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From the Aker Yard website -

Aker Yards strengthens its position as the preferred arctic shipbuilder

Aker Yards has signed a contract with the large Russian mining company Norilsk Nickel for delivery of four container/cargo ships for arctic operations, with an option for a fifth newbuilding. This order of Aker Yards' Business Area Merchant Vessels has a total value of approximately EUR 320 million for four vessels and follows Norilsk Nickel's recent deployment of the first vessel of this type, MS Norilskiy Nickel. The newly contracted vessels are scheduled for delivery by Aker Yards' German shipyards from the third quarter of 2008 through the first quarter of 2009.

These highly specialized container/cargo vessels traverse ice-covered seas without icebreaker assistance, due to the double-acting hull form and propulsion system developed and patented by Aker Yards. When crossing waters with heavy ice conditions, the vessel moves stern-first to break its way through ice 1.5 meters thick. When returning to light ice conditions or open waters, the vessel turns 180 degrees and sails traditionally, bow-first. The Norilsk Nickel vessels are powered by a podded, azimuthal propulsion system.

The fleet solution provided by Aker Yards' double-acting vessels significantly improves Norilsk Nickel's operational efficiency. The vessels can navigate Arctic Ocean routes unassisted year-round; the company's current cargo fleet requires the deployment of icebreakers in winter. The vessels contracted by Norilsk Nickel transport metallurgical products from Dudinka, on the Yenisey river, to Murmansk.

The vessels in the newbuilding series ordered by Norilsk Nickel are 169 meters long and 23.1 meters wide. With a draught of nine meters for winter deployment under heavy ice conditions, their deadweight tonnage is 14,500 (summer: 10 m draught; 18,000 t). Container stowage capacity is some 650 TEU; containers with non-standard dimensions and other cargo can also be transported.

Aker Yards' shipyards group in Finland delivered MS Norilskiy Nickel to Open Joint Stock Company (OJSC) MMC Norilsk Nickel on 11 April 2006. MS Norilskiy Nickel was a prototype built as a cooperative project among the Aker Yards Group's shipyards in Helsinki and Warnemünde. Helsinki-based Aker Arctic, a world-leading ice technology laboratory and vessel developer, established optimal design, performance, cost, and technological solutions for the vessel through several feasibility studies and ice model tests.

MS Norilskiy Nickel has successfully demonstrated its performance and logistics efficiency on the Dudinka - Murmansk route since it went into service in April 2006. The decision to order four additional (plus one option) double-acting vessel newbuildings also follows up on the successful ice trials of the Norilskiy Nickel in the Kara Sea area in March 2006. The vessel exceeded all contractual performance requirements. It showed excellent sea-handling and moved efficiently through ice ridges with depth of more than ship's own draught as well as the flat, 1.5-meter-thick ice specified in the vessel's newbuilding contract.

Jürgen Kenneman, President of Aker Yards' Merchant Vessels business area, comments: "This contract represents an important step in repositioning Merchant Vessels to deliver more specialized and innovative vessels. The Norilsk Nickel deliveries capitalize on Aker Yards' unique technologies and experience in designing and building cost-effective ships that operate under harsh arctic conditions."

Vessel description
Vessel type: container/cargo ship for arctic operation
Contract value: approx. EUR 320 million for four vessels
Yard: Aker Yards, Germany
Delivery time: 3rd and 4th quarters of 2008, 1st quarter 2009
Length and beam: 169 m long and 23.1 m wide
Deadweight: 14,500 / 18,000 tonnes
Container capacity: approx. 650 TEU, with 21 reefer sockets
Engine and performance: diesel electric (3 x 6,650 kW generator sets)
Speed: 15.5 knots in calm water (with 9,000 kW shaft power)
Design: Aker Yards' double-acting container/cargo ship for arctic operation

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