Nuclear giant sails Scandinavia

The world’s largest nuclear powered icebreaker sails few nautical miles outside the coast en route from Murmansk to the Bay of Finland. Norwegian authorities are on alert. BarentsObserver tracks the “50 Years of Victory” on the map.


“50 Years of Victory” at port north of Murmansk. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

The giant icebreaker is starting its two nuclear reactors and make ready to cast off from its homeport in the north outskirts of Murmansk. She sailed out in the Barents Sea late on Wednesday in direct lane for Norwegian economical waters. First west to North Cape before setting course southbound along the coast of Norway towards Skagerrak and the narrow Øresund between Sweden and Denmark.

It is not necessarily the strong winds that are predicted along northern Norway over the next few days that concerns Norwegians most. It is the vessel’s two nuclear reactors attracts attention from Norwegian authorities.

The Norwegian Radiation Protection authorities have preparedness and will follow the voyage of this icebreaker closely,” says Yngvar Bratvedt to BarentsObserver. He works at the nuclear preparedness division of the radiation protection authorities (NRPA).

The Russian nuclear powered icebreaker will attract special attention at the Vessel Traffic Service in Vardø on the coast to the Barents Sea. The officers are on duty round the clock monitoring risk traffic in the Barents Sea and along the coast of Norway. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

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NRPA was informed by Russian authorities on Tuesday the icebreaker will sail from Murmansk on Wednesday. Sailing distance from Murmansk to Norwegian economical waters is just some few hours.

BarentsObserver first reported about the voyage in December.

We will by routine inform other Nordic radiation authorities. We will also inform the County administrators and the Crisis Committee for Nuclear Preparedness,” says Yngvar Bratvedt.

Radiation risks connected to Russian vessels have been broadly debated in Norway after the fire involving a nuclear powered submarine in a floating dock just north of Murmansk in late December.

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In mid-December two crew members were killed and one other wounded when a fire broke out on the Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker “Vaygach” as reported by BarentsObserver. Last May, another icebreaker had a radiation leak in a pipe within the reactor’s cooling system.

In this map you can follow the nuclear powered icebreaker on her voyage from Murmansk to the Gulf of Finland. The vessel is marked grey and has the Russian name 50 LET POBEDY.

 “50 Years of Victory” sails in Norwegian waters for some 3-4 days before appearing on the surveillance monitors of Danish and Swedish coastal authorities and next week also in Finland.

Arriving in the Gulf of Finland next week, the nuclear powered giant will crash the ice so that vessels freely can sail in and out of St. Petersburg.

The “50 Years of Victory” will be a spectacular show when crashing the ice. No other icebreakers are more powerful. The two reactors provide a power of 54 MW, or some 75,000 hp. Normally, the icebreakers operates the waters along Russia’s Arctic coast and has even been to the North Pole.

The nuclear giant vessel will work in the Gulf of Finland for 100 days and will do the return voyage back to Murmansk when the ice starts to melt in the spring.

The icebreaker is both the newest and largest of Russia’s fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers, the only civilian nuclear-powered vessels in the world. “50 Years of Victory” was put into service in 2007.