Breaking the Ice
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Kane Weller
Operating within such a niche area of industry can often present challenges across competition and differentiation but the icebreaker and shipbuilding specialist, Arctech Helsinki’s reputation and pedigree has ensured that it remains the frontrunner in a sector currently booming.
Initiating as a joint venture between STX Finland Oy and United Shipbuilding Corporation, the concept surrounded establishing a Company that could respond to the crowning demand for icebreaking capacity in the Arctic region; a narrow business segment decided upon as a consequence of Helsinki shipyard’s century of tradition in the icebreaker business previously.
“Overall, ships have been built in the same location for more than 150 years,” Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Esko Mustamäki elaborates. “During the past five years Arctech has delivered four icebreaking vessels and six vessels are in the Company’s order book.
“Arctech has a mission to develop and deliver the best solutions for Arctic ship operations and the vision is to be the leading brand in Arctic shipbuilding.”
For the past two of those five years, Arctech has been 100 percent owned by Russian United Building Corporation, the largest shipbuilding Company in Russia; emphasising not only the potential that Arctech has shown in the years leading up to the acquisition, but the potential and scope that the Company now has moving forward.
Mustamäki continues: “Arctech is the only foreign Company in the Corporation and is able to offer full service from concept development to design and construction and commissioning of the vessel.
“Arctech is a forerunner in the development and application of technical innovations.”
Highest quality and design
Supporting Mustamäki’s claim is a host of industry firsts existing within the Artech portfolio, having launched a series of prototype vessels, and subsequently encouraging its personnel to solve different – and new – challenges using innovative methods backed up by years of experience.
“Senior designers work together with junior experts to achieve the best solutions,” Mustamäki explains. “The shipyard has its own design unit of 100 designers that develop products and services, which are technically advanced and match each customer’s business needs.
“Customer-specific ship concepts are developed upon our well-proven design platforms, which enable modular ship design and modifications according to the customer’s needs with short lead-times. Arctech has its own ship concepts that are developed further by these needs.”
In total, Arctech Helsinki employs approximately 580 of its own shipbuilders to complement an already extensive network of subcontractors within the maritime and offshore clusters; all of which have culminated in the assignment and delivery of numerous icebreaking projects around the world since 2011.
The 2012-2013 delivery of NB 506 Vitus Bering and NB 507 Aleksey Chirikov represented two state-of-the-art icebreaking vessels that have subsequently been deployed in the harsh and icy conditions of the Sakhalin region protecting gas production platforms.
“These vessels represent the highest quality and design of icebreaking offshore vessels. Vessels can break ice up to 1.7 metres and operate in thick drifting ice in temperatures as cold as minus 35C˚,” Mustamäki says.
The subsequent delivery of NB 508 Baltika in 2014 – a vessel featuring a world-first patented oblique design with asymmetric hull and three azimuthing thrusters – and the NB 509 Murmansk a year later which will be utilised during the summer season in Arctic seas have further showcased the Company’s strengths.
“At the moment, Arctech is building the first ever LNG-powered icebreaker Polaris (NB 510), one icebreaking supply vessel and three icebreaking stand-by-vessels (NB 511-514) for Sovcomflot,” the CEO adds in regards to 2016’s ventures. “Arctech Helsinki Shipyard has also signed a contract to build an Arctic tanker for Dynagas Ltd.
“The vessel will operate from the Yamal Peninsula to Europe and Asia and the total value of the order is around €150 million. The vessel is designed by Arctech and measures 220 metres in length and 32.5 metres in breadth; and will be able to independently operate under the demanding ice conditions of the Northern Sea route.”
The Arctic tanker will be delivered in spring, 2018 as an epitome of the longevity and sustainability that Arctech has already managed to instil in its project offering.
A similar ethos of keeping ahead of the industry curve is also seen within the Company’s internal facets, driven by continuous collaboration and a commitment to nurturing the next generation of sector progression.
“Arctech has close cooperation with universities and polytechnics and provides possibilities for thesis works and internships,” Mustamäki notes. “Arctech also has ongoing recruitments for a wide range of positions for shipbuilding professionals.”
Keeping on top of all safety regulations, environmental impacts and the sustainability of its products and services further safeguards the future credentials of the business, closely following the development of all Arctic areas and winter seafaring the world over.
“Arctech has a stable network within the maritime and offshore clusters in Finland, the Baltic Sea area and Russia, which enables effective cooperation and reliable production schedules,” Mustamäki offers as a key differentiator for a Company that can now look forward to an even more successful five years of growth looking forward.
He concludes: “Arctech specialises in niche business sectors such as Arctic shipbuilding technology and the building of icebreakers, Arctic offshore and other special vessels. Even though the name of the shipyard has changed many times, the shipyard has a strong record of building more than 500 ships during its history, and Arctech remains a frontrunner in the field, knowing all the secrets of how to break ice.
“The need for new building projects for the Arctic areas seems to increase continuously and it is expected that more icebreaking ships will be ordered in the near future.”