Design and Engineering for a Canadian Polar Icebreaker

Elomatic is reaching the next phase in the design of a Canadian Polar Icebreaker ship which is set to be built by 2030.  The Canadian Polar Icebreaker project was originally initiated in 2012 by the Canadian Government as a replacement for the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent, Canada’s current largest icebreaker. However, it was put on hold for almost 10 years before being reignited in early 2021.

The overall aim of the project is to construct a larger and more powerful icebreaker than the ones currently in operation in Canada and achieve this through a modern and effective design that can adapt to future requirements, fulfil its intricate mission profile, and enable extended operations at higher latitudes and in demanding Arctic conditions.

The Journey so Far

The initial basic design phase started in 2021, as a collaboration between Elomatic, Aker Arctic, and Seaspan Vancouver Shipyards (VSY) to review and upgrade the vessel concept, aiming at investigating possible improvements in the design and to ensure that the vessel incorporates the latest technology. During the past year Vard Marine, Canal Marine & Industrial Inc., Barrier Marine Services, and Genoa Design International were also involved in the project.

Following the successful completion of the basic design phase of the project, Elomatic has continued close collaboration with VSY into the next engineering phases: the Functional design phase which is ongoing and scheduled for completion by mid-2024.

The production design phase is planned to start early 2024 followed by the build phase, which will start around 2025, and it will continue until 2030 when the vessel is planned to be delivered to the Canadian Coast Guard.

Design Phase: Major Changes

Major changes were implemented after the basic design optimization phase in 2022. These changes included modifying the propulsion and helideck of the icebreaker to meet current requirements. The steel hull of the new Canadian Polar Icebreaker was optimized using nonlinear analysis tools, resulting in a lighter ship with advantages such as reduced steel weight, lower construction costs, and an efficient steel structure.

Three different propulsion options were assessed, and extensive model tests in both ice and open water were conducted to confirm the vessel’s performance and manoeuvrability.  

Key Challenges

The harsh Arctic ice conditions put a lot of stress on the icebreaker’s structure. This includes dealing with extreme and unpredictable ice conditions in the Arctic. Additionally, the icebreaker needs to function effectively in the very cold and long-lasting Arctic winters, which adds to the complexity of its systems.

In addition to these challenges, the icebreaker shall be versatile to undertake various missions and conduct environmental research in the Arctic’s unpredictable conditions. Considering the remote nature of the Arctic, refueling options are limited, and the vessel’s fuel capacity shall match extended periods without the need to be refuelled.

The evolving regulatory landscape has posed significant considerations for the project team. Given the timeline leading up to the vessel’s delivery in 2030, the design and engineering teams have taken proactive steps to plan for potential regulatory changes where possible. However, due to the uncertainty of future regulations, a certain degree of adaptability and flexibility has been necessary at the design phase to ensure that the icebreaker remains compliant as it approaches its completion date, and into the future.

Production Design Contract: A milestone for Elomatic’s Expansion in Canada

The successful completion of the basic design phase and the continued co-operation in the Functional Design phase of the icebreaker led to a new PD (Production Design) contract between Elomatic and VSY to ensure a long-term collaboration. At this stage, Elomatic will be engineering the design to meet production requirements to build the vessel. At the same time Elomatic continues supporting the shipyard in improving its shipbuilding processes which has been one key service since the start of the journey with the shipyard.

The Polar program falls under the defence sector project classification, meaning it must fulfil commitments to the Canadian Industrial and Regional Benefits (IRB) obligations. Elomatic is dedicated to meeting these IRB requirements and envisions encouraging prospects for expanding its operations, reinvesting in Canada, to boost and create new sustainable opportunities for Canadians in Canada. The new contract represents a major milestone for Elomatic’s strategic development to continue expanding its business in Canada.

Elomatic’s involvement in the Polar Icebreaker project is extensive, including active participation in the Functional Design phase and thorough preparation for the forthcoming Production Design phase. This demonstrates the company’s engineering, design, and consultancy expertise and Elomatic takes pride in being part of such an important and complex project.

The Polar Icebreaker project serves as a testament to innovation in Arctic ship design and underscores the significance of international collaboration involving Canada, Finland, Germany, and Poland. Its ultimate goal is to make a positive impact in Canadian territory by enabling the Canadian Coast Guard to operate in higher latitudes for extended periods allowing better support for northern Canada, while advancing high Arctic science and providing a faster response to maritime emergencies.

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Elomatic´s close collaboration together with Seaspan Vancouver Shipyards continues in Canada

Elomatic Consulting Inc continues its journey together with Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards (VSY). Elomatic will continue engineering the new Polar icebreaker to serve the Canadian Coast Guard and we will be responsible for a major part of the vessel’s functional design. The construction engineering phase is scheduled for completion by the end of 2025.