In October 2009 the contract came into effect for SENER to carry out the engineering work and provide technical assistance in repairing and modernising the icebreaker Almirante Irizar (RHAI) following the fire it suffered in April 2007. The scope of the contract includes engineering the stripping down of the equipment and damaged structure, the basic and development engineering for all the areas, equipment and systems affected by the repairs / modernisation, and technical support throughout the process, including ocean trials and ice trials.

The ship’s last campaign was between December 2006 and April 2007. On the return journey, when 140 miles to the east of Puerto Madryn, a fire broke out in the electric generator room which spread quickly throughout the ship’s engine room. It was evacuated and, once the fire had been put out, it was towed to the Puerto Belgrano Naval Base. After assessing the various options, the Argentinian Navy chose to go ahead with the vital repairs and modernisation which are now underway.

The work which began in November 2009 is due to end with ice trials in October 2011, and it is believed that, having been completely renovated and made operational, the ship will be ready for its 2012 Antarctic campaign.

The work to repair and modernise the icebreaker will be done in Buenos Aires at the TANDANOR SACYN Shipyard, whose main shareholder is the Argentine state via the Ministry of Defence. The ship is now there. The planned tasks include:

  • Replace around 600 tonnes of steel in the affected areas
  • The propulsion and power generation plants will be replaced by cutting-edge technology
  • The accommodation and work capacity on board for technical and scientific staff will be increased to 313 people
  • The navigation, steering, communication and safety equipment will be replaced by modern equipment fitted with the latest technology

To undertake the engineering and technical support project with guaranteed success, SENER is preparing the resources to create and provide the shipbuilders with the technical information required within the timescale required. Assisting in this is the office of SENER’s Argentinian division in Buenos Aires, very close to the shipyard, while the Madrid and Valencia divisions are also involved.

The work SENER is to carry out covers these areas:

  • Engineering to scrap the parts of the ship that were most severely damaged, following the most stringent safety recommendations
  • Basic and detail engineering on the structure (“steels”), weaponry, electricity and fitting out of the areas, equipment and systems that are being renovated and/or modernised
  • Draw up technical specifications for procuring all the relevant equipment and systems
  • Technical support while the ship is being repaired / modernised, including the ocean trials and ice trials

The work SENER has been awarded demonstrates that TANDANOR is confident that SENER has the competitiveness and competence to cope with complex, large-scale projects in any geographical area.