Ukrainian Icebreaker Ready for Winter Use
The only icebreaker in Ukraine, "Captain Bilousov," is ready for winter navigation. Soon, this vessel will lead caravans of ships through the Sea of Azov to the Kerch Strait. This icebreaker can crush solid ice up to 80cm in thickness
“Captain Bilousov” is an 80 meter long, 9meter tall icebreaker weighting almost 5,500 tons. The vessel was in the dock of the shipyard for three months. It is already sixty-five years old and needs annual repairs. Shipwrights strive to keep the icebreaker afloat as long as possible.
“Every year we must prepare the ship for winter navigation so that there are no failures. The ship is quite old, but every year we make it feel young again,” Oleh Turskyi, Director-General of the Azov Shipyard, said.
This vessel breaks even the biggest sea ice ridges. The power of its engines is 10,000 horsepower.
“Six main generators power the front oarage. Two are in the prow section and two are in the stern,” Oleksandr Smirnov,” a senior electrical officer of the “Captain Bilousov” icebreaker, said.
Icebreakers of this class were built for enclosed seas such as the Sea of Azov and the Baltic sea. “Captain Bilousov” is the only vessel in Ukraine of this class.
When the navigable canal becomes clogged with ice and becomes impassable, Captain Bilousov clears the waterway for other ships.
“You organize a caravan, you say which ship is following whom. You look at vessels and their engine power. That tells you how to organize them. A powerful vessel follows the icebreaker, then comes less powerful, after which comes another vessel with powerful engines. That is done because the ice is pushing back and in order for the caravan to move at a constant speed, you need to organize a caravan in such a way and monitor the distance,” Vasyl Chaikovsky, captain of the icebreaker, said.
The independent attempts of the ships from the ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol to navigate the route during winter navigation most often ended with rescue operations.
“There were attempts to navigate without the help of an icebreaker, they ended with trouble. Those vessels, being locked in the ice for several days, used up all food, water and fuel, and “Captain Bilousov” had to help those ships in the past years when there was a lot of ice. It would deliver both fuel and water and evacuate those who were sick. That’s the mission,” Mykola Severyn, Director of Maritime Safety of the Ukrainian Sea Port Administration, said.
The icebreaker “Captain Bilousov” will take up its post again on December 1st. It will ensure the passage of ship caravans through the Sea of Azov.