Every year, the Sea of Azov becomes wholly or partially frozen for up to five months, calling for a fleet of icebreakers to safely escort and support cargo vessels that export goods from industrial regions across Ukraine and Russia to the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and beyond.
These icebreakers, operated by Russian Federal State Unitary Enterprise Rosmorport, act as the lead vessels in cargo convoys. They must be available throughout the winter, when wind chill causes temperatures to drop below -30°C and ice thickness can reach 40 to 80cm.
As such, the performance of safety equipment on board icebreakers is vital for the safety of crews of icebreakers and cargo vessels, and also to keep trade flowing.
For more than 30 years, Saft batteries provided critical engine starting and backup power on board icebreakers in the region. Now, Rosmoport has turned to Saft for repeat business – this time to supply replacement batteries for eight icebreaking vessels in its fleet. Saft has supplied nickel technology batteries including SPH models to deliver cranking power for diesel engine starting, as well as SBM batteries to provide backup power for communication, navigation and emergency lighting.
One challenge during installation was the limited space onboard the icebreakers. The new nickel batteries differ slightly in shape and size from the originals and could not be installed in the existing battery compartments.
To overcome this, experts from Saft’s Moscow office worked closely with the icebreaker technicians at an early stage to identify new locations for the batteries.
The batteries on board the Azov Sea icebreakers are an excellent example of how our nickel battery technology can stand the test of time in the toughest industrial environments and make a meaningful contribution to strategically important operations.Sergey Varnavskiy Saft’s key account manager based in Moscow
The new batteries replace nickel technology Saft H and M NiFe batteries that were installed between 1983 and 1986 by Finnish shipbuilder Wärtsilä on behalf of the Soviet Union. The long life achieved by these batteries was partly due to their electrochemistry and tough industrial construction. They can withstand extremely low temperatures, as well as the shock and vibration of icebreaking and storm conditions. The professionalism of the icebreaker crews also played an important role in the longevity of the batteries as the operators followed the battery operating schedules and standards to the letter.