Russia is expanding dredging fleet for the NSR

Ice class TSHD built by Damen for Rosmorport. Credit: Damen

In March of 2020, Russian federal sea ports agency Rosmorport will expand its fleet with Ice Class trailing suction hopper dredger (TSHD) 2000 Yuri Masluykov – the most advanced dredger built in the country since Soviet times.

This is the third TSHD 2000 ordered by the Rosmorport’s Arkhangelsk division, but the first two dredgers were built on foreign shipyards, Artur Parfenchikov, governor of Karelia Republic, Russia, said during a press conference in late 2019. Russian shipbuilders managed to prove that “they are able to build better and with better quality” than foreign shipyards, Parfenchikov added.

The new vessel will maintain navigational depths and provide safe shipping in the Arkhangelsk Seaport basin and its approaches, plus it will participate in the ongoing building of the Sabetta sea port, Rosmorport said in a statement on its website.

“Building of a new dredger is an important contribution to the development of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) and Arctic region. Yuri Masluykov is designed to operate in the harsh northern climate, so it would secure optimal navigation depth in several Arctic sea ports,” Rosmorport said in the statement.

In total, Rosmorport plans to order four new dredgers by 2030, including one non-self-propelled cutter suction dredger and three self-propelled dredgers, each with a hold volume of 1,000 cubic metres, Vasily Strugov, deputy director of Rosmorport, said. Yuri Masluykov, for comparison, has a hold volume of 2,000 cubic metres.

In addition, Rosmorport expects to expand its fleet with two self-propelled land barges with a hold volume of 600 cubic metres each, and a self-propelled land barge (Rabochaya) with a hold volume of 900 cubic metres, which is going to be the first vessel of this type in Russia without living crew aboard. Almost all new dredging fleet in Russia is being built for the development of the NSR.

Rosmorport is the biggest state-owned dredging company in Russia. The company removed 5.7 million m3 of sea bottom in 2018, 6.2 million in 2017, and 6.3 million in 2016. Russian nuclear corporation Rosatom earlier estimated that the 26 million cubic metres of sea bottom needed to be removed in order to secure the growth in shipping on the NSR to 80 million metric tonnes by 2024.

The existing dredging fleet needs to be expanded to beat that goal and because of the anticipated further rise in traffic on the NSR. The total cost of dredging projects in the Sabetta sea port, an important part of the NSR project, including on the new cargo terminal is estimated at Rub12.3 billion (USD200 million).

The investment cost of the NSR development in the coming five years is expected to be about Rub900 billion, research conducted by the Russian Transport Ministry showed.