Nuclear container ship back to St. Petersburg after only two months in the Arctic

The Sevmorput nuclear cargo ship, seen here at port in Murmansk, northwest Russia. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

After only two months in the Arctic, Russia’s nuclear-powered “Sevmorput” is Thursday sailing south again outside the coast of northern Norway.

In mid-August, the 33-years old nuclear-powered cargo ship came north to Murmansk after a year in the south. Why the ship now sails south again is unknown.

In September, “Sevmorput“ spent long time at anchor outside Novaya Zemlya in the area of Russia’s top-secret Pankovo test site. Here, the Burevestnik experimental nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed cruise missile under development has previously been tested. The area is also home to Rosatom’s Pavlovskoye lead-zinc mining project under development.

After a period in Murmansk, the 260 meters long vessel now sails around Scandinavia with St. Petersburg as destination.

No info published about aim

The ship can be tracked via its AIS system and was sailing north of Hammerfest at noon on Thursday. In the course of the next few days the vessel will be outside Norway, heading in to Skagerak on Monday and the Baltic Sea Tuesday. Arrival in St. Petersburg is estimated to Thursday October 28.

Rosatomflot, the state enterprise operating Russia’s fleet of civilian nuclear-powered icebreakers, has not published any information about the aim of the voyage from Murmansk to St. Petersburg.

Last year, the “Sevmorput” was forced to abort a prestigious tour to Antarctica with Russia’s new Vostok research station. A troubled propeller blade fell off somewhere in the Atlantic and the vessel returned to St. Petersburg where she spent almost a year at the shipyard.

Russia does currently not have any floating docks in the Murmansk region big enough to hold “Sevmorput”. For that reason, docking of the ship took place in St. Petersburg.

2022 fish transport

Next summer, “Sevmorput” is scheduled to resume fish transport between Vladivostok and St. Petersburg via the Northern Sea Route. Three voyages are planned for 2022, in June, September and November, Rossiskaya Gazeta recently reported.

Test-tours with fish from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatkha in 2019 and 2020 were not considered economical profitable.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada:  44 per cent increase in unique ships entering Canada’s Northwest Passage, says report, Eye on the Arctic

Estonia: Estonian president favorable towards Arctic railway project, cautious about future of Arctic shipping, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Shipping, climate & business opportunities in the North: Q&A with the Arctic Economic Council, Eye on the Arctic

Russia: North Russian regions want extension of Arctic shipping route, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Northern Sweden expects population boom from green investments, Radio Sweden

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

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