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Russia readies world’s largest nuclear icebreaker
November 6, 2013, 10:18 am


Russia is the only country with a nuclear icebreaker fleet [AP]

Russia has begun construction of the largest and most powerful nuclear-powered icebreaker in Saint Petersburg’s Baltic Shipyard.

The ship will be powered by two nuclear reactors and will be 14 metres longer and four metres wider than the current largest, the 50 Let Pobedy (50 Years of Victory).

Russia is the only country with a nuclear icebreaker fleet.

The state nuclear power corporation, Rosatom, signed a $1.2 billion contract for the construction of the new generation icebreaker on August 23.

The vessel is expected to be floated out in November 2015 and will operate on the Northern Sea Route.

The icebreaker must complete its sea and ice trials and arrive at the Murmansk base of Atomflot, which operates the country’s commercial icebreaker fleet, by December 2017

“There are no doubts that this work will be completed in due time and with due quality,” Ivan Kamenskikh, President of the United Shipbuilding Corporation, said during a ceremony on Tuesday.

The Russian military is planning to form a squadron of warships with ice-breaking capability by 2014 to protect vital shipping routes in the Arctic, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday.

“I hope we will find additional capability to transport cargo in the Arctic, including support of ships moving along the Arctic routes,” Shoigu said at a video-conferencing session at the Defense Ministry.

New equipment will also be provided for infantry forces to fight in the region, he said.

Russia’s Arctic territory is home to its nuclear ice-breakers and Navy vessels. One-quarter of the world’s resources of oil and gas are believed to lie beneath the Arctic Ocean.

The Russian Regional Development Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that Russia would need to protect its interests in the Arctic by boosting military infrastructure in the region.

President Vladimir Putin also said in October this year that Russia will continue to expand its presence in the “precious” Arctic region.

“I want to say once again – we will take the path of expanding our presence in the Arctic,” said President Putin, adding that Russia will be very careful about the region’s vulnerable nature and its importance to the whole planet.

China and India were granted observer status in the Arctic council in May this year.

At present, only the eight countries of the Arctic Council have a say in setting policy in the region – America, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Iceland.

Russia announced plans to build a $223 million year-round Arctic research platform earlier this year.

Source: Agencies

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