Saft batteries break the ice in Russia for over 30 years

Batteries provide critical engine starting and backup power for Azov Sea icebreakers

@ice Breaker Saft Rosmorport

Saft batteries are providing critical engine starting and backup power for icebreakers that protect year-round navigation for Russia’s ports in the Azov Sea. Port operator Federal State Unitary Enterprise Rosmorport has turned to Saft to supply replacement batteries for eight ice breaking vessels after the original batteries supplied by Saft delivered more than 30 years of service.

The new Saft nickel technology batteries include 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 systems. They are the new-generation battery types that have replaced the original H and M Nife batteries installed between 1983 and 1986 for Finnish shipbuilder Wärtsilä on behalf of the Soviet Union.

Reliable power is essential to help icebreakers protect year-round navigation to Azov, Rostov-on-Don and Taganrog. These ports are important gateways between industrial regions in Russia, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Rosmorport’s 35 icebreakers cut routes through the ice and escort caravans of vessels over distances of up to 210 nautical miles between November and April. The enterprise icebreaker fleet is the largest in the world, performing 10 000 ice escorts each year.

As the lead vessels in the caravans, performance of safety equipment such as backup batteries on board icebreakers is vital. Wind chill means that the temperatures drop below -30˚C and ice thicknesses can reach 40 to 80 cm due to the shallowness and low salinity of the Azov Sea.

Therefore, the batteries must withstand extremely low temperatures, as well as the shock and vibration of icebreaking and storm conditions.

The long life achieved by the original Saft nickel batteries was mainly due to their tough industrial construction but also to the professionalism of the icebreaker crews, who followed the battery operating schedules and standards to the letter.

One challenge overcome during installation was due to limited space available on board the icebreakers. While the duty of the new nickel batteries is a close match with the originals, the size and shape of the new units differs slightly. To ensure smooth and straightforward installation, experts from Saft’s Moscow office worked closely with the technicians on the icebreakers at an early stage to identify new locations for batteries.

Sergey Varnavskiy, Saft’s key account manager based in Moscow said: “The batteries on board the Azov Sea icebreakers are an excellent example of how Saft’s nickel batteries technology stand the test of time in the toughest industrial environments and make a meaningful contribution to strategically important operations.”

Saft manufactures SPH batteries in Bordeaux, France and SBM batteries in Oskarshamn, Sweden.


About Saft 

Saft specializes in advanced technology battery solutions for industry, from the design and development to the production, customization and service provision. For 100 years, Saft’s longer-lasting batteries and systems have provided critical safety applications, back-up power and propulsion for our customers. Our innovative, safe and reliable technology delivers high performance on land, at sea, in the air and in space. Saft is powering industry and smarter cities, while providing critical back-up functionality in remote and harsh environments from the Arctic Circle to the Sahara Desert. Saft is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Total, a leading international oil and gas company and a major player in low-carbon energies.

We energize the world.

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