Nuclear icebreaker got stuck in the bushes | Latest news The Moscow Post
30 November 2023

Nuclear icebreaker got stuck in the "bushes"

The Baltic Shipyard filed a lawsuit against the Kirovsky Zavod for 200 million rubles due to non-delivery of turbo generators. The Kirovsky Zavod, offended, wrote a counterclaim to the Baltic Shipyard for 1 billion rubles. Who will win?

But in addition to these two deafening news, there is an equally deafening third news: huge business which is developing the Arctic subsurface will take part in the creation of a new icebreaking fleet in Russia. This was stated by Andrey Ivanov, a representative of the Communications Department of Rosatom State Company. Rosatom now believes that not only the state should bear all possible risks in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation.

But the whole issue is not even about money: the state has already allocated more than 120 billion rubles for the creation of new nuclear icebreakers of the 22220 series — these are: "Arktika", "Sibir" and "Ural". But even these billions do not solve problems with nuclear icebreakers, as there are still huge difficulties with the turbines that were supplied to Russia by Turboatom (Kharkov Turbine Plant) until 2014. Russian plants are not able to fully master the production of these turbines so far. However, as it turned out, things are bad, not only with turbines, but also with electric motors. One of them took the last count on the nuclear icebreaker "Arktika" during mooring tests.

Generally, it is horrible. But why did they start building several icebreakers at once, and moreover, why did they put low-quality electric motors on all nuclear icebreakers? And how many billions will the defect cost for the state?

Who should be responsible for this long-term construction? Of course, the Rosatom GC, the United Shipbuilding Corporation and  the Baltic Shipyard, although the latter is already shifting the blame on the Kirovsky Zavod.

Who is to blame? What should be done now? A correspondent of  The Moscow Post sorted out these collisions.

"Ural" went off

So, the Baltic Shipyard did not receive steam turbines for the nuclear icebreaker "Ural" from the Kirovsky Zavod. This icebreaker, according to the promises of the Rosatom GC, would have to reach the expanses of the Northern Sea Route in 2022. This is what  Kommersant writes about.

As it turned out, the unit, was expected by the Baltic Shipyard in October 2019. However, the contractor reported that funding from the customer was not received in time. And the components of the turbines were not received as well, so it will challenge the claim for 200 million rubles.

The Baltic Shipyard filed a claim for 200 million rubles against three enterprises of the Kirovsky Zavod GC: KirovEnergoMash JSC, Saint Petersburg Tractor Plant JSC and Kirovsky Zavod PJSC.

Both Rosatomflot and the United Shipbuilding Corporation were engaged as third parties.

Memorial board in honor of the foundation of the nuclear icebreaker "Ural"

The requirements themselves are related to a long delay in the delivery of a steam turbine unit for the icebreaker "Ural" by the KirovEnergoMash Plant JSC. The State Company structures appear to be joint guarantors of the contractor's obligations.

Alexey Kadilov, General Director of the Baltic Shipyard, warned that the delivery was being delayed in December 2019. But then the Kirovsky Zavod reported that they had agreed on the delivery date of the steam turbine unit to the nuclear icebraker "Ural" for June 2020.

It looks like June has gone off...

The nuclear icebreaker "Ural" construction began on July 25, 2016

The worse is yet to come

In should be reminded that the first contract for the construction of the nuclear icebreaker "Arktika" was signed by FSUE "Rosatomflot" and the Baltic Shipyard, which is part of USC, in 2012. 37 billion rubles were allocated by the state. In 2014, another contract was signed for the construction of two more 22220 series icebreakers "Sibir" and "Ural" with a total amount of 84.4 billion rubles.

And contracts for the supply of steam turbines for all icebreakers were signed with the the Kirovsky Zavod, despite the fact that steam turbines became the key problem of the main nuclear vessel "Arktika". Another obstacle: steam turbines had to be created and tested by the Ukrainian Kharkov Turbine Plant. But the events of 2014 happened. All connections with the Kharkov Turbine Plant were lost...

And the stand for the turbines testing had to be built at KirovEnergoMash. And soon problems began: at a certain moment, the customer demanded that the contractor pay a forfeit - 160 million rubles for the main vessel- the nuclear icebreaker "Arktika".

KirovEnergoMash challenged the decision of the court of first instance on appeal. But without success. At this time, the Kirovsky Zavod was insistently demanding to change the agreements with the Baltic Shipyard and to remove responsibility for violation of delivery deadlines. And it won in three instances.

So the lawsuits accompany the construction of new nuclear icebreakers along the entire way to the Northern Sea Route.

But so far, everything that is happening, apparently, is just the beginning. The worse is yet to come, if we take into account the problems that have already arisen around the construction of new nuclear giants.

The nuclear icebreaker "Sibir"

So, the JSC KirovEnergoMash Plant filed a lawsuit against the Baltic Shipyard in the amount of almost 1.08 billion rubles. This follows from the file of arbitration cases. The claims were filed on April 13. This is reported in detail by Kommersant.

It is necessary to remind that the Baltic Shipyard should hand over the icebreaker "Arktika" in May of 2020. However, not only problems with turbines, but also with electric motors push the deadline for an indefinite period.

The "Sibir" and the "Ural" nuclear icebreakers were promised to be put in service in 2021 and 2022, respectively. But it is a no-brainer - these atomic giants will not go to sea at these periods of time!

Let us also recall this telling fact: at the beginning of 2019, Rosatomflot and the Baltic Shipyard signed a contract for the construction of two more nuclear icebreakers of the 22220 project. The delivery of these nuclear-powered vessels is even scheduled for December 2024 and December 2026, respectively.

Director of the Baltic Shipyard Alexey Kadilov

But who truly believes in this? Unless the "Holy Trinity" - Rosatom, USC and the Baltic Shipyard?

The deadlines for delivery of the "Arktika" have been postponed many times. And are postponed further. And today, among the key problems are not only defective electric motors which are supplied by Vladimir Dorokhin's company Ruselprom, but also, as we can see, problematic turbines from KirovEnergoMash.

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

The Head of the USC Alexey Rakhmanov always keeps his eye on the ball

Outstaffing at the Baltic Shipyard

What is happening at the Baltic Shipyard? And why do investigators come there more often?

Not so long ago, the Investigative Committee completed its investigation of the criminal case of budget millions theft, which were allocated for the construction of the nuclear icebreaker "Arktika". As a result, Alexander Kharitonov, the General Director of the LLC Baltic Plant of Hydraulic Equipment, was accused of fraud. This was written in detail by The Moscow Post .

It was the plant of Alexander Kharitonov that had not supplied pumps for the production of the steam turbine unit of the nuclear icebreaker "Arktika" to the subsidiary of the PJSC Kirovsky Zavod - JSC KirovEnergoMash.

But the management of the Baltic Shipyard itself then blamed the supplier of the turbine unit JSC Kirov-Energomash, which received a contract for 2.7 billion rubles. And the supplier complained about the Krylov State Reseach Centre, which did not ship the generators in time.

But investigators have "dug up" a lot of interesting things at the Baltic Shipyard. The management of the Baltic plant was asked questions about why hull, welding-slipway, pipeline work is constantly transferred to the side? And why contractors appear to be companies with minimal authorized capital?

Why do random people come to the regime Baltic Shipyard?

These organizations at the regime Baltic plant, as a rule, have all the signs of affiliation with each other. Investigators found that NVL, VSK and PTK Energia, Nevskaya Artel, as well as Muelhan Morflot and Morflot-Technologiya were closely linked.

Are the new nuclear icebreakers at the Baltic Shipyard built by random people?

For example, not so long ago, the Baltic plant through the company "Nevsky contractor" required operators of machine tools with software control, turners, millers and locksmiths - more than 1000 people. All these specialists were recruited by the so-called outstaffing: employment documents were issued behind the high fence of the plant, but all of them came to work at the regime Baltic Shipyard.

It has to be reminded that the delivery of the "Arctic" was scheduled for December 2017. But after the failure of the supply of components, the completion date was moved to 2019. From the very beginning the explaination of the problems was connected with the breakdown in relations with Ukraine. Due to the conflict with Kiev, the turbine tests were moved to KirovEnergoMash. The Kirovsky Zavod created its own test stand for 1.1 billion rubles. 500 million rubles were issued by the Industrial Development Fund of the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The issue of delays in the delivery of components was discussed with the participation of Vladimir Putin. The President demanded to make personnel and management decisions in connection with the failure of the state contract. The Accounts Chamber, the Prosecutor General's office, and the FSB (Federal Security Service) were checked one after another.

So why then two more hulls of the new nuclear icebreakers are added to the three ones? What is the ultimate goal?

It seems that the three ones (Rosatom, USC and the Baltic Shipyard) know the answer.

The model of the nuclear icebreaker "Arktika" was put on public display while the real "Arktika" was being built (and is being built) at the Baltic Shipyard

"Big wallet" on the Northern Sea Route

They say that beginning with 2025, navigation on the Northern Sea Route should become year-round. And new icebreakers are needed in order to implement these fantastic plans. Previously, the construction was supposed to be funded entirely from the Federal budget. But, eventualy, it was decided that the icebreakers, which are actually being created for large commercial projects, are impractical to be build only at the expense of taxpayers. And some well-known large companies agreed to co-finance these construction projects.

Therefore, it is quite possible that there will be savings: 20 billion rubles for each nuclear-powered vessel. In return, businesses can get discounts on shipping vessels along the Northern Sea Route. This is reported by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

But it is necessary to pave the way for transport vessels in the ice in the channels of the Gulf of Ob, as well as on the Yenisei river. Today, this work is assigned to the old icebreakers of Rosatomflot. But the service life of these working "horses" expires in a few years - by 2027-2028.

By this date, new nuclear icebreakers of 22220 project should be present in Rosatom's "stables". And in accordance with the "Target arrangement of the Arctic icebreaker fleet by 2025-2030", beginning with 2025, the entire new family of nuclear-powered vessels is supposed to be dispersed in the Eastern direction from the Vilkitsky Strait to the Bering Strait.

By this time, the Yermak-type diesel icebreakers of Rosmorport will be approaching half a century old, and the rental rate for the "Viktor Chernomyrdin" icebreaker, according to Rosatomflot, is excessively high. But cargo traffic along the Northern Sea Route will increase greatly during this time. New icebreaking capacity is needed. And 4 new LNG-powered LK40 icebreakers will have to provide transportation in the Gulf of Ob, on the Yenisei river and in the Kara Sea by 2025-2030.

But this is also only a dream.

When will all the new nuclear-powered vessels leave the slipways of the Baltic Shipyard?

This is also indicated in the "Comprehensive plan for the modernization and expansion of the trunk infrastructure for the period up to 2024". The document states that these vessels should allow year-round shipment of liquefied natural gas from the port of Sabetta.

The construction of LNG-powered icebreakers is not provided for in the "Plan for the infrastructure development of the Northern Sea Route for the period up to 2025", which was approved in December 2019. Their construction was announced by the "NOVATEK" company. But there is still no final decision.

Today, Rosatom does not tire of repeating that the super-powerful icebreaker "Lider" is expected to appear soon. But the vessel will be very expensive: according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, the cost of the "Lider" may amount to 128 billion rubles.

Experts state that a revision of the "Lider" project is possible in the current economic situation, especially since there is competition among manufacturers of turbines for nuclear icebreakers: in addition to KirovEnergoMash, OJSC Kaluga Turbine Works, Power Machines and JSC UEC-Perm Engines could potentially compete for the order.

However, the Baltic Shipyard requires the delivery of large-sized turbo-generator units assembled in order to implement only installation  and strapping on the nuclear vessel. It is not possible to deliver complete units from the regions, so the Kirovsky Zavod with its stand, located near the Baltic Shipyard, becomes irreplaceable.

It should be reminded that Energomash at its time was designing and making units for all 10 nuclear-powered ice-class vessels. But all this was created in cooperation with Ukrainian shipbuilders. Experts unanimously state: all these problems occur exactly because of the lack of a high-quality testing base for steam turbine units.

What else is very disturbing? In the near future, only "50 Let Pobedy" will remain in service from all nuclear icebreakers. The old nuclear icebreakers "Sibir" and "Arktika" have already been withdrawn to cold stuff.

The United Shipbuilding Corporation continues to complain about personnel problems, a large time gap in the implementation of projects, as well as the alteration of the technical project and documentation. Complaints also go to Krylov State Reseach Centre, which delayed the delivery of generators for more than two years. Mikhail Zagorodnikov, Executive Director of Krylov State Reseach Centre, believes that the delay is the fault of Alexey Rakhmanov's office: the competition had been continuing for more than 5 months, although the technical project was ready in 2009. The working design began in 2013.

Nuclear icebreaker "Arktika" was promised to be handed over in 2017

What is the result?

Several hulls of the nuclear icebreakers were "set up", and they announced new successes and achievements to the whole world. But all three brand new nuclear icebreakers - "Arktika", "Sibir", and "Ural" - are still sitting "in the bushes": and where is it possible to go without steam turbines and with a defective electric motor? If only to the Gulf of Finland and back, as the "Arktika" was "going" in December last year, 2019 on three tugboats, until it lost one of the electric motors.

Isn't it time to seriously ask for an explanation concerning all this "circus" that accompanies the construction of multi-billion nuclear vessels, beginning from 2012?

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