The first block for a new class of Russian domestic containership that is also capable of carrying dry bulk cargo was laid down at the Lotos Shipyard, part of the state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation. In addition to the unique design, the shipbuilding corporation is reporting the ships will be a key contributor to Russia’s plans for the North-South International Transport Corridor and proof that Russian shipbuilding is proceeding despite the sanctions.

Construction is beginning on the first of four vessels that will be the lead to the class. The vessels measure approximately 463 feet in length and have a 55-foot beam and depth of up to approximately 20 feet giving them the maximum dimensions to transit the Volga-Don Canal. The 60-mile long waterway opened in the 1950s makes it possible to sail from Saint Petersburg to the Caspian Sea.

The design for the vessels was developed by the design bureau of USC, Vympel Design Bureau in Nizhny Novgorod, and they are saying it is unique because in addition to containers, it can carry any type of dry cargo, including grain, timber, and lumber, general cargo, in two holds. The vessels will also have a large capacity for oversized cargo. The capacity will vary between 5,000 tons for river transport, where it is limited to a draft of approximately 12 feet, and 9,200 tons for sea transport. Propulsion for the vessels will consist of two medium-speed diesel engines each with 1200 kW and two rudder propellers with a speed of up to 10 knots. There will also be two auxiliary diesel generators of 400 kW which will be enough to power 60 refrigerated containers.

According to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Energy of the Astrakhan Region the plan is to build a total of 21 of the vessels for the North-South trade. Officials have said that at least 45 ships of the Volga-Don Max class are needed longer term for the new corridor. Each vessel is expected to cost about $22 million to build.


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