Nuclear container ship to be put back in service

Nuclear-powered container ship "Sevmorput" at Atomflot's base outside Murmansk.

Russia has started repairs of the world’s only nuclear-powered container vessel «Sevmorput». It will be used in both commercial and military operations in the Russian Arctic.


The 260 meter long and 61.000 ton displacement “Sevmorput” was planned to be cut to needles but will now get a new life. The vessel, which was commissioned in 1988, was put in dry dock in Roslyakovo outside Murmansk on December 26 and will go through extensive repairs before entering service again in 2016, Atomflot’s web site reads.

The vessel has been lying idle at the Atomflot base for years before it in July 2012 was taken out of the Russian Ship Register and a decision to cut it into scrap metal was taken. Just before Christmas Rosatom signed a contract to have the vessel repaired instead.

Commercial tasks
“Sevmorput”, which has powerful icebreaking capacities, will be put in service in deliveries of goods to the northern territories. The vessel’s enormous cargo capacities make it possible to transport one year’s requirements of provisions and supplies to all settlements along the northern coast of Russia on one single journey, according to Murmansky Vestnik.

The vessel will also be involved in oil and gas projects on the Arctic shelf and in development of the Pavlovskoye zinc-lead mine on Novaya Zemlya.

Military tasks
“Sevmorput” will be conducting several tasks for the Ministry of Defense, primarily connected with Russia’s enhanced presence in the Arctic and re-opening of cold war-era airfields on the New Siberian Islands and Franz Josef Land, Atomflot writes.

«Sevmorput» was commissioned in 1988. The initial plan was to utilize the vessel in international shipping, but due to port restrictions on nuclear-powered vessels in most countries in the world, it was used mainly on the route between Murmansk and Dudinka.

In a bid to get the ship back in active service, the Murmansk Shipping Company in 2007 proposed to rebuild it into an oil drilling vessel. That initiative, however, stranded as the federal nuclear power company Rosatom took over the responsibility of the icebreaker fleet in 2008.

The vessel, built at the Zaliv yard in Kerch, Ukraine, was a unique contribution to the Soviet fleet of civilian nuclear vessels when entering service in 1988. Until then, the world had seen only three other nuclear powered civilian merchant ships, all of which ended up as failed experimental vessels.