I use this old picture of Soviet polar activities to illustrate a really important news: Greenpeace has proceeded with its work and its ice-breaker Arctic Sunrise has entered the Kara Sea despite receiving no permission from the Sevmorput administration. Russian media reports laconically on this enterprise, but much more can be found on the Greenpeace website. It is a pity that the Arctic Sunrise would not be able to make a rendezvous with Professor Molchanov, as the voyage of the Arctic University has just come to the end in Dudinkaa.
The Northern Fleet Naval Aviation exercises in the Barents Sea have the traditional agenda of hunting for “hostile” submarines. They may have an additional goal of making an impression on Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, who is taking a ride of the 50 Let Pobedy nuclear icebreaker in order to inspect the safety of navigation on the Sevmorput. While I was following these news, I discovered by chance that the Strategy for the Development of the Arctic zone, approved by President Putin in February 2013, has disappeared from the government website. It may be just a technical glitch, but the document is so low on meaningful content that it would hardly be missed.
On this day thirteen years ago we still believed that some sailors on board the Kursk were alive…
The Arctic ice is about to hit a new historic low this month, and Rossiiskaya gazeta has proudly reported that nuclear ice-breaker 50 Let Pobedy made a voyage to the North Pole, which happened to be the 100th visit by a ship to this symbolic spot. What the newspaper is somewhat shy about is that the huge ice-breaker actually works as a cruise ship advertizing to wealthy tourists luxury cabins with names like Grand or Victoria. In the meanwhule, the Chinese cargo ship Yong Sheng has started the trip to Rotterdam expecting to come 15 days faster than the usual way through the Suez canal. The administration of the Northern Sea Route has duly issued the proper permission.
It is 80 years ago – 2 August 1933 – that the unfortunate Chelyuskin left Murmansk for the voyage along the Sevmorput that became one of the legends of early Stalin’s era. And this is the link to a lengthy presentation of the voyage of Petr Velikii along the same route, which is supposed to symbolize that the ‘battle for the Arctic is a part of the struggle for global transformation’ led by the BRICS.
The extremely hot weather in the Arctic was noticed even by the Fox News, not generally known for climate concerns, but for a more scientific coverage I would recommend this.
The command of the Northern Fleet has decided to use this opportunity for sending the nuclear cruiser Petr Veliky (known also as the “presidental yacht”, as this photo shows) into the Eastern part of the Arctic for showing the flag in new waters.
Russian fleet of nuclear icebreakers (pictured here at its base Atomflot near Murmansk) has decommissioned the third ship of Arktika class, called Rossiya. Built in 1985, this ship became famous in 2007 taking the famous flag-planting expedition to the North Pole. With the addition of 50 Let Pobedy in 2007 (the construction started in 1989), this fleet now has three open-sea ships, two river icebreakers, and one container ship. The uploading of nuclear fuel from Rossiya is due to be completed in September, which will remind about the lost benefits of the Nunn-Lugar program. That initiative fully deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Arctic-info informs that the B-800 submarine Kaluga has finished sea trials after modernization and is ready to return to the Northern Fleet. There is a bit of context to this info – this Kilo-class (project 877) diesel sub was built back in 1989 (and named Vologodsky Komsomolets, yes, a bit funny). In 2002, it was brought for repairs to the Zvezdochka plant – and essentially forgotten. However, when in late 2011, the decision was taken to cancel the program for deploying a new generation of diesel subs (project 677 Lada-class) because the trials of the pilot sub St.Petersburg were unsatisfactory, the repairs on poor Kaluga were resumed. How safe is the sub after 12 years in the dock – anybody’s guess.
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin presented confrontation in the Arctic as one of five possible scenarios for future wars focusing particularly on the attacks on Russian oil and gas plants and on NATO naval threats to the SevMorPut. He was speaking at the conference organized by Rossiiskaya gazeta with the aim of elaborating on Putin’s article ‘Being strong‘ published in this newspaper 16 months prior.