Azipod-Equipped Norwegian Coast Guard Vessel Reaches North Pole

The KV Svalbard reaches the North Pole, August 21, 2019. Photo courtesy Norwegian Coast Guard

The Norwegian Coast Guard vessel KV Svalbard Nordpolen has become the first Norwegian ship to reach the North Pole.

Built in 2001, the KV Svalbard is a relatively small icebreaker equipped with ABB’s Azipod® propulsion system, making it the first first ever Azipod-powered ship to reach the North Pole.

According to the Norwegian Coast Guard, the vessel reached 90 degrees north at 09.32 LT on Wednesday, August 21, as part of scientific expedition called Coordinated Arctic Acoustic Thermometry Experiment (CAATEX).  

The 1,400 nautical mile voyage to the North Pole came just seven days after the ship’s departure of Longyearbyen. At times the vessel travelled through polar ice packs at speeds of up to 6 to 7 knots.

ABB’s Azipod system is an electric propulsion system that uses electric drive motors located beneath the hull in a submerged pod, which can rotate 360 degrees to deliver thrust in any direction, making Azipod-equipped vessels highly maneuverable. ABB says its Azipods are capable of breaking ice up to 2.1 m thick and have proven to reduce fuel consumption by up to 20 percent as compared to traditional shaftline marine propulsion systems.

“We were able to navigate through the Arctic waters and reach the North Pole faster than we thought possible,” said Ottar Haugen, Commander of the Norwegian Coast Guard. “This is a significant milestone for us and a proof that we have a vessel in our fleet equipped with a robust propulsion system that enables operations in the harshest ice conditions – all the way to the North Pole.”

Since their introduction in 1990, ABB has delivered Azipod electric propulsion systems to over 90 icebreakers and ice-going vessels.