Wärtsilä Engines to Power First Dual-Fuel Icebreaker

 The new icebreaker built by Arctech Helsinki Shipyard for the Finnish Transport Agency and powered by Wärtsilä dual-fuel engines will be the most environmentally friendly icebreaker ever built. Illustration courtesy Wärtsilä
The new icebreaker built by Arctech Helsinki Shipyard for the Finnish Transport Agency and powered by Wärtsilä dual-fuel engines will be the most environmentally friendly icebreaker ever built. Illustration courtesy Wärtsilä

The world’s first LNG-powered icebreaker will be powered by Wärtsilä dual-fuel engines, the Finnish engine manufacturer announced Tuesday.

The icebreaker, which will run on both liquefied natural gas (LNG) and low sulphur diesel fuel, is being built by Arctech Helsinki Shipyard for the Finnish Transport Agency and is expected to be launched in late 2015.

“The new icebreaker features the highest technology and will be built especially to operate in the demanding winter conditions of the northernmost Baltic Sea. By being able to use LNG fuel, the vessel will be the most environmentally friendly icebreaker ever built,” says Esko Mustamäki, Managing Director of Arctech Helsinki Shipyard.

The full scope of supply calls for one 8-cylinder Wärtsilä 20DF, two 9-cylinder Wärtsilä 34DF, and two 12-cylinder Wärtsilä 34DF engines. The contract was signed in March 2014, and delivery of the equipment to the yard will be made in spring 2015.

Wärtsilä says its industry leading track record in dual-fuel engine technology was a crucial factor in the award of the contract, along with the impressive power output per cylinder of the Wärtsilä engines.

“We are the industry leaders in gas fuelled vessel equipment, and are proud to supply the world’s first LNG powered icebreaker with engines powerful enough to meet the customer’s requirements,” says Aaron Bresnahan, Vice President, Sales, Wärtsilä Ship Power. “The combination of ice breaking power and environmental sustainability is difficult to achieve, but our dual-fuel engine technology has the capabilities needed.”

The vessel will be able to continuously cut through 1.6 meter thick ice, and capable of creating 25 meter wide channel in 1.2 meter thick ice at a speed of 6 knots. It will also be able to reach an average assistance speed of 9 to 11 knots and in open water the service speed will be a minimum of 16 knots.

While the main purpose of the vessel is icebreaking, it will independently be able to perform oil spill response operations and emergency towing under demanding conditions both in winter and summer, Wärtsilä says. The vessel will, therefore, operate all year round to ensure safe seaborne transports in the Baltic Sea.