In a last move as PM, Russia’s Medvedev secured funding for the first Lider-class icebreaker

The ship will be significantly larger than any previous icebreaker.

By Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer - January 20, 2020
Russia’s plans for a massive new nuclear-powered icebreaker is now a step closer to reality. (Rosatomflot illustration via The Independent Barents Observer)

On January 15, the same day he delivered his resignation, former Russian Prim minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a resolution allocating 127 billion rubles (€1.85 billion) to build a nuclear-powered icebreaker bigger and more powerful than anything that previously has sailed in icy Arctic waters.

What many skeptics believed was an unrealistic, fantasy project of Arctic ‘giantism’ now appears set to become reality. The Lider-class icebreaker will have a displacement of 55,000 tons, about twice the weight of the current Arktika-class icebreakers like the Yamal and 50 let Pobedy.

Medvedev’s resolution states that the funding goes to Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear corporation, in charge of both the Northern Sea Route infrastructure and the operation of the nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet sailing out of Murmansk.

It was RIA Novosti that first reported about Medvedev’s decision to provide funding build the first Lider-class icebreaker.

Outgoing Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a resolution allocating funds for the first Lider-class nuclear-powered icebreaker.(Thomas Nilsen / The Independent Barents Observer)

The money is allocated for the period 2020-2027.

It is planned to build three Lider-class icebreakers with deliveries from 2027 to 2035.

With capability to break through 4.1-meter-thick ice, the Lider can practically sail year-around in all known ice-conditions along the Northern Sea Route north of Siberia as well as crossing the Transpolar Route on the top of the world.

The vessels are twice the size of the icebreakers of the 22220 class currently under construction at the Baltic Yard in St. Petersburg, and 13.5 meters wider.

Two reactors 

Powered by two RITM-400 reactors, the steam generators will provide 120 MW to the propellers, making the vessels more powerful than anything else that ever has sailed the icy Arctic waters. In design, the reactors are similar to the RITM-200 onboard the 22220 class, but more powerful.

The first of the 22220 icebreakers, the Arktika will be delivered and sail north to Murmansk later this year, while the two others, the Sibir and Ural are slated for delivery in 2021 and 2022.

With funding now secured from the government, the first construction of the Lider-class icebreaker is likely to start at the Zvezda Shipyard in the Far East later this year.

Cruising the ice along the Northern Sea Route, the Lider icebreakers will open wide ship lanes across the region for escorts of commercial ships, including the largest LNG tankers sailing east from the Yamal region towards the Pacific.