Russia saw the launch of two nuclear-powered icebreakers to ensure year-round navigation in the Western Arctic. President Vladimir Putin said the icebreakers were of strategic importance for Russia.
The icebreakers were part of a large serial project and part of the country’s large-scale, systematic work to re-equip and replenish the domestic icebreaker fleet. Putin wants to strengthen Russia’s status as a great Arctic power.
He vowed to develop Russia’s nuclear fleet despite current hurdles in the country’s economy and production brought in by Western sanctions over Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.
Russia launched two icebreakers as part of its Project 22220. Six ships will be released in this series. It should be noted that the lead icebreaker of Project Arktika and the first series icebreaker Sibir are already in operation for escorting ships on the Northern Sea route. Chukotka, the fourth series icebreaker, was laid down at Baltic Shipyard in December 2020.
The Yakutia nuclear icebreaker can smash through ice of up to three meters. This vessel is ready to be launched at the facilities of the Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg. The Ural is expected to be operational in December, while the Yakutia will join the fleet in late 2024.
The designers touted the vessels to resist extreme weather conditions in the Far North, up to 173 meters in length and capability to smash through ice up to 2.8 meters thick. President Putin said a super-powerful nuclear 209-metre icebreaker called Rossiya, with a displacement of up to 71,380 tonnes, would be completed by 2027. He said the vessel will be able to break through ice four meters thick.
“They are needed for the study and development of the Arctic, to ensure safe, sustainable navigation in this region, to increase traffic along the Northern Sea route. Putin hopes the development of this most important transport corridor will allow Russia to more fully unlock its export potential and establish efficient logistics route, including to Southeast Asia.”
The icebreakers are expected to be a game-changer for Russia’s use of the Arctic.