Nuclear icebreaker Arktika completes historic escort of small ice-class vessels in the Arctic

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In a first such operation through the Northern Sea Route in the Arctic Ocean, the nuclear-powered icebreaker Arktika has completed escorting ships of the low ice class from east to west at this time of year. 

Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom announced earlier this week that the Arktika, owned by its subsidiary Atomflot, has escorted two ships of the Arc5 class — M/V Engineer Trubin and M/V Polar King — as well as the nuclear-powered container ship Sevmorput, through the entire waterway of the Northern Sea Route during last month.  

Rosatom’s Project 22220 to construct nuclear-powered icebreakers is designed to help keep the Northern Sea Route open for year-round shipping through the Arctic. The project’s flagship icebreaker, Arktika, is currently operating in the Northern Sea Route. 

“Today we can safely say that Arc5 ships escorted by a nuclear-powered icebreaker can pass the entire water area of the Northern Sea Route in this season”, Atomflot’s First Deputy Director General, Leonid Irlitsa, said in a statement.  

“On February 9, 2022, nuclear-powered icebreaker Arktika started escorting M/V Engineer Trubin and M/V Polar King from the port of Pevek with the assistance of diesel-electric icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn. Two days later, nuclear-powered container ship Sevmorput joined the convoy in the East Siberian Sea. The world’s only nuclear-powered cargo ship was sailing from Vladivostok to Murmansk, its port of registration”, Rosatom said.  

“Due to shallow depth and specific hydrometeorological conditions, the ice situation in the East Siberian Sea is especially challenging. The operation on escorting a convoy of ships provided our crew with a unique experience and confirmed the unique capabilities of the nuclear-powered icebreaker of 22220 design”, said Arktika’s captain Vasily Gubkin. 

According to the statement, it took the convoy two days from the port of Pevek to pass the Northern Sea Route up to the western edge of the Kara Sea. Arktika, equipped with an RITM 200 reactor and integrated steam generator, continues its operations in the Ob-Yenisei region of the Northern Sea Route, the statement added. 

In December 2021, Rosatom commissioned a new nuclear-powered icebreaker named Sibir, while the nuclear icebreakers Ural, Yakutia, and Chukotka are currently under construction in St. Petersburg.