Chile cuts steel for its new 13.000 tons icebreaker

SANTIAGO – Chile’s state-run shipyard ASMAR Astilleros has started the construction of a new icebreaker.

The vessel is scheduled to be completed within four years at a cost of USD217 million, according to the Chilean Ministry of Defense.

The new icebreaker will measure approximately 125 m in length, weigh 13,000 tonnes, and have capacity to ferry a helicopter.

It will be constructed in ASMAR’s Talcahuano facilities in the Biobio region, and will replace icebreaker Almirante Oscar Viel (A P46), which was constructed in 1969 and is scheduled for decommission in 2020.

ASMAR, however, did not respond to questions regarding the new icebreaker’s hull strength or design.

Chilean president Michelle Bachelet last week cut the first sheet of steel for the construction of the country’s new icebreaker which is expected to be operational for the 2022/23 Antarctic season.

The Chilean Navy’s 111-meters icebreaker of 13,000 tons displacement, rated for one meter of ice will carry a complement of 150, including 30 scientists, and will serve throughout the Southern Ocean for purposes of research, SAR, logistics support, resupply for Chile’s bases in Antarctica and comply with the country’s commitment to scientific research under the Antarctic treaty obligations.

VARD, the parent company of North America-based Vard Marine, is a specialist in the design and construction of offshore vessels, including ice-classed vessels for use in high-latitude projects. One of its ships is presently contracted to provide platform support for the Goliat field offshore Norway, the northernmost offshore oil rig in the world.

Chile’s Navy announced its intent to replace its icebreaker Almirante Oscar Viel in 2014. The Oscar Viel was built in 1969 for the Canadian Navy as the Norman McLeod Rogers, and Chile purchased and renamed her in 1994 for Antarctic operations. The new vessel still unnamed is expected to comply with Chile’s Antarctica interests for the next three decades.

“It’s a great day for Chile and a great honor for me to participate in the steel plate cutting ceremony of this new icebreaker since it will place Chile in the vanguard of the protection and projection of the Antarctic continent and its surrounding area”, Bachelet had said, adding it was beautiful “to attend the birth of a new vessel, which makes us Chileans very proud”.

The new vessel, 111 meters long, 21 meters beam and 7.2 meters draft will have the capacity to sail at a constant speed of over 2 knots in one meter thick one year old ice, and will have a maximum cruise speed of 15 knots. Holds can carry 510 cubic meters of cargo, 400 cubic meters in pallets and will have a fuel tank of 400 cubic meters.

Rear Admiral Kurt Hartung, head of the Chilean Navy Services said that the new icebreaker with “all those capacities plus having thirty scientists permanently onboard, our researchers will be in a privileged position, with state of the art equipment, to advance science, particularly in the Antarctic continent”.