50 Let Pobedy nuclear icebreaker completes scheduled navigation; new challenges in NSR

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The 50 Let Pobedy nuclear icebreaker, operated by the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom’s subsidiary Atomflot, arrived at its home port of Murmansk earlier this month after having escorted 125 vessels in the Arctic waters since November 1922 and logging 28,500 nautical miles in the process, according to an announcement by Rosatom.  

The 50 Let Pobedy (“50 Years of Victory”) is a Russian Arktika class nuclear-powered icebreaker.  

“The 50 Let Pobedy nuclear icebreaker ensured the safe passage of ships along the sea canal of the Ob Bay and in the Kara Sea,” the acting Director General of Atomflot, Leonid Irlitsa, said in a statement.    

 
“The crew fulfilled its contractual obligations to the customers at a highly professional level. I would like to thank the sailors for their work,” he added.  

 
The 50 Let Pobedy crew change is scheduled on June 19-20, the Rosatom statement said.   

 
“After four months of work, the crew of captain Ruslan Sasov will hand over the shift to captain Dmitry Lobusov’s crew which will have to escort two voyages to the North Pole this year,” it said.  

The crew of the 50 Let Pobedy nuclear icebreaker has begun the scheduled repairs and preparations for cruises, the statement added.  

At present, the nuclear icebreakers Arktika, Sibir, Ural, Taimyr, Vaigach and Yamal are operating in the waters of the Northern Sea Route (NSR).  

 
The NSR via the Arctic Ocean, and which runs along Russia’s northern coastline, is the shortest route between East Asian and Western European ports. The Kara Sea is on the NSR.    

Rosatom operates nuclear powered icebreakers that help keep the NSR open for navigation. The company is constructing icebreakers under its “Project 22220” programme, which will help keep the Northern Sea Route open for year-round shipping. In addition, Rosatom is equipping the NSR facilities, building port infrastructure, and developing transit.    

Meanwhile, a discussion session at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum earlier this month highlighted the new significance of the Northern Sea Route as the most important transport route connecting the vast Arctic territories of Russia, as well as the Northwest and the Far East of the country.  

“Certain events of recent years as well as of present days have been changing world logistics. Given such a situation, safety and sustainability are becoming obvious priorities. The NSR is becoming a unique new route, and we see, especially considering the current situation, a very great potential for cooperation with friendly countries in the development of transit cargo traffic, and moreover we are already taking the relevant actions,” Rosatom Director General Alexei Likhachev said at the forum.  

The integrated development of the Russian Arctic is a national strategic priority and Arctic projects are being implemented in accordance with the plan. The next stage in the development of the Northern Sea Route is year-round navigation in the Eastern Sector, a Rosatom statement said.  

“By now, the NSR year-round icebreaking and transport system has been formed in the Kara Sea, which, first of all, ensures the development of the Russian Arctic. At the beginning of 2024, a historic event will take place, which is Novatek’s regular eastward year-round voyages, and navigation will become year-round along all 5,600 km of the NSR water area,” Likhachev added.  

According to Rosatom, the NSR has got a development impetus due to mining, infrastructure, and logistics projects. In the last decade, the fundamental changes have taken place thanks to the projects of Norilsk Nickel, Novatek, Gazprom Neft, which built a high Arctic class fleet making the Northern Sea Route efficient and safe.  

Year-round navigation has been organized in the NSR’s western part since such vessels are able to navigate without icebreaker assistance in certain ice conditions, the statement added.