Nuclear cruiser sails to Northern Sea Route entrance

"Pyotr Veliky" - the Russian navy's only nuclear powered surface vessel at port in Severomorsk north of Murmansk. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Russia’s only operating nuclear powered battle cruiser “Pyotr Veliky” left Severomorsk on Wednesday and sets sail for the Kara Sea.


The giant warship will be on a combat training mission, reports the information portal with reference to the head of information of the Northern fleet Captain of 1st rank Vadim Serga. 

The Kara Sea is the entrance to the Northern Sea Route (NSR), the shipping lane that becomes more and more attractive for trade between Europe and Asia as the Arctic ice-cap melts away. The navy source says the current mission with “Pyotr Veliky” (“Peter the Great” in English) is in line with Russia’s maritime doctrine that stipulates for resuming Russian naval vessels regular presence in strategically important areas of the World Oceans.

The Kara Sea is not only important as the gateway to the Northern Sea Route, but also because of its estimated large-scale oil and gas resources. Rosneft is this summer conducting seismic studies in the Kara Sea, mapping the area before the Russian oil major together with partner Exxon start drilling for oil and gas.

The warship will be training in the Kara Sea in the busiest season for commercial shipping along the Northern Sea Route. As reported by BarentsObserver earlier this week, the number of vessels sailing the NSR has so far reached 22 – 13 from the west to the east and nine in the opposite direction. In the coming two months, many more vessels are in line for voyages along the route.

Watch video of “Petr Veliky” leaving Severomorsk for Arctic waters on TV Zvezda

“Pyotr Veliky” is based in Severomorsk, the Northern Fleet’s main base in the Kola bay north of Murmansk on the Kola Peninsula. The battle cruiser is the  head vessel of the fleet and is powered by two nuclear reactors. She will also sail in the Barents- and White Sea area during the same voyage this autumn.