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5 May, 2009 19:32

World’s first nuclear ice breaker to become a museum and hotel

World’s first nuclear ice breaker to become a museum and hotel

A Soviet legend of the 20th century, the ‘Lenin’, the first civil nuclear-powered ice breaker, has been moored for good – but only to be reborn as a museum and luxury hotel.

Thus it has been assigned an honorable place at the wharf of the ship terminal in the northern Russian port of Murmansk.

Vyacheslav Ruksha, Director General of the federal state unitary enterprise ‘Atomflot’, has said that the ‘Lenin’ is “a memorial of global importance”, according to the Itar-Tass news agency.

The length of the world famous ice breaker is 134 metres, which is almost the length of one and a half soccer pitches, the width is 27.6 metres and height stands at 16.1 metres. There are more than one thousand compartments on the ‘Lenin’ and it takes several hours to visit them all.

The legendary ice breaker, which made its way through ice, ultimately covering a distance as long as from the Earth to the Moon and back, is not just the first nuclear-powered vessel – it embodies unique technological solutions, scientific research and the heroism of the crew, Ruksha added.

The ice breaker’s crew numbered 243 staff, and it had only two commanders during its entire history. The ship’s second captain, Boris Sokolov, commanded the ‘Lenin’ for almost 40 years.

Sailors, polar explorers and the local population believe that the status of the museum of the Arctic and the Northern Sea Route exploration, which will be created inside the moored pioneer, should also be unique.

Moreover, on December 3, 2009 both the ice breaker and Russia’s nuclear civil fleet will be celebrating half a century of service.

As for the nuclear reactor onboard ‘Lenin’, it won’t pose any threat in terms of radiation leakage, Ruksha said, as “it will be sealed in such a way that it will be hard to open.”

He also told the media that maintenance of the ship would cost about 30 million rubles per year (about $900,000).

It took 3.5 years to build ‘Lenin’ nuclear-powered ice breaker. It was put into operation in 1959 and, since then, December 3 is celebrated as both the birthday of the Russian Nuclear Icebreaking Fleet and the day when the state flag was first ran up at ‘Lenin’.

But a museum is not the only purpose of the legendary ice breaker, according to Marina Kovtun, head of the tourism development department of the ministry of economic development of the Murmansk region.

“‘Lenin’ will also host a hotel with both luxury and business suites, a restaurant, a sports and fitness complex, a conference hall and a business centre,” Kovtun said, as quoted by the newsru.com website.

Foreign newspapers were full of sensational headlines such as ‘Russians put into operation nuclear ice breaker’ and ‘Polar colossus of the Soviets – on Neva’.

Symbolically, the ‘Lenin’ was built at the Admiralty ship-building yard in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), which recently marked its 300th anniversary.

A look inside

Long corridors full of light, single and double cabins with hot and cold water for the crew and a beautiful companion cabin, a club and a day room equipped with TV sets, a cinema, a library with a reading room and several dining rooms, a smoking room with an electric fire – that’s how the ‘Lenin’ nuclear-powered ice breaker looked when it was put into operation.

Also, its air conditioning system was almost an unprecedented comfort in the country at the time.

There were several medical rooms there with the most modern equipment of the era – a therapeutic room, a stomatologic room treating diseases of the mouth, an x-ray room, a physiotherapeutic room, an operating room, a room for medical procedures, a laboratory and a drugstore.

The ’Lenin’ also had its own personal service shops – a shoemaker and a tailor, and also a hairdresser, a laundry, a sauna and a bakery.