Ural icebreaker

Ural icebreaker cruise ship

Cruise line
Russia (Icebreakers)

Specifications of Ural icebreaker

Year built2022 new ship
BuilderBaltiysky Zavod/Baltic Shipyard (St Petersburg, Russia)
ClassRussian nuclear icebreaker (LK-60YA class, Project 22220)
Building costRUB 50 billion (USD 720 million / EUR 640 million)
OwnerRussian Federation
OperatorAtomflot (Rosmorport)
Speed22 kn / 41 kph / 25 mph
Length (LOA)173 m / 568 ft
Beam (width)34 m / 112 ft
Gross Tonnage33540 gt
Passengers64 - 128
Decks with cabins5
Sister-shipsNS Sibir (2021), NS Arktika (2020), NS Yakutia (2024), NS Chukotka (2026)

Ural icebreaker Review

Review of Ural icebreaker

NS Ural ("атомный ледокол Урал") is a new design (and the world's largest) Russian nuclear icebreaker. "NS" stands for "nuclear ship". The vessel is state-owned (by the Russian Federation) and operated by Atomflot. The Atomflot company provides all Russian nuclear icebreakers with maintenance and technological services. The company also serves the country's special vessels fleet.

Besides NS Ural, the list of other Russian nuclear icebreaker ships includes 50 Let Pobedy, Rossiya, Sibir (2021, sistership), Arktika (2020, sistership), Yakutia (2024, sistership), Chukotka (2026, sistership), Sovetskiy Soyuz (1990), Taymyr (1989), Vaygach (1990), Yamal (1992).

NS Ural icebreaker (nuclear ship)

Among the newest Russian icebreaker ships, Ural is a Project 22220 (aka LK-60Ya) a special class of 5 nuclear-powered icebreakers designed and constructed in Russia. Being the third in this series, NS Ural's keel was laid down in September 2016 and the ship (by contract) was planned to enter service in 2020 but eventually rescheduled for 2022. These ships are currently the world's ever-biggest and most powerful icebreakers, surpassing the "nuclear cruise ship" 50 Let Pobedy (50 Years of Victory) by length (14 m longer) and width (4 m wider).

Negotiations between the Russian companies Atomflot and USC (United Shipbuilding Corporation) have been lengthy. In early 2013, the federal government allocated RUB (rubles) 86,1 billion (or ~USD 1,3 billion) for the project. Rosatom (also state-owned corporation) insisted that the two ice-breaking vessels should have a total building cost of RUB 77,5 billion (~USD 1,2 billion), but the offer was declined by the shipbuilder. A second tender with the adjusted shipbuilding price of RUB 84,4 billion was announced in Dec 2013.

Due to vessel's dual-draft (8,7 m / 10,5 m), Ural icebreaker's itinerary program is based on Northern Sea Route shipping assistance and includes Arctic Russia sea navigation as well as polar river services. The ship's operational regions in the Arctic Ocean includes Barents Sea, Kara Seas, Pechora River, Yenisei River estuary, Ob River (Gulf of Ob).

Russia's nuclear fleet of ice-breaking vessels is used exclusively in the Arctic Ocean for escorting merchant ships and assisting research stations floating in the ice-covered waters north of Siberia. These ships are also used for scientific and Arctic cruise expeditions. The Russian nuclear ice-breakers must sail in ice-cold waters to effectively cool their reactors.

NS Ural icebreaker vessel details

Project 22220 class Russian nuclear ships have minimal draught is 8,6 m / 28 ft and max draught is 10,5 m / 34 ft. The dual-draft design makes these ships capable of operating in both the Arctic Ocean and in ice-covered rivers.

new Arktika-class Russian icebreaker ship design (Project 22220)

Project 22220 icebreakers are equipped with two RITM-200 nuclear reactors with a total of 350 MW thermal capacity. Propulsion power output is 1100 MW. The previous design was for 60 MW output (the reason why this class is alternatively known as "LK-60"). RITM-200 model is a pressurized water reactor developed by OKBM Afrikantov (Russian mechanical engineering company) and designed to produce power output 55 MWe (megawatt electrical). RITM-200 uses up to 20% enriched uranium-235. The reactor is refuelled every 7 years and has planned lifespan of 40 years. RITM-200 is also used to power Russia's newest and most powerful aircraft carriers (Project 23000E). Ural ship's maximum ice-breaking capability is 2,8 m (9 ft) at cruising speed between 1,5-2 knots (2,8 kph / 1,7 mph).

In May 2015 was reported that Russia made a decision on the development of the design for its newest nuclear-powered icebreakers to be able to move across Arctic ice of thickness up to 4.5 m / 15 ft. The icebreaker features propulsion power of 110 MW. Russia's new icebreakers are nearly twice as powerful as Project 22220 nuclear ships.

new Arktika-class Russian icebreaker ship design (Project 22220)

The steel for the Ural ship (thick plate "Mill 5000") was supplied by the MMK company (Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works). The company one of the world's largest producers and suppliers with steel over 50% of Russia's shipbuilding. Steel plate "Mill 5000" is used for manufacturing the Russia's naval fleet, as well for building tankers and ice-class vessels. The steel is certified internationally, including by Lloyd's Register and Bureau Veritas.

NS Ural vessel has 1 dining room, Sauna, Library, Auditorium, Passenger Lounge, Volleyball Court, Gymnasium, 1 swimming pool (indoor, heated), Infirmary, 1 elevator, 1 helipad (Helideck) with a Mi-2 transport helicopter.

  • DWT Deadweight tonnage: 9000 tons
  • Displacement tonnage: 33540 tons
  • Clear path width: 50 m (164 ft)
  • Draught: 8,6 m (28 ft min) 10,5 m (35 ft max)
  • Height: 52 m (171 ft)
  • Icebreaking capacity: 2,8 m (9 ft)
  • Ice-class 9 (highest)
  • Lifespan: 40 years (designated service life)
  • Range: unlimited
  • Endurance: 6 months (provisions), 7 years (Uranium fuel)
  • Power: 2x RITM-200 nuclear reactors (175 MW power output each)
  • Propulsion: 3 shafts (combined power output 110 MW)

Note: In the case of poor AIS coverage, tracking the vessel's current location is impossible. You can see the CruiseMapper's list of all icebreakers and ice-breaking research ships in the "itinerary" section of our Icebreakers hub. All states and their fleets are listed there.

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The vessel's construction officially started with the keel-laying ceremony on July 25, 2016, held at Baltic Shipyard in St Petersburg Russia. The ship was launched (floated out from drydock) on May 25, 2019, and scheduled for inauguration in 2021-Q1. The launch ceremony's Godmother was Elvira Sakhipzadovna Nabiullina (1963-born Russian economist). In 2013 she was appointed President of the Central Bank of Russia. In 2014, Forbes (renown US business magazine) ranked her as the world's 72nd most powerful woman.


In August 2019 was signed the shipbuilding contract for two more "Project 22220" units (Yakutia and Chukotka/ to 5x icebreakers total). Based on the contract, the shipbuilding cost per unit is RUB 50 billion (~USD 720 million / ~EUR 640 million).

Due to technical issues (problems with the steam turbines's delivery), the 3d "Project 22220" icebreaker Ural is currently planned for inauguration in 2022. On May 26, 2020, the shipbuilder announced that the ship's construction is at around 50%.

The icebreaker is named after Ural Mountains (Уральские горы). The Urals mountain range runs (north to south) from the Arctic Ocean to Ural River and Kazakhstan. It forms part of the conventional border between Europe and Asia. Further to the north, the Urals continue (via Vaygach Island and Novaya Zemlya Archipelago) into the Arctic Ocean.

The Ural ship has two nuclear reactors (RITM-200 steam generator/power plant), each with thermal capacity 175 MW (350 MV combined power output).

As Project 22220 vessels are able to navigate both deep (sea) and shallow waters (river estuaries), ROSATOM received two types of ice-breaking ships for the price of one, which means saving of hundreds of millions of USD. NS Ural and its sisterships are of utmost importance for Russia's strategy to open the Northern Sea Route (NSR) for commercial and military operations the whole year-round. By 2024, the NSR is planned to serve vessels carrying 80+ million tonnes of shipments. The Russian Government gave ROSATOM the lead in route's 6-year infrastructure development project, the total funding for which is RUB 734,9 billion (USD 11,37 billion / EUR 10,17). Of those, RUB 274 billion were provided by the Government, while the remaining RUB 460+ billion were provided by investors, the largest among which are ROSATOM, ROSNEFT and NOVATEK.

NS Ural icebreaker (nuclear ship)

ROSATOM (2007-founded) is a state-owned nuclear energy corporation headquartered in Moscow. It comprises over 360 companies and organizations, specializing in scientific research and nuclear weapons, as well as world's only fleet of nuclear icebreakers. In 2017, ROSATOM produced 202,868 billion kWh of electricity annually or 18,9% of Russia's total electricity. Corporation's construction projects include 33 nuclear powerplant units installed and maintained in 12 countries. It also manufactures related equipment, produces isotopes for nuclear medicine, conducts researches and studies, produces supercomputers and software, develops renewable energy technologies (including wind turbines). ROSATOM covers 17,7% of world's nuclear fuel market and ~35% market share of the global Uranium enrichment services.

ROSNEFT (1993-founded) is a state-controlled gas and oil corporation headquartered in Moscow. The company specializes in research, extraction, production, refinement and transportation of natural gas and petroleum. ROSNEFT is ranked Russia's 3rd largest company and country's 2nd-largest state-controlled (after Gazprom) and world's 24th largest oil company in terms of revenue (FY2017 - USD 103 billion / EUR 92,09 billion).

NOVATEK (1994-founded) is Russia's 2nd-largest natural gas producer and world's 7th-largest stock-listed company by annual natural gas production volume. The company is listed and traded on London (LSE) and Moscow (MCX) stock exchanges. Major shareholders are Leonid Michelson (CEO, ~28%), Volga Group (23%), Total SA (French multinational, ~16%) and Gazprom (9,4%).

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