The Argentine navy icebreaker “Almirante Irizar” which became an almost total loss in 2007 should be back fully refurbished and operational for the 2012/2013 Antarctic season following an investment of over 100 million US dollars reveals the Buenos Aires press.
The vessel is currently in Tandanor’s shipyard and the basic engineering reconstruction effort is being done by an Argentina-Spanish consortium while all the electronics has been contracted with Finland’s ABB. Norway’s’ shipping risk rating and classification agency DNV has approved the refurbishing plans and has a resident inspector at the Argentine shipyard.
The new “Irizar” will be more focused on scientific research and less on Antarctica duties which in practical terms means the investigation and labs area will be increased from 74 to 415 square metres. New engines and turbines have been purchased from MAN, Germany and will be mounted sometime next October with a special crane.
“The vessel will have a different profile, before it was mainly dedicated to provide logistic support to the (Argentine) Antarctic bases and to a lesser extent, scientific research. Now we are inverting those priorities which demands many changes to the original internal structure”, said Mario Fadel head of Tandanor shipyards.
The original refurbishing blueprints were elaborated by the SKF Finland yard that built the vessel, but in 2009 DNV requested 52 modifications to have the icebreaker comply with international rules. It was then decided to contract Sener a Spanish-Argentine group which was given the green light and in the first stage removed 850 tons of fire-twisted steel the vessel.
One of the main modifications is to mount two German MAN 6.000 KW engines and four power generating turbines totalling 4.000 KW. Since each engine weighs 15 tons and the set of turbines 90 tons, the operation will be done next October when the vessel is out of the dry dock.
The following step is to assemble the blocks being built by the Argentine naval industrial complex next to the Tandanor plus 600 state of the art equipments to be installed that will enable among other things an engine room that will not need physical presence of engineers, an expanded radar surveillance system and a renewed landing platform for two helicopters. A crucial element is an extended highly sensitive fire alarm system to prevent a situation like that which condemned the vessel in 2007 when 70% was destroyed particularly the engine room and power generating plant.
Further more the continuous current system will be changed to alternating that will help increase the vessel’s power by 10%. Electronics and electricity is under responsibility of Finland’s ABB.
As to the vessel’s living quarter’s capacity and the bridge which went mostly undamaged during the fire, they will also be reformed which means the new vessel will have 313 beds instead of 245, and the scientific research area expanded to 415 square metres.
“This is not a simple repair job. Irizar is in itself a huge complex and that is how we assess it here in Tandanor. That is why the political decision to make the refurbish job here is a crucial step in the recovery of the (Argentine) shipbuilding industry”, said Fadel who added the usable horizon for the new Irizar will be thirty years.
Following the almost loss of the “Almirante Irizar” the Argentine government considered purchasing a new icebreaker of similar conditions but there were none in the market and to order a new one was “discouraging” because of the costs.
“It was finally decided as more convenient to have the vessel refurbished and overseas was also an option. However it was considered more useful to have the job done in Argentina’s Tandanor shipyard but under supervision from the original Finnish yard that built the icebreaker in the seventies. But given the risk rating agency DNV objections to SKF blueprints, this option was dropped and Tandanor prevailed”, underlined Fadel.