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12 Jul, 2009 18:16

Putin unveils new ice breaker

A state-of-the-art Russian icebreaker is set for its first major mission after a flag-raising ceremony attended by Vladimir Putin.

The Russian Prime Minister boarded the vessel in his home town of St. Petersburg, where it is docked and after which it is named.

It will join the Moscow, another second-generation icebreaker built in Russia last year, for search-and-rescue operations in the Baltic Sea.

Putin said he ordered the construction of two icebreakers back in 2005, and is satisfied with the result.

“The directive was given in 2005, and the first icebreaker was launched last year,” he said. “That is very good to build two icebreakers within three years.”

According to the governor of St. Petersburg, Valentina Matvienko, the cost of the vessel is estimated at $90 million. Over half of the icebreakers' equipment was made in Russia, she added.

The vessel will be able to tow large-scale objects, collect oil spills and look for sunken vessels in waters up to 300 meters in depth.

The captain of the St. Petersburg, Yuri Akhromkin, noted that major Russian companies including Gazprom and Rosneft have already taken an interest in the icebreakers’ service.