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19 Apr, 2017 17:58

Russia lays down icebreaker patrol boat to bolster Navy’s Arctic presence (VIDEO)

Russia lays down icebreaker patrol boat to bolster Navy’s Arctic presence (VIDEO)

A St. Petersburg shipyard has laid down a new ship that will be used to ensure the Russian Navy’s presence in the Arctic region. The ‘Ivan Papanin’ was designed as a multipurpose patrol ship that can serve as an icebreaker and a tow boat.

The lead ship of the new class was laid down on Wednesday by the Admiralty Shipyard in St. Petersburg. Russian Navy Commander Adm. Vladimir Korolev led the ceremony.

“We are marking an important event for the Navy’s operations as well as for naval shipbuilding today,” he said. “The ice-rated patrol ship will be built on an order from the defense minister to protect the Arctic strategic direction.”

Officially named Project 23550, the new class is unique in the Russian military arsenal. It would be able to guide other warships through ice up to 1.5 meters thick or conduct solo patrol missions.

The ‘Ivan Papanin’ will be 114 meters long, with a displacement of roughly 7,000 tons and a crew of 49, with an option to transport 47 additional troops. It is designed to cover a distance of some 6,000 naval miles (11,100km) without needing to resupply.

The ship will be armed with two cruise missiles from the Kalibr family and an A-190 100-mm cannon. The design includes a helipad intended for a Kamov Ka-27 helicopter, the workhorse of Russian anti-submarine warfare. It also has bays for two Raptor-class speedboats.

The ship is named after Ivan Papanin, the famous Soviet Arctic explorer who held the rank of a Navy rear-admiral, among other distinctions. Papanin headed a series of pioneering expeditions in the north during the 1930s, as well as heading the rescue operation which brought back the icebreaker ‘Georgy Sedov’ after an epic 800-day stay in an ice trap.

The Russian Arctic warship is comparable to the Norwegian Coast Guard icebreaker and offshore patrol vessel ‘Svalbard’ in specification. The European Arctic nation has only one such ship, the biggest in its military fleet, but Canada has ordered two icebreakers of this design for its navy.

The Russian Defense Ministry contracted two Project 23550 ships last year. The second will be named after another Arctic explorer and oceanographer, Nikolay Zubov, who was the first person to sail around Franz Josef Land. The ‘Nikolay Zubov’ is to be laid down sometime in late 2017.

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In June 2016, the St. Petersburg shipyard had floated out the ‘Ilya Muromets,’ the Navy’s first icebreaker in more than four decades. It’s somewhat smaller compared to the ‘Ivan Papanin’ and carries no weapons. The Russian military also last year ordered design works for a new ice-rated supply ship dubbed Project 03183. So far, no specification for the ship has been revealed.