A South Korean-built hull of an ice-breaking LNG carrier has arrived under tow from Samsung Heavy Industries at Russia's Zvezda Shipbuilding Complex, where it will be the first in a series of Arc7 vessels completed at the yard.

The 172,000-cbm vessel, which is being built for Novatek's Arctic LNG 2 project, was towed in during October in preparation for the start of works to complete the vessel.

The ship's membrane type cargo tanks will be fitted out from early in 2022 and a specialised ice-breaking bow added to the hull.

The ship is owned by Russia's Sovcomflot (SCF Group) and is due to be delivered by the end of February 2023.

This is the first Arc7 LNG carrier in a series of 15 that will be built under SHI's agreement with Zvezda that was concluded in 2020.

It is also the first LNG carrier to be built by the Russian yard, which has not undertaken anything of this level of complexity before.

The 300-metre-long, high ice-class LNG carriers, which will be fitted with three azimuth propulsion units capable of producing almost 50 MW of power, are seen as a big test for Zvezda as it expands its capabilities and undertakes the construction of ships for domestic projects.

In November last year, SHI said in a regulatory filing that it is being paid around $2.5bn to supply blocks and equipment for the 15 vessels without detailing its client. The yard’s contract on this work runs until December 2025.

The remaining 14 vessels in the series have been contracted by Smart LNG, a joint venture between Sovcomflot and Novatek.

It is unclear how many of the hulls will be built at SHI as sources have said that under the agreement there is an expectation that the later delivering vessels will be transitioned over to Zvezda so that it can build the blocks in Russia.

Representatives from SHI are said to be working alongside Zvezda yard staff on the vessels.

This latest breed of ice-breaking LNG carrier is designed to spend more time in ice and geared for year-round operations.

The start of their deliveries coincides with Russia's plans to open up the year-round navigation of the Northern Sea Route.