Accident-prone icebreaker back on Northern Sea Route

Taymyr berthed at Atomflot's base outside Murmansk. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Russia’s nuclear-powered icebreaker “Taimyr” is back in service after one year of repairs. Last year the vessel had a leakage in one of the steam generators – the year before that in the cooling water system.


The single-reactor icebreaker “Taimyr” will leave port of Murmansk on March 19-20 to start working on the Northern Sea Route. It will be escorting supply vessels to the building site of the coming port of Sabetta. “Taimyr” has been in for repairs since March 2012, when a leakage in one of the steam generators was discovered while it was on duty in the White Sea.

It was decided to repair the icebreaker immediately, since two of the four steam generators had to be replaced. Malfunction in the generators does not influence on the operational safety of the icebreaker, but single-reactor icebreakers like “Taimyr” and “Vaigach” are not able to break thick ice with one or more generators out of order”, Vladimir Arutyunyan of Rosatomflot says to RIA Novosti.

The two malfunctioning steam generators on “Taimyr” were replaced by “practically unused” steam generators from the icebreaker “Sibir, according to Arutyunyan.  “Sibir” was built in 1977. It was defueled and taken out of service in 1992.  

In May 2011 increased levels of radiation were detected in the air ventilation system of the reactor aboard “Taimyr” while it was escorting vessels on the Yenisei river. It was escorted out of the ice-covered Kara Sea by another icebreaker and sailed to its home port of Murmansk, where it underwent two months of repairs.

Regarding the rest of Russia’s fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers, “Vaigach” is escorting vessels on the Yenisey river, “Yamal” is working in the White Sea, “50 Years of Victory” is on its way into dock for preparations to four summer cruises to the North Pole, and “Rossiya” is still working in the Gulf of Finland, RIA Novosti writes.