Rosatomflot prolongs North Pole cruises

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The nuclear powered icebreaker "Sovyetsky Soyuz" operates along the ice-covered waters of the Northern Sea Route. The vessel will probably be ready for service in 2016, according to Atomflot. (Thomas Nilsen / BarentsObserver)
The nuclear powered icebreaker “Sovyetsky Soyuz” operates along the ice-covered waters of the Northern Sea Route. The vessel will probably be ready for service in 2016, according to Atomflot. (Thomas Nilsen / BarentsObserver)
Rosatomflot, owner of Russia’s fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers, has decided to continue bringing tourists to the North Pole as repairs of “Sovetskiy Soyuz” will be finished earlier than planned.

“Repairs of the nuclear-powered icebreaker “Sovetskiy Soyuz” will be finished in 2016, and not in 2017, as first planned. This way we will have an extra icebreaker, which gives us the opportunity to use “50 Let Pobedy” for cruises in July-August 2016-2018,” Deputy Director of Atomflot Andrey Smirnov says in a press release.

Starting in 1990, exclusive North Pole expeditions tailored for wealthy tourists have been a solid source of income for Rosatomflot. In July the company announced that they planned to give up this activity and prepared to conduct the six last cruises in 2015, since increase in commercial shipping along the Northern Sea Route will enhance the need for icebreaker assistance.

“Sovetskiy Soyuz” has been docked in Murmansk since 2007 and been used as a source for spare parts for the other nuclear-powered icebreakers. The vessel was supposed to be taken out of service for good in 2014 and subsequently become scrap metal. However, in 2012, the Russian government decided otherwise and repairs of the vessel started in May 2014.

Russia has six nuclear-powered icebreakers: “Rossiya” (in service since 1985), “Taymyr” (1989), “Sovetskiy Soyuz” (1990), “Vaygach” (19990), “Yamal” (1993) and “50 Let Pobedy” (2007). They are all based in Murmansk.

Russia has started construction of the world’s largest and most powerful nuclear-powered icebreaker. It is planned to be ready for operations in 2017.

Related stories from around the North:

Asia:  Full steam ahead for Asian icebreakers in the Arctic this summer, Blog by Mia Bennett

Canada: Canada’s Arctic patrol ships – A $250M mystery, CBC News

Finland: New Finland icebreaker can operate sideways with asymmetrical hull, Yle News

Russia: Russia, icebreakers and Arctic identity, Blog by Mia Bennett

Sweden: Swedish icebreakers gear up for Arctic role, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska ships its first oil to Asia in a decade, Cryopolitics

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