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Arktika class

Armed nuclear-powered icebreaker

Arktika class icebreaker

The Arktika class nuclear icebreakers had provision to carry weapons

 
 
Country of origin Russia
Entered service 1975
Crew 150
Sea endurance 7.5 months
Dimensions and displacement
Length 136 m
Beam 28 m
Draught 11 m
Displacement 23 460 tons
Propulsion and speed
Speed 18 knots
Range limited only by food supplies
Propulsion 2 x OK-900A nuclear reactors, developing 171 MW each. Power is delivered to 3 shafts
Airwing
Helicopters 1 x Mi-2, Mi-8 or Ka-27
Armament
Artillery 2 x AK-176 dual-purpose guns, 4 x AK-630 CIWS
Missiles 2 x Osa-M short-range air defense missile systems

 

   In 1971 a new Project 10520 nuclear-powered icebreaker was laid down in Soviet Union. The lead icebreaker of the class, Arktika (Arctics) was commissioned in 1975. At the time it was the most powerful icebreaker ever built. The Arktika was the first surface ship to reach North Pole. This was archived in 1977. In 1982 this nuclear icebreaker was rechristened to Leonid Brezhnev. However in 1986 the name was reverted back to Arktika. The lead ship was followed by another 5 icebreakers. The Rossiya was the first ship to carry commercial passengers to the North Pole. The last of the class, 50 Let Pobedy (50 Years of Victory), was built to an improved standard and was the most largest, powerful and fastest icebreaker of this class. Name of this icebreaker refers to the anniversary of victory of the Soviet Union in the World War II. It was laid down in 1989 and launched in 1993. It was planned to be commissioned in 1995, on the actual 50th anniversary of the Victory Day, after it was named. However in 1994 was was stopped due to the lack of funds. Construction was restarted only in 2003. The ship was eventually completed and commissioned in 2007.

   Even though these icebreakers were built as civilian vessels, there was provision to carry weapons. In case of war these icebreakers could be used as armored escorts or coastal patrol ships. So the Arktika went to sea trials fitted with weapon systems, although this was kept in high secrecy. Soon after the sea trials the weapons were removed, but could be easily reinstalled when required.

   The icebreakers could be fitted with two AK-176 dual-purpose guns and four AK-630 Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS). Also there were two Osa-M short-range air defense missile systems.

   These nuclear-powered icebreakers had a helipad and hangar for a single helicopter. Initially it was a Mi-2. Later a more advanced Mi-8 or Ka-27 helicopters were used.

   The Arktica class icebreakers are fitted with two OK-900A nuclear reactors, developing 171 MW each. Power is delivered to 3 shafts.

   These icebreakers have a sea endurance of 7.5 months. In the year 2000 the lead icebreaker of the class, Arktika, was the first civilian ship to spend more than a year at sea, without making port.

   Sibir was the first icebreaker of this class to be decommissioned. It was retired in 1992 after only 15 years of service. This was due to technical error in its steam generating system. Its reactor has been removed and the vessel is due to be scrapped. The Arktika class icebreakers were originally designed for 100 000 hours of reactor life, or a planned service life of 25 years. The lead ship was repaired in the late 1990s in order to extend its reactor life for another 50 000 hours. After that it was repaired one more time to add another 25 000 hours. This added 8 years to its planned 25-year service life. In 2008 its nuclear fuel had to be replaced. Russians decided that it was economically and technologically unfeasible to extend its service life once more. So the lead icebreaker, Arktika, was decommissioned in 2008 after 33 years of service.

   The Rossiya was decommissioned in 2013 and Sovetskiy Soyuz followed in 2014. By 2020 only the Yamal and 50 Let Pobedy icebreakers were in active service.

   Currently Russia is building a new class of nuclear-powered icebreakers. The lead ship of the new Project 22220, also known as Arktika, was laid down in 2013. It was launched in 2016. It is planned to be commissioned in 2020. A total of 4 new icebreakers of this class are being built, while another one was ordered. The new icebreakers are even bigger, faster and more powerful.

 

Name Laid down Launched Commissioned Status
Arktika 1971 1972 1975

decommissioned in 2008

Sibir 1974 1976 1977

decommissioned in 1992

Rossiya 1981 1983 1985

decommissioned in 2013, laid up

Sovetskiy Soyuz 1983 1986 1989

decommissioned in 2014, laid up

Yamal 1986 1989 1992

active, in service

50 Let Pobedy 1989 1993 2007

active, in service

 

 

 
Arktika class icebreaker

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Arktika class icebreaker

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Arktika class icebreaker

Expand image

Arktika class icebreaker

Expand image

Arktika class icebreaker

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Arktika class icebreaker

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