The Russian government has allocated $2 billion to build a goliath high-tech nuclear icebreaker it claims will keep the Arctic ice free for shipping on a year round basis – a major move toward creating a shipping lane through the frozen polar region.
According to economists, this will be the most expensive project in Russian shipbuilding history, but it will also be economically justified and will benefit companies around the world.
The name of the ship will be “Lider” which means Leader, has long existed as sort of engineering myth: Bigger and more streamlined than its boxy icebreaking cousins, it would have the power to chew through ice up to five meters thick at a speed of 10 knots, clearing a 50-meter-wide swathe of navigable sea for ships following in its wake.
The ship will be built at the Zvezda shipyard in the Russian Far East by 2027.
The “Leader’s” main task will be to ensure the transportation of goods throughout the year along the North Sea Route.
The Kremlin has made its construction the centerpiece of its expansive Artic strategy, which aims to open the Northern Sea Route – an ice-bound 6,000-kilometer shipping artery from Europe to Asia that Moscow hopes will rival the Suez Canal. But the ambitious vessel – which more resembles an oligarch’s prize yacht than an icebreaking muscle-ship – has remained something of a mirage until now.
“The ship’s potential will be enormous. The “Leader” may increase the volume of goods transported via the Northern Route to 70 million tonnes per year, which is especially important for the transport of minerals to Asia, “explained a source at the industrial complex who declined to be identified.