Rolls-Royce, the global power systems company, has won a contract to supply a high-strength controllable pitch propeller for a new ice-breaking cargo ship which will transport highly valuable nickel and copper concentrates from Canada, through the Arctic ice, to customers in Europe.
Canadian company Fednav Limited, one of the world’s largest operators of high ice-class vessels, has recently agreed a long term transportation contract with mining company Canadian Royalties Inc. for the shipping of concentrates from the Nunavik Nickel mine in northern Quebec.
The new ship, an ice-breaking bulk carrier with a deadweight of 25,000 tonnes, will be designed and built in Japan by Universal Shipbuilding Corporation. It will meet stringent design and operational requirements including a reinforced hull to allow it to proceed in continuous mode through level ice up to 1.5 metres thick.
Rolls-Royce is a world leader in the design and manufacture of ice-classed propellers, and will supply a 6.5 metre diameter nickel aluminium bronze Kamewa propeller for Fednav’s new vessel. It will weigh 45 tonnes and be powered by a 21.7MW, (or 29,000 horsepower) diesel engine.
The propeller will be mounted inside a steel nozzle, to give protection from floating blocks of ice while increasing thrust as the ship pushes its way through the ice. When travelling through open water, the ship uses a third of its power to travel at 13 knots, but when breaking through thick ice, it needs all available power to maintain a speed of three knots.
Neil Gilliver, Rolls-Royce, President – Merchant said: “We are delighted that Fednav has again selected our high-strength propeller for operating through what must be one of the toughest shipping routes in the world. Our ice-class technology is enabling our customers to operate all year round in the transportation of valuable cargoes to their global markets.
"Fednav has a proven track record in this specialised type of operation and we look forward to working together during the construction and entry into service of this unique and very powerful ship."
Fednav already operates the world’s most powerful ice-breaking bulk carrier Umiak I, which regularly has to contend with the most rugged Arctic conditions including hard packed shear ice and icebergs. Like the new ship, the Umiak I is fitted with a Rolls-Royce controllable pitch propeller that enables the captain to quickly change direction which is essential when ramming the ice is required.
Controllable pitch propellers differ from fixed pitch designs by enabling a ship to change speed or direction without having to reverse the rotational direction or speed of the propeller and engine, giving enhanced manoeuvrability while improving fuel efficiency.