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City news, 02.04.2007 15:44

World's largest nuclear icebreaker put to sea in St. Petersburg

icebreaker ST. PETERSBURG, April 2 (RIA Novosti) - The largest nuclear-powered icebreaker in the world has been put to sea and left St. Petersburg for Murmansk, a spokesman for a St. Petersburg-based ship maker said Monday.

The 50 Years of Victory icebreaker, which has been under construction since 1989 and was built at the Baltiisky Zavod ship factory, was successfully tested in February of this year.

"The icebreaker was launched on the Baltic Sea and set sail for its port of assignment in Murmansk [Russia's north]," the spokesman said. "The icebreaker will follow a Northern Sea route for the ice channeling of vessels during the 2007 spring navigation period."

An upgrade of the Arktika-class icebreaker, the 159-meter (522-foot) long and 30-meter (100-foot) wide vessel, with a deadweight of 25,000 metric tons, is designed to break through ice up to 2.8 meters deep (9.2 feet). It has a 138-man crew.

The Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet, which is operated by the Murmansk Shipping Company, currently consists of five Arktika-class icebreakers (Arktika, Sibir, Rossiya, Sovetskiy Soyuz and Yamal), and two Taymyr-class river icebreakers (Taymyr and Vaygach).

According to experts, Russia will need six to 10 nuclear-powered icebreakers in the next 20 years, as demand for them grows with the development of the Arctic shelf and increased traffic along the Northern Sea route.

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(c) 2000