New Ivan Frolov to be built for the Russian Arctic
© Photo courtesy of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute

New Ivan Frolov to be built for the Russian Arctic

The Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (Rosgidromet) and the Admiralty Shipyard signed a contract for the new research expedition ship Ivan Frolov. The new ship will serve with the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute fleet, and it will be the new flagship of Russian polar science.

“The new research expedition ship Ivan Frolov will allow for the uninterrupted work of Antarctic expeditions. Russia has five Antarctic stations operating year-round, as well as five seasonal bases. The current ship, that carries polar explorers and freight to Antarctica, is becoming obsolete, but there is some time left before commissioning the new ship. The Ivan Frolov will act as a tanker, an icebreaker, a passenger liner, a freighter and a research vessel. The Admiralty Shipyard was chosen because this St. Petersburg based shipbuilding company has a lot of experience. For example, they built the unique North Pole self-propelled platform, now sailing in the high Arctic latitudes.” said Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Alexander Kozlov.

The new ship will primarily be used to support research expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctica. The Ivan Frolov is to replace the Akademik Fyodorov, built by Finland’s Rauma-Repola, now Rauma Marine Constructions, in 1987.

According to Rosgidromet Head Igor Shumakov, the ship will be designed over the next 12 months. He added that all the projects with Rosgidromet were unique and that no other country exploring Antarctica has any plans for building an Ivan Frolov-class ship.

“Scientists see Antarctica as extremely important, especially now that everyone is talking about climate change, and we need to adapt to these changes. To adapt, we need to understand how the climate might change. Antarctic research projects help us gain insight into previous climate change cycles and to predict future developments,” Shumakov noted.

Shumakov also added that this will be the best ship in its class. This project will create up to 30,000 jobs, and many Russian-made components will be used in construction.

“The new Russian research flagship has an exciting future. The ship will remain in service for 30 to 40 years, until the 2070s. So, it will be part of great events related to Russian projects and victories in the Arctic. This ship will make it possible to plan research projects for many decades. It will provide new possibilities for young scientists to devote their lives to polar science; they will be able to realize their talent and potential on this ship. The poles are waiting for a new generation of researchers to replace us,” Director of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute Alexander Makarov noted.

The Ivan Frolov will become the fourth ship in the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute’s fleet and will facilitate high-seas research projects. It will also rotate personnel and resupply Arctic and Antarctic stations.

The Ivan Frolov will conform to the Arc7 class in the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping and will be built to the following specifications: length: almost 165 meters; displacement: about 25,000 metric tons; deadweight: about 9,200 metric tons.

The research expedition ship will comfortably accommodate 240 people, including 70 crew members and up to 170 scientists and helicopter pilots. The ship will include up to 20 laboratories allowing research in a variety of areas, including the seabed and the stratosphere. It will also carry two helicopters like the Ka-32, Mil Mi-8 or Mi-38 and include a helipad and a hangar to maintain them. The ship is to be completed in 2028 and will have a service life of at least 30 years.