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Arkitka – The World’s Largest Nuclear-Powered Ice Breaker

Arktika is the first in class of a new of a new generation of Russian nuclear-powered icebreakers. Construction began at the Baltic Shipyards in St. Petersburg in 2013 with a scheduled completion in 2017, however construction delays pushed the completion back and she finally completed sea trials in mid-September 2020. Painted in the colors of the Russian state flag, she is destined to operate north of the Arctic Circle in anticipation of a year-round Northern Shipping Route in support of Russian development of a warming Arctic region and the natural resources that lie therein.

  • Built by Baltic Shipyard, Saint Petersburg
  • LOA 173.3m
  • Beam 34m
  • Operating draft range 8.6-10.5m
  • Ice-class: RMRS Icebreaker9
  • Power plant: 2 x RITM-200 nuclear reactors (2 x 175 MW) & 2 x turbogenerators (2 x 36MW)
  • Propulsion: nuclear turbo-electric driving 3 shafts (3 x 20MW)
  • Maximum speed 22 knots, 1.5-2knots in 2.8m of ice
  • Reactor endurance: 7 years
  • Provisions endurance: 6 months
  • Crew: 75
  • Aviation: Helideck and hangar
  • Cost (estimate) USD 1.2 billion
  • In late September Arktika left Saint Peterburg on her maiden voyage, a two-week voyage to Murmansk and in early October she reached the geographic North Pole.

Sister ships Sibir and Ural are also under construction with firm orders for two additional vessels. The investment is designed to solidify Moscow’s dominance in the Arctic, a region estimated to hold some 22% of the world’s untapped oil and gas, which Canada, the United States, Norway, and China, in particular, all view as strategically important.

President Putin is on record in stating that by 2035, Russia’s Arctic fleet would operate at least 13 heavy-duty icebreakers, nine of which would be nuclear powered.

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