Aker Yards has signed a contract with the large Russian mining company Norilsk Nickel for delivery of four container/cargo ships for arctic operations, with an option for a fifth newbuilding. This order of Aker Yards' Business Area Merchant Vessels has a total value of approximately EUR 320 million for four vessels and follows Norilsk Nickel's recent deployment of the first vessel of this type, MS Norilskiy Nickel. The newly contracted vessels are scheduled for delivery by Aker Yards' German shipyards from the third quarter of 2008 through the first quarter of 2009.
These specialized container/cargo vessels traverse ice-covered seas without icebreaker assistance, due to the double-acting hull form and propulsion system developed and patented by Aker Yards. When crossing waters with heavy ice conditions, the vessel moves stern-first to break its way through ice 1.5 meters thick. When returning to light ice conditions or open waters, the vessel turns 180 degrees and sails traditionally, bow-first. The Norilsk Nickel vessels are powered by a podded, azimuthal propulsion system.
The fleet solution provided by Aker Yards' double-acting vessels significantly improves Norilsk Nickel's operational efficiency. The vessels can navigate Arctic Ocean routes
unassisted year-round; the company's current cargo fleet requires the deployment of icebreakers in winter. The vessels contracted by Norilsk Nickel transport metallurgical products from Dudinka, on the Yenisey river, to Murmansk.
The vessels in the newbuilding series ordered by Norilsk Nickel are 169 meters long and 23.1 meters wide. With a draught of nine meters for winter deployment under heavy ice conditions, their deadweight tonnage is 14,500 (summer: 10 m draught; 18,000 t). Container stowage capacity is some