RUSSIA RACES, To Build Icebreakers For Arctic Dominance!


Russia Races
Credit: Baltic Shipyard

In readiness for the Arctic dominance, Russia races ahead of other potential economies interested in the North Sea Route and the Arctic, a region that has been deserted for decades due to ice. However, as the ice continues to melt, surprisingly at a rapid pace, interest continues to grow among the world’s economies, which has for every passing year increased the need for icebreaker ships, while more significantly is the fact that the subject Transit Route certainly assures shipping companies and ship-owners of shortest distance and Transit Time from Asia to Europe via the North Sea Route.

Meanwhile, according to reports emerging from the historic Baltic Shipyard at St. Petersburg, it claimed activities within the subject shipyard has been intensified in recent weeks as cranes hover over the shining Neva River which also sees hundreds of workers build four nuclear-powered icebreaker vessels, professionally classified in this sphere as “exploitation and extraction of certain on-shore economic activities”. The subject vessels are reportedly fronted by the Russian flag and also named after the country’s northern regions which ensure her dominance over the melting Arctic.

In a bid to ensure it remains a leading power in the region’s maritime business, a region it claims is its territory where receding ice cover has allowed Moscow to develop a new shipping route, however, she has remained resilient while doubled down in this specific project, an alternate route to the ‘Suez Canal Route’.

It’s also been noted that the Russian President ‘Vladimir Putin’ has not relented from doubling down over the region’s investment, hence, his administration has made the warming a priority while investing heavily in the route known as the Northern Sea Route, a route that promises a well-reduced ship transit time up to 15 days from Europe to Asia faster than the traditional route – the Suez Canal. Even as Russia races to develop the subject ships, it’s also understood effort is made to ensure that the route becomes more accessible due to climate change-year-round as Moscow hopes the icebreakers will help it make use of the route, although, transit in the eastern Arctic usually ends in November.

Baltic Shipyard

Also, noting that the maritime business is subject to international conventions and regulations, it’s poised to state that the vessel’s transit circle is thoroughly curbed out, which it claimed the subject vessels will practically begin their journey at the imperial-era Baltic Shipyard, also the birthplace of all Soviet nuclear-powered icebreakers which exclude one – the Lenin, currently transformed into a museum and docked in the Arctic port of Murmansk. The location where the four icebreaker ships – ‘Sibir’, ‘Ural’, ‘Yakutia’, and ‘Chukhotka’ will eventually be based.

Responding to this development, the shipyard’s chief of construction ‘Kirill Myadzyuta’ said the vessels are a “huge step forward” towards Arctic development. Adding that the ships are designed to resist extreme weather conditions in the Far North, measuring 52 meters high with a length of 173 meters, and are able to smash through ice up to 2.8 meters thick.

While ensuring a drastic reduction of ship’s transit time, one significant and promising feature of the route, it will interest you to know that each ship commissioned by state atomic energy corporation Rosatom cost more than $400 million, which takes more than 1,000 people to construct for a period of five to seven years, stressing that: “We need these ships”.

Also, as ‘Sibir’ (Siberia) that is near completion, is due to leave the shipyard at the end of the year, similarly, other ships are also expected to join the Rosatom fleet in Murmansk in 2022, 2024, 2026 respectively.  

In the same vein, Sibir’s future captain ‘Oleg Shapov’ made it clear that “it’s a very good ship” having been based in St. Petersburg to follow the last stage of the vessel’s construction. While noting that the subject Ship ‘Sibir’ will be an improved version of its predecessor – the Arktika, which was inaugurated last year. And as he prepares to hire a crew for the Sibir, he also added that “We really need these ships in the Arctic”.

Nonetheless, as global competition for the Arctic navigation routes grows, tensions intensify particularly between the United States, Russia, and China, hence, a potential source as Russia races over this project deepens. And if one must look at this from an economic point of view, it’s evident the development of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) should, in particular, simplify the supply chain of wet freights – oil and gas to southeast Asia by connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean via the Arctic precisely in a record time.

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