In remotest Russian Arctic, a new Navy base
A heavily equipped Northern Fleet mission is setting up a base at the New Siberian Islands, a key site along the Northern Sea Route.
According to military sources, the new base will protect offshore oil and gas resources in the area and keep an eye on the growing number of ships sailing along the Northern Sea Route.
In a video conference with President Vladimir Putin this week, Northern Fleet Head Commander Vladimir Korolev confirmed that three Navy vessels, including the “Petr Veliky” missile cruiser, as well as seven support vessels and four nuclear-powered icebreakers are involved in the operations, a transcript from the meeting reads.
The vessels arrived on site on September 12 and by September 29 all equipment, including Navy base personnel, will be brought on land by helicopters and support vessels. According to the Northern Fleet, the local airfield Temp will be reconstructed and made operational already in the course of October, adjusted to aircrafts models An-72, An-74, and later on also Il-76. The base will include also representatives of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations, meteorologists and climate researchers.
The most complicated part of the operation is the moving of more than ten housing modules on shore, the Russian Armed Forces informs in a news report.
The Island of Kotelny in the period 1933-1993 housed a research station and military base. Remains of the decades of Soviet presence at the island is overwhelming. Significant volumes of abandoned military equipment and metal scrap is covering major parts of the island. According to TV-station Zvezda, there is a total of more than 60 thousand rusting oil barrels left on site.
The revival of the base comes after the signing of a decree by President Putin.
It is not all clear however, what will be the main work objective for Russia`s new Arctic base. The island of Kotelny on which the base will be located, is situated on 75 degrees north, thousands of kilometers away from the nearest settlement. According to a source in the Russian General Staff, the new base will help Russia protect oil resources in the area and strengthen control over the Northern Sea Route, newspaper Kommersant reports. However, there is currently no drilling in either the Laptev Sea or the East Siberian Sea and the number of vessels sailing along the Northern Sea Route, albeit increasing, remains modest.