Unlike the United States, Russia is making an focused effort to ensure their natural resources are being shipped aboard Russian-flagged and Russian-crewed ships.
In 2014, 10 Sovcomflot Group ships were registered by the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RS), including the very latest Atlanticmax LNG carriers, multi-purpose ice-breaking supply vessels, crude oil tankers, chemical carriers and tugs. These ships are all targeted to support Russia’s growing efforts to export LNG and condensate from the icy waters surrounding the Yamal Peninsula as well as support operations at the Sakhalin oil and gas fields.
Slated for use at the Yamal peninsula are a 172,600 m3 ARC7 Arctic ice-class LNG carrier and a series of 42,000 ton deadweight ARC7 ice-class shuttle tankers that are currently being constructed at DSME under the supervision of the Russian Maritime Register.
Sovcomflot notes this LNG carrier will have a length of 300 meters, a beam of 50 meters and have the capability to power through a 2.1-meter thick ice field. The ship’s propulsion unit includes three azipods delivering a total power of 45 MW, which is comparable to a Rossija-class nuclear-powered icebreaker (55 MW).
Arctech Helsinki Shipyard, which at the end of December 2014 was fully acquired by Russia‘s United Shipbuilding Corporation, is currently constructing a series of state-of-the-art ice-breaking supply vessels to work on the north-east of Sakhalin Island. Sovcomflot notes these ships will be an upgraded version of the Vitus Bering-series of ice-breaking supply vessels, which are also part of the SCF Group’s fleet, and which will operate at the Arkutun-Dagi offshore oil field.
Within the United States, there is a movement on Capitol Hill to support a similar domestic shipbuilding program, led largely by Congressman John Garamendi, however the support to expedite LNG export projects has overshadowed a parallel opportunity to support the U.S. maritime and shipbuilding industries.