Thursday, 07 February 2019 15:06

Journey Rosatom: the atom and the ice

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As part of Rosatom, there is one relatively small structural unit, the Affairs and prospects of which, without any exaggeration, is closely monitored not only by Russia but also by many countries of the world.



2000 people, many of whom can not sit still — they can be seen with equal success in the Laptev sea, in the Kara sea, and only in the summer those who do not recover on vacation, gather at the former "Base-92", which is near Murmansk. We are talking, of course, about the Federal state unitary enterprise Rosatomflot, on which the development of the Northern sea route depends — a new transport artery capable of providing very serious prospects for the rise of our entire Arctic. We offer a brief look at the current state of Affairs, leaving the analysis of prospects and problems that will have to be solved for their implementation, for the next article.




"Base-92", with all the traditional for the Ministry of medium engineering secrecy — the name says, because the 92nd number in the periodic table belongs to the chemical element uranium. It appeared in its place as a small floating workshop in 1960, shortly after the first in the USSR and in the world nuclear icebreaker "Lenin"was launched. The place was not chosen by chance-not far from the Bay and CapePinagory located ship repair facility for military purposes "Northern machine-building enterprise", near the highways. The first years "Baza-92" was a strip of the coastal zone of the KolaBay with a small wooden berth and wooden buildings — repair shops, warehouses for the main and auxiliary equipment, several houses for the staff. The base was a structural unit of the Murmansk shipping company and was intended to serve for more than ten years remained the only "Lenin", but on March 1, 1968 the government decided to build three powerful icebreakers of the "Arctic" type, and in the same year the head Institute of the Ministry of Morflot "soyuzmorniiproekt" began to create a project of a full-scale repair and technical enterprise. Then there was another significant event — the Director of the constructed database was appointed Enver ibrahimović Tomarow. "Andrey Ivanovich", as the name of the future honorary citizen of Murmansk everyone who was familiar with him, led the base for 28 years, together with" Atomflot " experiencing all the difficult changes that took place in our country.


Active construction of the base started in the early 70's, by the early 80's ended the first phase of construction-repair and technological building, technological berths, storage of solid radioactive waste, auxiliary facilities. The second stage of construction, which ended at the turn of the 90s — is the coastal storage of spent nuclear fuel, water treatment facilities, additional berths, a fire station, an administrative building and other facilities. Now as a part of the enterprise all divisions allowing in a complex to serve not only nuclear icebreakers and vessels of auxiliary fleet, but also to perform work which in any other sea ports isn't carried out work. Storage facilities for liquid and solid radioactive waste, a complex for repair of nuclear power plants, laboratories providing radiation safety at the enterprise and controlling the external environment. The total length of the berths is now more than a kilometer, and Rosatom is doing everything possible to make them have to be increased in the coming years.


The Court "Rosatomflot»


Now as a part of "Rosatomflot" four operating nuclear icebreakers and nuclear container ship "Sevmorput". Two icebreakers such as "Arctic"-"Yamal" and "50 years of Victory" have a capacity of ship installations of 75 000 horsepower, which is provided by two water-water reactors OK-900A. Features of the body, the engine and this enormous power provide both icebreakers the ability to move on clean water at a speed of up to 20 knots and overcoming the ice thickness of up to 2.9 meters. However, the 11-meter draft does not allow them to enter the mouths of the Northern rivers, to work with river ice icebreakers such as "Taimyr" — "Vaigach" and "Taimyr" are used (the name of the ship coincides with the name of its type. The reactor KLT-40M (who became the prototype for reactors KLT-40C, installed on a floating NPP "Academician Lomonosov")) allows us to develop the capacity of 50 000 horsepower, which is enough in order to cope with the ice thickness up to 1.8 meters. The sediment of the "Vaigach" and "Taimyr" is 8.1 meters, which allows them to come into the mouth of the Yenisei and confidently to reach the port of Dudinka, through which the goods are Nik Norilsk combine, and to carry out the transaction icebreaking cargo ships to Murmansk.


The world's only icebreaker transport container ship "Sevmorput" was built in the Crimea, at the shipyard "Gulf" in 1986, as part of the fleet — since 1988. The vessel is designed for transportation of cargo in lighters and containers, the KLT-40M reactor allows it to move independently in ice up to 1 meter thick, but, unlike icebreakers, it can safely operate in warm waters. The first years of " Sevmorput "delivered goods on routes Odessa — Vietnam — Vladivostok and Vladivostok — North Korea, then began to work all for the same" Norilsk Nickel " from Dudinka to Murmansk.


However, at the beginning of the "zero" Norilsk Nickel "built several ice-class vessels for its own needs, and "SMP" was out of business. The Murmansk shipping company in 2007 even tried to develop the project of reorganization of the vessel in floating drilling rig, but in 2008 "SMP", as well as all nuclear icebreakers, was transferred to the balance of" Rosatomflot", which became a structural unit of Rosatom. "SMP" survived only by a miracle, in 2009, the General Director of Rosatomflot Vyacheslav Ruksha uttered very bitter words:


"SMP" is out of work, and if this situation continues in 2010, it will have to "pass it on needles." And could serve another 15 years.


But, apparently, " SMP "was built" under the lucky star " — at the end of December 2013 Sergey Kiriyenko signed an order to restore the lighter. In December 2015 "SMP" successfully passed sea trials, in may 2016 delivered 5.8 thousand tons of cargo to Sabetta. Now we are talking about its further modernization — Rosatom intends to use it in the development of zinc and lead ore deposits on the New Earth.


«Nuclear legacy»


In addition to vessels with nuclear engines, Rosatomflot has a small fleet of auxiliary vessels that ensure the smooth and safe operation of the nuclear fleet. In 1974, the ship "Serebryanka" was built, it is on the move and now, because it is extremely necessary — a vessel for the collection and storage of liquid radioactive waste, in recent years, it has been retrofitted and is now able to accept, provide temporary storage and unloading not only LRW, but also SNF and FA (fuel assemblies) icebreaker reactors. Floating technical base "Imandra" was built in 1980, is designed to recharge reactors, is able to provide delivery to the icebreakers clean and reception of radioactive liquids, gases and solids on the route of the Northern sea route. The newest auxiliary vessel of Rosatomflot — container ship "Rosita»


Somewhat unusual name of the vessel stands simply - "Russia-Italy", it was built at the shipyards in Italy specifically for the Russian Arctic. In 2003, an Intergovernmental agreement was signed on bilateral cooperation for the disposal of Russian nuclear submarines withdrawn from the Navy and the processing of radioactive waste and SNF. The agreement between Russia and Italy was signed in pursuance of the decisions of the "Big eight" adopted in Canencia (Canada). The signing of the contract for the design and construction took place in July 2008, built "Rossita" was at the shipyard in Mujano, owned by the company "Fincantieri", which is notable for its cooperation with Russia for more than 100 years. Back in 1914, here by order of the tsarist government was built submarine f-3, which did not have time to pass to the customer because of the war-f — 3 was part of the Italian Navy. Rosita has been designed and built to ensure maximum safety during transportation of all types of radioactive waste and SNF, the vessel will be at the disposal of Rosatomflot until Rosatom can finally get rid of the Soviet "nuclear heritage". The routes Rossita lie between the village of Gremikha, AndreevaBay, SaydaBay and Severodvinsk. For those who these names don't say anything, Analytical online magazine "Geoenergetika" preparing a separate series of articles.


The Project "Portoflot»


In recent years, the number of personnel of Rosatomflot has slowly but steadily increased — new times have come, and new in a variety of ways. After the company NOVATEK started the implementation of the project "Yamal LNG", its specialists became obvious that without tug ice class to serve huge tankers in the port of Sabetta year-round would be impossible. The corresponding tender was announced, "clumsy state structure" - what a surprise! - was able to offer the customer better conditions than competing with her effective private owners.


On November 24, 2014, Atomflot and Yamal LNG signed a contract for the provision of a range of port fleet services with the main period of validity until December 31, 2040. This duration of term is a clear hint of close relationship with the nuclear industry of Russia, although, given the terms that appear in the contracts of the parent Rosatom, this contract, perhaps, can be called "short-term". But about how, than tugs ice class "PUR" and "Tambey" differ from icebreaker tugs "Yuribey" and "Nadym", why in kit to them is needed port icebreaker "Ob", tell will have in separate article. The topic is interesting and very instructive — for the first time a state-owned company works for a private company, this is the first project where the nuclear and gas "branches" of energy interact so closely, this project reflects the strengths and weaknesses of the domestic shipbuilding and instrument-making, features of project planning and much more. According to Atomflot's estimates, the company's staff will increase by 120 places to fulfill its contractual obligations, but there is reason to hope that this is only the beginning.


On the horizon, not only the launch of the fourth production line of Yamal LNG, but also the beginning of the construction of Arctic LNG-2, the beginning of the project of the Pavlovsk Deposit, the active development of Taimyr coal. Given the fact that the Arctic region is the focus of attention of the Russian leadership, we will often see news from Atomflot. The initiatives of the President and the government of Russia coincide surprisingly fully with the mission formulated for themselves by Atomflot: on the basis of the application of the achievements of nuclear energy to promote the intensification of Arctic shipping — a determining factor in the rise and development of the North of Russia. However, it is already obvious that Atomflot will have to provide assistance not only to navigation in the Arctic — at its base in Murmansk are the last checks of the reactors of pates "Academician Lomonosov", which, though the ship, but in fact does not go anywhere.


At the beginning of a long journey


In addition to developing gas and coal projects, Atomflot provides, on a regular basis, if necessary, icebreaking support during the Northern delivery, since 2014, ensures uninterrupted supply of oil from the Novoportovskoye field, conducts transport vessels to Pevek, in the port of which the infrastructure necessary for the reception of the pates "Academician Lomonosov" is prepared. Regular customers of services "Atomflot" are not only the Ministry of defence, but a number of scientific institutes, state research navigation-hydrographic Institute (gningi), Arctic and Antarctic research Institute (AARI), "Sevmorneftegeofizika", "Arktikmorneftegazrazvedka" (AMNGR), "Marine Arctic geological expedition (mage). The intensification of the work of all these customers ensures the growth of cargo traffic along the Northern sea route, in 2017 the volume for the first time exceeded the maximum results of the Soviet period — 10.5 million tons against 8.5 million tons in 1988, the official results of 2018 will be known in the near future.


But at the same time, it is necessary to be aware of the indicators of the main competitor of the Northern sea route, because after the appearance of the Suez canal understudy, the volume of cargo passing through it reached one billion tons. In order to compete with the traditional route of freight traffic between Europe and Asia, the whole of Russia will have to make great efforts to develop not only the Northern sea route, but also the ports of the Arctic coast, to lay highways on the mainland. The Russian government has been trying to develop a comprehensive development plan for many years, but instead of the result, something strange is happening. The state Duma adopted a law on the basis of which the Northern sea route and the Arctic coast had a single "operator of development" — Rosatom. What will be the fate of the law in the future, it is difficult to predict — ministries and government agencies are actively fighting against giving Rosatom a major role in the Arctic, and interdepartmental wars sometimes last for years.




In Soviet times, there was an Agency called "GLAVSEVMORPUT", The main Department of the Northern sea route, created in 1932 under the Sovnarkom. The history of decision-making on its creation is remarkable, let us allow ourselves a small historical digression. In 1999, the book of memories Of mark Ivanovich Shevelev "the Arctic is my destiny"was published in a microscopic edition of 999 copies. Mark Shevelev is the closest associate of Otto Schmidt, one of the founders of the Polar aviation of the Northern sea route and its head for more than 30 years, Lieutenant General of aviation, Hero of the Soviet Union, chief of staff of long-range Aviation. This list can be continued and continued, but now about how he happened to become a direct participant in the creation of the main sea route:


"In 1932 the campaign of the icebreaker Serebryakov under the leadership of Otto Schmidt ended. For the first time in the history of the Arctic, the ship passed the Northern sea route in one navigation, without wintering, which could not be done by any researcher. The experience of Serebryakov was so impressive that after the expedition, O. Schmidt was invited to the government for a report on the campaign. He and V. V. Kuibyshev were instructed to prepare a report with proposals on the possibilities of navigation along the Northern sea route and what needs to be done so that ships can swim regularly. A group of people who already worked in the Arctic and in the Committee of the Northern sea route, including me, was gathered. ... According to our project, we gave dozens of orders to all drug addicts. Different objects had to build various organizations, in whose Department there were these or those functions. For example, the drug Composter should be responsible for the construction of radio stations, Vneshtorg had to buy icebreaker ships, etc. ... When all this was reported to the Politburo, Stalin, who, Smoking a pipe, walked along the table, asked:


 "Do you think all this can be done?»


Answered:"If there is a decision".


Stalin: "we scold the people's Commissar every week for the fact that he can not properly transport oil from Baku along the Volga, and you want him to think about your Tiksi, the port was building there? He thinks that tomorrow he will receive a reprimand for transportation of oil, and for your Affairs, for Tiksi, reprimand to it threatens years in two-three. He won't do anything in Tiksi! Narkompochtel that the newspaper to be delivered on time can not, well, where the radio center building on Dickson! No, he won't do Dixon, he'll assign someone. That's bad! The Arctic is a complicated thing. We need to create an organization that would be responsible for everything. And I would know-is responsible for the Arctic and more for nothing. And we with it ask — and strictly! Then you'll get the job done. Let's do it differently. Paper redo, but we will write the decree: the creation of the Council of people's Commissars of the Main administration of the Northern sea route, commit him to pave the way from the White sea to the Bering Strait, to equip it, to keep it in good condition and to ensure safe navigation. Enough for now."


The documents were redone, and the people's Commissar and Politburo made a serious decision. The entire territory of the Arctic circle was entrusted to the Central Board with all sectors of the economy, from transport, construction of industrial enterprises and ending with trade, harvesting furs, the creation of cultural bases, schools, hospitals. Stalin compared this organization to the once-existing East India company. Only we have built it needs to be not on blood, not on the bones of the local population, and on the basis of raising their culture. Joked that here the East India company had its troops to suppress the uprisings, and we all have to be resolved peacefully, so "guns Schmidt not to give!"On the basis of these instructions, Stalin later developed a large resolution on the construction of new icebreakers, which were not then, the creation of polar aviation, the development of industries, industry, the construction of new plants.

So the birth of the Northern sea route took place. We started working. Order 1, which gave Schmidt, dated January 1, 1933."


Main rival


The quote is long, but we think it's worth it. Bureaucracy, interdepartmental squabbles and intrigues have existed at all times, no system of government is not able to avoid this problem. The method proposed by Stalin in 1932, called the project planning for a specific project create a "superbeasto", combining the capabilities of all organizations and enterprises which can be useful for business. The most famous and most successful example of Soviet project planning is the Special Committee on the use of nuclear energy, the example from the main sea route turned out to be much less effective. At first the war prevented, then circumstances developed so that the Soviet bureaucracy "won" — many separate projects created by the real professionals were "postponed in a distant box" or were carried out somehow. The consequences of numerous mistakes and shortcomings are both unfinished roads and unsolved problems of energy supply to settlements, which, because of this, in the 90s came almost to complete desolation, which now have to be restored with such difficulty. But now there is no war, but the development of the domestic nuclear project — is.


Russia is a world leader in the use of the nuclear icebreaker fleet to solve transport problems in the Arctic seas and non-Arctic freezing seas. As we can see, Atomflot is ready for the development of a non — nuclear icebreaker fleet-its vast experience helps it to solve organizational and technical problems related to this. Next year, The academician Lomonosov nuclear power plant will be put into operation-Rosatom is in practice starting to implement the problem of energy supply in the Arctic. The construction of the latest nuclear icebreakers of the 22 220 project is coming to an end — with difficulty, with tension, but the ability to work in a single team of Rosatom, the iceberg Central design Bureau and the Baltic shipyard is being restored, ice-class tugs are being built by shipbuilders of the Crimea. Large Russian business also goes to the Arctic-for the first time after a long break there was a new village Sabetta, built new deep-water ports, planned construction of the railway, which has not coped with the USSR.


Russia received a second historical chance to return to the development of the Arctic and the Northern sea route, but on a completely different technological basis. I want to believe that this time it will be possible to win and the main rival — bureaucracy.


Author: Boris Martsinkevich




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