ABB technology driving the world’s largest icebreaking Azipod® fleet

SCF Group, a leader in energy shipping, operates the world’s largest ice-class fleet powered by the pioneering icebreaking Azipod® propulsion.

With its unrivaled performance in the harshest of ice conditions, Azipod® propulsion enables SCF’s vessels serving some of Russia’s most significant export developments in a generation – including Yamal LNG – to cut through ice of up to 2.1 m thick. In similar conditions and without ABB’s leading technology, comparable ships would require icebreaker assistance.

Today, SCF operates the world’s largest fleet of ice class vessels, with ships crossing the Barents, Pechora, Kara and Okhotsk Seas. Among them are 16 ships equipped with 33 Azipod® thrusters, making SCF the largest single customer for the icebreaking Azipod® units in the world. These ships are in good company: worldwide, Azipod® propulsion powers over 80 ice-going vessels.

From its introduction in 1990, Azipod® has been the driving force behind industry-wide growth in electric propulsion. Azipod® propulsion is a gearless system where the electric propulsion motor is located in a pod out-side the ship hull. This not only liberates naval architects to develop hydrodynamically-optimized hull forms, but frees revenue-earning space on board. However, SCF singles out Azipod® propulsion’s maneuvering and ice-breaking attributes for special mention.

“The Azipod® technology has been essential for what SCF has been able to achieve so far in the Arctic,” said Igor Tonkovidov, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating / Chief Technical Officer, SCF Group. “In ice conditions of the high-latitude seas, the maneuverability enabled by the 360-degree pod rotation is often critical.”

Tonkovidov adds that Azipod® propulsion was also key for the Double-Acting Ship (DASTM) concept SCF has adopted for on nine super strength ARC6 and ARC7 icebreaking crude oil and LNG tankers. With the DASTM concept, ice-going vessels equipped with Azipod® propulsion systems run astern in ice, while the propellers wash away the underwater part of the ridge with a powerful stream of water and mill the ice at the same time, cutting a passage through it. The water flow generated by the propel-ler flushes the hull, making it easier for the ship to move through the ridge field.

“With Azipod® propulsion, our vessels can sail through ice while moving astern at 3 knots without ice-breaker support – something no other propulsion system can offer,” said Tonkovidov. 

Last year, the physical evidence emerged that the relationship between SCF and ABB had moved to a new level, with the delivery of 300-meter length, ARC7 ice-class Christophe de Margerie, the world’s first icebreaking LNG carrier, ordered by Sovcomflot to transport gas for Yamal LNG. Notable for many attributes, this vessel and her 14 sister ships that will follow feature the most powerful Azipod® thruster units for ice-going conditions ever produced by ABB (3x15MW).  

This year marks 30 years since Sovcomflot (SCF) was established as one of the first joint-stock commercial enterprises in modern Russia, in 1988 – the same year that ASEA and Brown Boveri merged to form the ABB group we know today.

“Just as we are part of SCF’s success story, so SCF is part of ABB’s quest for a maritime industry that is ‘Electric. Digital. Connected’,” says Juha Koskela, Managing Director, ABB Marine & Ports. “At ABB, our position is that electric propulsion provides the natural platform for the digitalization, connectivity and integration trans-forming the industry, as our customers realize how big data can enable better decision-making, improve vessel performance and enhance energy efficiency.”


Media enquiries:

Margarita Sjursen

Global Communications Manager
ABB Marine & Ports
Bergerveien 12
1396 Billingstad


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