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2018 May 8

Ilya Muromets ready for Arctic endeavor

RF Navy’s Northern Fleet has successfully completed ice tests of the newest icebreaker Ilya Muromets. It took 19 days for the ship to perform the test ptogramme in the water areas of the Barents and Kara seas, in ice fields of different thickness and density. Ice thickness in the test area was ranging between 50 and 100 cm with ice concentration of 9/10ths to 10/10ths. Such conditions were acknowledged to be the most favorable for testing the capabilities of the new ship. The test results have confirmed the icebreaker’s performance characteristics.

The polar athlete

The new icebreaker is a multi-functional ship able to perform rescue, towing and transport operations, conduct hydrographic research. Just like any icebreaker, the Ilya Muromets is equipped with an electric propulsion unit allowing for a high maneuverability required in challenging ice conditions. This feature is ensured by a considerable overload capability of the propulsion unit and flexibility in terms of power and torque. 

The Ilya Muromets is fitted with an electric propulsion unit designed by Ship Electric Engineering & Technology Institute (CNII SET), a branch of Krylov State Research Center. Its specific feature is the use frequency converters (the core of the entire propulsion system) fitted with active input rectifiers. Those converters let the electric propulsion system be more compact, improve the quality of electric energy in ship’s power mains, ensure higher performance and power efficiency of the entire propulsion system.  Converters of this type are based on domestic technologies allowing for further reduction of dependence of Russian shipbuilding on foreign equipment and components.

Oleg Savchenko, Deputy Director of CNII SET, comments: “Successful ice tests is a victory for us, indeed, since we have applied a new electric propulsion scheme based on active converters. This solution allowed for creation of a compact propulsion unit due to removal of transformers from the system equipment. With active converters we could raise the performance of the entire system, ensure high quality of electric energy in ship’s power mains and optimization of vibronoise characteristics”.

In the nearest time CNII SET is going to promote the new electric propulsion unit to the market of civil shipbuilding. Electric propulsion system based on active converters allows for recuperation of ship's power mains with subsequent recharging of electric batteries. This solution will let increase the efficiency of the entire electric power plant and ensure high level of reservation of power sources to improve general reliability of the system. It is of special significance for rescue ships, tugboats and offshore vessels. Besides, this solution will let achieve the highest level of ship’s environmental friendliness with no СО2 emissions and reduction of noise and vibration. It is especially important for fishing ships, scientific research vessels and other crafts operating in water areas with excusive environmental requirements.

To develop new equipment CNII SET had to apply unique solutions, both at the phase of design and tests.

During the ice tests, the icebreaker’s electric propulsion unit produced by CNII SET gave a good account of itself. In many respects, it took the main load of moving in ice since this type of propulsion unit is able to ensure safe moving and maneuvering in challenging ice conditions. Throughout the tests, the unit was working normally under all conditions and demonstrated its reliability. The system includes 2×3,500 kW propulsion motors, 2 frequency converters, electric propulsion panel, main switchboard, propulsion system control unit, uninterruptible Power Supply and panel of auxiliary electric drives.

While testing the icebreaker, specialists of CNII SET were on duty together with the crew to ensure the functioning of the electric propulsion unit and to help the crewmembers master its operation.

The Ilya Muromets icebreaker is not the first experience of CNII SET in equipping auxiliary fleet of RF Navy with electric propulsion systems. The company also created electric propulsion units for the following ships of RF Navy: multi-functional ship Zvezdochka, rescue ship Igor Belousov, tugboats of Projects 22030, 745 and 23470, hydrographic ships of Projects 19910 and 19920. Moreover, CNII SEТ is currently creating a unified electric power system for an icebreaking patrol ship of Project 23550.

It should be also noted that this project (creation of a new converter and electric propulsion system based on it) has driven the development of a naval electrical engineering cluster and, consequently, increased employment and economic results in the region.

In the nearest time, the Ilya Muromets will take part in an Arctic voyage of warships and auxiliary ships along the Northern Sea Route. The new icebreaker will considerably improve the support of the Northern Sea Fleet.

Contributed to IAA PortNews by press center of Krylov State Research Center