As conflict rages in Ukraine and Arctic relations become frostier Russia has tipped a Crimean shipyard as the new construction site for their polar supertankers.
A spokesman for Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation confirmed the plans Wednesday to RIA Novosti.
Russia’s newly acquired Zalyv Shipyard in Crimea’sKerch port is large enough to accommodate the size of slabs needed to construct the massive vessels, which can exceed 150 000 tons.
Crimea’s overall participation in modernizing the Russian Black Sea Fleet was announced Tuesday, reports portnews.ru, by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.
Many Russian ships now have permanent homes in Crimea, particularly in Sevastopol, which Rogozin referred to as “home” for the Black Fleet in a March Twitter post.
Sevastopol is, geographically, a strategically important area for Russia as well as being their only warm water naval base. Last year Russia lost their naval foothold in Syria due to the ongoing conflict. This has made their Crimean assets more valuable.
Prior to obtaining the Zalyv Shipyard, Russia was commissioning their supertankers out of St. Petersburg. Expanding production to Crimea will help speed up Russia’s fleet overhaul and goal to create Arctic-ready ships.
Arctic exploration and Russian expansion into the High North has been a key goal of President Vladimir Putin.
Escalating resource exploration in the High North combined with territorial disputes betweenUnited States, Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmarkhave put the Arctic Council countries on alert for any changes to polar activity.