First Russian Aframax Tanker Launched at Zvezda Shipyard

Russia's first Aframax tanker - courtesy of Rosneft

Published May 13, 2020 1:19 PM by The Maritime Executive

Russia’s first Aframax tanker, the Vladimir Monomakh, was launched at the Zvezda Shipyard, an industrial complex located some 80 miles outside of Vladivostok in the Russian Far East. The launch, which was the first at the shipyard complex, marked the next step in the efforts to redevelop the Zvezda site, which was a naval shipyard during the Soviet era.  

The first of a new class of tankers, the 114,000-dwt tanker was ordered by Rosneft. A total of 12 tankers are to be built at the shipyard. These tankers are designed to transport oil in unrestricted navigation operating both on traditional fuel or liquefied natural gas (LNG), to meet the new environmental standards.  

Each of the tankers will be outfitted with an advanced automation system and will carry ice class ICE-1A, which is especially important for operations in the Arctic region. They will have an overall length of approximately 820 feet (250 m), a breadth of 144 feet (44 m), and operate at a speed of 14.6 knots. 

The news of the launch comes at a time when the world’s oil and tanker markets are in turmoil. The price of crude oil and shipping rates collapsed in April as a price war broke out between Saudi Arabia and Russia as global demand weakened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are reports of a slowdown at refineries resulting in both congestion in the world’s ports and an increasing number of idled tankers being used to store oil. Hire rates for large tankers declined dramatically worldwide.

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The development of the yards at Zvezda and the tanker construction project, however, continues to be a high priority for Russia with the support of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. The first agreement for the design, construction, technical supervision, operation, and training of the crews of 10 Aframax class tankers was signed in September 2017 in the presence of President Putin. He returned to the shipyard a year later for the keel laying of the first Aframax class tanker.

The launch of the first Aframax tanker was a unique operation including the use of the Vympel floating transfer dock, one of the largest in Russia. Preparation for the launch took almost a day, with the tanker being rolled by a vessel trolley-transporter from the open outfitting slip to the floating dock, before being launched into the water.

Three additional tankers are under construction in the outfitting berth with the steel cutting on the fifth tanker have begun in February 2020. All of the vessels are being built for Rosnefteflot. The Rosneft Oil Company is also leading a consortium of investors developing the Zvezda Shipbuilding Complex.

The shipyard is being developed in two stages, with the production areas, outfitting slip, ship transportation system, cranes, and floating transfer dock currently operating. The yard is employing approximately 3,500 people with that number expected to double to over 7,000 when the development of the yard is completed. 

Commissioning of the second stage will according to Rosneft expand the shipyard’s capabilities and allow Zvezda to build vessels and marine equipment without any limitations. The second stage will include a dry dock and additional production shops for the construction of large-capacity vessels and marine equipment.  The shipyard development is scheduled for completion in 2024.