Scientific approach to Arctic ice
Russian Arctic holds tremendous hydrocarbon reserves but they have to be discovered. Scientific research of Arctic climate and nature is also required to arrange transit along the Northern Sea Route which is impossible without powerful icebreakers or new research expedition ships able to operate amid insufficient coast infrastructure. Russia has already developed a new generation design of such a vessel.
There are lots of points in the Arctic that have no berths or transshipment facilities. Specifically, they are polar stations of Roshydromet (Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring Agency of Russia, navigation points (light stations and stations of the Hydrographic Enterprise), frontier posts and small settlements with the ‘remains’ of berthing facilities.
Today, major scope of transport and scientific research works in the Arctic is being carried out by research vessel Mikhail Somov (Roshydromet) built in 1975. The vessel has exhausted her performance potential and is subject to decommissioning by 2018. This will lead to closing of the majority of polar stations, considerably affect the operation of Roshydromet organizations on providing forecasts and insights supporting implementation of state tasks related to continental shelf development, NSR shipping, national defence, basic and applied research.
Taking into account the state of RS Mikhail Somov, the construction of a new multipurpose research vessel throughout 2015-2018 is of prime importance for the Arctic today.
In 2012-2013, Krylov State Research Center developed a conceptual design of a new large research expedition vessel intended for supply of the Arctic stations and investigation of the Arctic shelf under the federal special-purpose programme “Development of civil marine facilities in 2009 – 2016”. Under the project Krylov Center has developed engineering documentation, performed the calculations on icebreaking capability and hydrodynamics to verify the design solutions.
Characteristics of the Arctic research expedition vessel:
Class notation - КМ Arс7  АUT2-С ОМВО DYNPOS-2 REF EPP ECO-S HELIDECK Special purpose ship
LOA, m 151.6
BOA, m 24
Draught at the summer load waterline, m 7
Displacement, 7 16,820
Crew, persons 59
Personnel, persons 61
Speed, knots ab. 16
The Arctic research expedition vessel is designed in compliance with the latest international requirements on safe operation, environmental standards related to control and prevention of emissions and pollution including those in case of incidents. The vessel will be fitted with the state-of-the-art propulsion unit allowing for enhanced maneuverability and dynamic positioning according to DYNPOS-2 class of Russian Maritime Register of Shipping. The ship will also be equipped with the most advanced research and development complex and will have the highest potential for cargo transportation among the existing research expedition vessels.
As Krylov Center told IAA PortNews, the new ship is intended for replacement of research stations personnel, delivery of cargo to Arctic stations (including food, research equipment, supplies, fuel, spare parts and consumables), execution of research works in the ocean, studying of natural processes and phenomena, removal of waste from the Arctic.
The vessel of unrestricted navigation will be able to sail in Arctic seas (ice class Arc7). Her sea endurance will be at least 40 days (in terms of fuel) and 100 days (in terms of food).
The ship will be equipped with a tandem crane with a capacity of 2х25 t and four 2-tonne cranes.
The ship will also have a helideck for one Mi-8, as well as special quarters, landing place, equipment and systems.
Diving systems for operation at the depth of up to 12 m can be placed in on of 20-ft containers on the deck.
The vessel’s scientific complex will consist of 17 fixed-site laboratories and stations, 4 mobile laboratories in 20-ft containers, U-shaped frame with a lifting capacity of 30 t, two 12-tonne cranes, winches, rotating cranes etc.
Each of 4 diesel generators will have the power of 5,220 kW. There will be two Azipod propulsion units with a power of some 7,000 kW each, 2 bow thrusters of 1,000 kW each.
The newly designed research expedition vessel is a multipurpose ship of new generation able to support high level of research works in the Arctic.