Nuclear container ship on the move

The Sevmorput is soon ready for regular shipping along Russia's Arctic coast. Photo:
The Sevmorput will be ready soon for regular shipping along Russia’s Arctic coast. Photo:
The world’s only nuclear-powered container ship, the “Sevmorput”, will conduct a two-way transit voyage across the Northern Sea Route this year.

The Murmansk Commercial Sea Port confirms that the ship is undergoing preparations for duty in Arctic waters. After having lain idle for more than a decade, the “Sevmorput,” will soon be back in business on the Northern Sea Route.  

According to DP Media, the ship will in the course of the year conduct a test two-way transit voyage between Murmansk and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka.

The voyage will prove the vessel’s level of efficiency in container shipping between the two cities, the news report reads. Rosatomflot, the Russian state nuclear power company, is reportedly planning the trip in the period October-November.

As previously reported, the vessel in December 2015 conducted a one-day test sailing in the Barents Sea.

When the upgrade is completed,  the ”Sevmorput” could get a key role in the transportation of troops and military personnel to Russia’s new and upgraded Arctic bases. The ship will also be used for transportation of goods to the new Pavlovsk lead and zink mine in Novaya Zemlya, as well as for assignments for the Russian Arctic oil industry.

Regional authorities in Murmansk apparently see the ship as a key component in a strategy of boosting container shipping on the Northern Sea Route.

The 260 meter long and 61.000 ton deadweight ship was saved at the last minute when Rosatom leader Sergey Kirienko in 2013 announced that the vessel is to be renovated and out back on duty.

Before 2013, the ship had been docked for years at the Atomflot base in Murmansk without assignments. Rosatom was preparing to turn the ship into scrap metal.

The vessel, originally built at the Zaliv yard in Kerch, Ukraine, was a unique contribution to the Soviet fleet of civilian nuclear vessels when entering service in 1988. Until then, the world had seen only three other nuclear powered civilian merchant ships, all of which ended up as failed experimental vessels.

The “Sevmorput,” which also has powerful icebreaking capacities, for several years shipped in both international and Russian domestic waters. However, shipping along the Russian Northern Sea Route declined dramatically in the 1990s and the ship was soon blocked access to most international ports.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Floating nuclear power stations for Arctic? Radio Canada International

USA: U.S. Coast Guard inches towards new icebreaker, Alaska Dispatch News

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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