The one-of-a-kind Russian North Pole ice-resistant self-propelled platform is being delayed, according to a report by Kommersant.
It is being built at the Admiralty Shipyards and it was supposed to be finished in 2020, but it is now being pushed back for 2 years for 2022.
The price of the contract, including due to the adjustment of its parameters by the customer, will increase by 2–2.5 billion rubles ($27 million to $34 million).
According to Kommersant’s unnamed sources, the time and cost of building the North Pole ice-resistant self-propelled platform increased.
The ship is being built by order of Roshydromet at the Admiralty Shipyards belonging to the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC).
Its cost (before the potential increase) sits at 6.96 billion rubles ($97 million), and was allocated from the Russian budget as part of the program for the socio-economic development of the Arctic zone.
It was assumed that the platform will be commissioned at the end of 2020.
Kommersant requested a comment from Roshydromet, but they were forwarded to the Ministry of Natural Resources, and they received no answer.
The USC notes that the platform is a unique object, in the design and construction of which the corporation faced a number of new technical problems.
For example, it was required to ensure the autonomy of the facility in terms of fuel reserves for two years, and as such the associated systems required improvement, the corporation explains.
In addition, a lot of issues were related to the fact that the vessel would remain frozen in ice for a long time.
It is required to provide both cooling systems and the capability of the propulsion system to take it out of the freezing ice.
USC also emphasized that such a machine had never been built before in the history of shipbuilding.
The corporation also notes that, following consultations with the customer, the displacement of the vessel increased significantly, and therefore, “work is underway to adjust the timing and price in the manner prescribed by law.”
A similar comment was provided by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
The contract for the construction of the North Pole between Roshydromet and the Admiralty Shipyards was concluded in April 2018. The length of the vessel is 83.1 m, the width is 22.5 m, the speed is at least 10 knots, and the hull strength is Arc8. The vessel will have autonomy in fuel reserves of about two years and a service life of at least 25 years. The crew is 14 people, the scientific staff is 34 people.
The self-propelled platform will be able to independently move through ice of a small thickness and accommodate heavy helicopters such as Mi-8 AMT (Mi-17).
The ship should continue the tradition of Soviet and Russian scientific expeditions, which since 1937 landed on drifting ice in the deep sea of the Arctic Ocean. But in recent years, due to the melting of perennial ice, it has become increasingly difficult to find sufficiently safe ice floes.
Prior to the commissioning of the North Pole, research in the Arctic was planned to be carried out as part of the international project of the Multidisciplinary Scientific Observatory for Arctic Climate Research (MOSAiC) at a drift station created on the basis of the German research vessel Polarstern.
In addition, an investment of 1.7 billion rubles ($23 million) was planned in 2020 to use the captain Dranitsyn icebreaker Rosmorport as a drifting station frozen in ice. But there is no information to confirm or deny the reports.
Kommersant’s sources noted that the uniqueness of the North Pole, as well as changes to the documentation and restrictions in the context of the pandemic can be considered objective factors that could increase the time and cost of the project.
And, a leading vessel of its class, there are sure to be some initial issues, and a 2.5-year development and construction timeline was likely too optimistic from the beginning.
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