a displacement 33,544 tons. The 75-man crew will enable the icebreaker to break ice at speed up to 1.5 to 2 knots.

Designed to break ice in the Northern Sea Route, the Project LK-60 will keep the commercial route open on a year-long basis. Its main task will be to escort large commercial ship along high-latitude routes, north of all the archipelagos. It will also have a rescue ship role due to its ability to sail all-year round.

The Project LK-60 can fill ballast tanks with water and settle on 2 meters, becoming very heavy. When approaching a river mouth and discharging its ballast water, the nuclear-powered icebreaker rises and can work as a shallow-draft icebreaker.

The RITM-200 nuclear reactor

The RITM-200 Nuclear Reactor  iwill propulse the Project LK-60
The RITM-200 Nuclear Reactor iwill propulse the Project LK-60

On Afrikantov OKBM’s website, the RITM-200 builders, we can read that “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.”

You can download the RITM-200 booklet here.

Russia is building a great fleet of icebreakers, leading the Arctic countries in that capability. With the Northern Sea Route and the availability of many untapped natural resources, the Project LK-60 will become a vital element of Russian Arctic operations.

Its capabilities will definitely contribute to strengthen the Russian economy and keep Russia’s new commercial route open for business.

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Jonathan Wade, CD

Jonathan Wade is the director of the ‘The Sentinel Analytical Group’ and a decorated veteran of the Canadian Forces. Specialized in tactical, strategic, intelligence and geopolitics analysis, Jonathan has a fondness for technical details. His military experience brought him valuable insight on the realities of conflicts and war. A combat veteran of Afghanistan, Jonathan brings in in-theatre experience. Jonathan writes about Russia, Canada and Arctic.