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Ceremony for launching nuclear-powered icebreaker Yakutia and flag-raising ceremony on nuclear-powered icebreaker Ural

November 22, 2022, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region

The President attended, via videoconference, the ceremony to launch the Yakutia nuclear-powered icebreaker and to raise the flag of the Russian Federation on the Ural nuclear-powered icebreaker.

The new nuclear-powered vessels were built at the Baltic Shipyard in St Petersburg to the order of the Rosatom State Corporation. They are part of Project 22220, under which the largest and most powerful icebreakers in the world are being built. Their main task is to ensure year-round navigation in the Arctic.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends, colleagues, good afternoon,

Today we have two interesting events important for Russian shipbuilding and our icebreaker fleet and actually for the entire country. It is the accomplishment of two very important, complex tasks, not just two complex tasks but two within one large project. The Russian state flag will be raised on the new universal nuclear-powered icebreaker Ural. Another powerful, contemporary nuclear-powered icebreaker, the Yakutia, is ready for launch at the Baltic Shipyard in St Petersburg. I heartily congratulate all of you on this event.

I want to sincerely thank our shipbuilders, nuclear engineers, designers, workers, engineers and all experts who are taking part in the creation of these technology-intensive, unique – without any exaggeration – vessels, for their extensive work, professionalism, and readiness to develop and reach the most ambitious goals.

Both icebreakers were built as part of a serial project and are included in our large-scale, system-wide work on reequipping and expanding the Russian icebreaker fleet, and on strengthening Russia’s status as a great Arctic power.

I want to note that the first two icebreakers of this series, the Arktika and the Sibir, are already serving in the hardest parts and on complex routes where they have proved their reliability and efficiency, and their top characteristics.

According to the plans, the Ural icebreaker will start performing tasks as early as this December, and the Yakutia icebreaker must be transferred to the fleet at the end of 2024. The commissioning of another icebreaker of the same series – the Chukotka – is scheduled for 2026. In addition, the construction of the Rossiya super-powerful nuclear icebreaker should be completed in 2027 at the Zvezda Shipyard in the Far East: this is truly a super-powerful icebreaker, one of a kind in the world.

Let me stress that the deadlines and the pace of work must be strictly adhered to. I am sure that it will be so. I count on the coordination of all specialists, subcontractors, enterprises and research teams here.

Vessels of such a high ice class are of strategic importance to us. They are needed to study and explore the Arctic, ensure safe and sustainable navigation in this region, and increase traffic along the Northern Sea Route.

Let me repeat again: the development of this most important transport corridor will help Russia more fully unlock its export potential and establish efficient logistics routes, including to Southeast Asia. By the way, we are open to cooperation with our partners, with those who want to work with Russia.

I am confident that we will implement all the plans despite the current difficulties. In order to do so, we will increase the capabilities of our nuclear icebreaker fleet, and, what is essential, we must do this using Russian solutions and production capacities, as well as domestic equipment and components. This is how it actually happens.

I would like to wish great achievements to all of you, friends and colleagues, and further success in their work to the staff of the Baltic Shipyard, as well as fruitful service for the benefit of Russia to the crews of the new nuclear-powered ships.

Congratulations once again.

Please, let us proceed with the planned activities.

Mr Manturov, please.

Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Industry and trade Denis Manturov: Mr President, colleagues,

Today we are celebrating two major events for Russian shipbuilders. I would like to congratulate them, especially the personnel at the Baltic Shipyard. This is a substantial contribution to increasing our icebreaker fleet and strengthening the status of Russia as the only power with so many icebreakers.

The start of the Ural icebreaker’s year-round operation on the Northern Sea Route today and the launch of the icebreaker Yakutia, which is to be completed and will be commissioned in 2024, are evidence of the continuing build-up of the competencies we need to ensure the construction of our leading vessel, the 120 MW icebreaker Rossiya, which is being built at Zvezda Shipyard in the Primorye Territory.

Although our icebreaker fleet and vessels under construction are noted for an extremely high level of technological sovereignty, we have attracted the largest possible number of contractors and enterprises that produce shipboard equipment, as well as other shipyards under United Shipbuilding Corporation, to ensure the smooth and timely attainment of the tasks set to us by the President of Russia.

The construction of our icebreaker fleet and the addition of the fifth and sixth icebreakers in the group of 60 MW vessels was your decision, which we are implementing with your support. We will accomplish this without fail. This year, Rosatom will sign a contract with the Baltic Shipyard and a large group of related companies, which will ensure the uninterrupted construction of icebreakers.

Apart from the 60 MW nuclear-powered vessels and the 120 MW icebreaker, which is under construction, we are working with our potential clients – NOVATEK, Nornickel and Rosneft – to build diesel icebreakers, so that nuclear-powered vessels can be used for year-round navigation on the Northern Sea Route, while diesel icebreakers will be used in the Gulf of Ob.

Mr President, on behalf of our country’s shipbuilders, I would like to thank you for your tireless support and attention to this industry without which plans for building and developing infrastructure along the sea routes would be impossible to implement.

Thank you for your attention.

With that, I turn it over to USC CEO Alexei Rakhmanov.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Please go ahead, Mr Rakhmanov.

CEO of the United Shipbuilding Corporation Alexei Rakhmanov: Mr President,

The third serial-produced nuclear-powered icebreaker of the 22220 project, the Yakutia, was laid down at the Baltic Shipyard two and a half years ago right before the pandemic broke out. But the shipyard workers did a good job and reconfirmed their high professionalism. Thank you, colleagues for your good work.

Mr President, at your initiative, the USC and Rosatom are in the process of expanding our fleet of the world’s most powerful icebreakers. This project has opened long-term prospects for the shipbuilding industry, helped us bring back to life unique technology and competencies and create new jobs.

The Baltic Shipyard had just 3,000 employees in 2012, and today this number is up to 6,000. This is a great accomplishment for the team.

The USC shipbuilders have built 20 icebreakers and icebreaker class vessels over that time, which are now operating in the Arctic and northern latitudes. This is a tangible result of your decision made 15 years ago, Mr President, to establish the United Shipbuilding Corporation. The Rosatom corporation was created at the same time, and today the two corporations jointly ensure Russia’s technological sovereignty.

This icebreaker, which is about to be launched, has the nuclear reactors and most of the basic equipment already installed. The works to complete the icebreaker will be performed with the vessel afloat.

I wish USC workers every success in finishing their work and completing the order on schedule.

Mr President, according to shipbuilders’ tradition, each ship has a “godmother” who gives it her blessing for good fortune before it is launched into the water. Deputy Prime Minister Viktoria Abramchenko has the honour of being the Yakutia nuclear icebreaker’s godmother. Over to you.

Deputy Prime Minister Viktoria Abramchenko: Mr President, colleagues,

The nuclear icebreaker Yakutia is rising high before us. It is ready to be floated out. The construction will be completed in December 2024 as planned.

Russian nuclear icebreakers are unmatched in the world and are rightfully our national pride. Russian researchers, engineers and shipbuilders have used the best and the latest technical designs in this project.

Mr President, as the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the environment, I’d be remiss if I don’t mention the high environmental standards of the icebreakers in this series, the 22220 project. We operate ships of this class in the high latitudes, and the environment there needs to be handled with special care. The icebreakers in this series use waste-free technology meaning that the remote unit does not need to be replaced while the nuclear power unit remains operational.

Second, protection against ionising radiation is in place on the icebreaker, which blocks not only the radiation produced by the two reactors but solar radiation as well, meaning that the level of radiation inside the icebreaker is lower than natural background radiation.

Third, the volume of atmospheric emissions is critically important for the Arctic. The emissions from this series of icebreakers have been drastically reduced.

The Arctic is particularly sensitive to soot, or black carbon emissions of which the Yakutia emits only 500 grams per year. Compared to emissions from the typical coal-fired boiler house, these emissions are 100,000 times lower.

I would like to thank the engineers and shipbuilders who have made this formidable project possible.

I want to wish everyone good health and every success in your work, and the beautiful Yakutia speedy entry into service and seven feet under the keel.

Alexei Rakhmanov: Mr President,

The third serial-produced all-purpose nuclear icebreaker Yakutia, hull number 05709, Project 22220 is ready to be launched.

The act of acceptance has been signed. The launch team is in place. The trigger has been checked.

I need your permission to float the icebreaker.

Vladimir Putin: Permission granted. Go ahead.

Alexei Rakhmanov: Shipyard captain, check the water area.

Head of the slipway shop, check the trigger.

Cut the drag chain.

Mr President, the construction of Yakutia’s elder brother – nuclear-powered icebreaker Ural has also been completed at the Baltic Shipyard.

Allow me to give the floor to Director General of the Rosatom State Corporation Alexei Likhachev.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Likhachev, go ahead please.

Director General of the State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom Alexei Likhachev: Mr President, we welcome you from the helicopter pad of the Ural icebreaker and would like to first thank you for the decisions made in the interests of developing the icebreaker fleet.

Literally in two years, the number of nuclear-powered icebreakers increased from four to seven. In addition to the future contracts about which Mr Manturov reported to you, we are to build over 70 ice-class vessels – both with icebreaking capabilities and cargo ships – for exports and domestic shipping.

Mr President, this year we expect total cargo shipped on the Northern Sea Route to reach 34 million tonnes. This is two million tonnes more than the planned target under the relevant federal project for the Northern Sea Route. As for Russian cargo shipping, Russian shippers, it is some 800,000 tonnes higher than last year’s record total.

Following your instruction, the Government drafted and endorsed a plan for developing the Northern Sea Route until 2035. This is a strategic document that maps out the development of mega projects in the Arctic – projects of NOVATEK, Rosneft, Nornickel and the Baimskaya Ore Zone.

According to our estimates, by 2035, shipping along the Northern Sea Route will exceed 200 million tonnes; the aggregate macroeconomic effect will exceed 33 trillion rubles and tax revenues will be over 13 trillion rubles.

Mr President, upgrading the nuclear-powered icebreaking fleet is a key condition for the further development of the entire Arctic region.

Allow me to introduce to you some members of the crew from the new nuclear-powered icebreaker Ural.

Ivan Kurbatov ‒ the youngest nuclear icebreaker captain, 40 years old. Last February, the nuclear-powered icebreaker Arktika on which he was chief mate, conducted a unique, extremely late pilotage of small ice-class ships via the entire Northern Sea Route in both directions. Ice thickness reached three metres and only his expertise ensured that the right decisions were made.

Rosatom and Atomflot recognised the achievements of Mr Kurbatov. I am sure that Ivan Kurbatov will display all his leadership qualities as the captain of the new nuclear-powered icebreaker Ural.

Yevgeny Khodus, senior mechanical engineer of the ship, one of the most experienced Atomflot employees.

I am pleased to introduce to you Yekaterina Yemelyanova, operating engineer in charge of the Ural icebreaker’s nuclear power unit.

Mr President, the acceptance commission confirmed successful completion of sea trials by the new nuclear-powered icebreaker Ural. Rostekhnadzor approved the results and the crew has been formed.

I request your permission to raise the national flag of the Russian Federation on the new nuclear-powered icebreaker Ural.

Vladimir Putin: Permission granted.

Alexei Likhachev: Thank you very much.

Attention crew! Raise the national flag of the Russian Federation!

Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, friends,

What would I like to say in conclusion?

First, and this was just said by the head of Rosatom, together we made a timely decision to build a new icebreaker fleet to replace outgoing vessels and to reflect the growing importance and opportunities of the Northern Sea Route.

Smooth financing, restoration and upgrading of competences – scientific and engineering – in the sphere of special shipbuilding and nuclear power allow us to reaffirm Russia’s high technological status, make full use of existing production capacities and create new shipyards in such a vital region as the Far East. I am referring to the creation of the new large shipyard Zvezda. It is particularly important that these features allow us to build up Russia’s leadership along such important transport artery as the Northern Sea Route.

It was just said that in the near future the shipping volumes are expected to reach up to 200 million tonnes, and this is sure to happen considering the scale and growth of global trade. This is an enormous turnover.

In conclusion, I would like to again congratulate all those who are achieving such meaningful, tangible and vital results for our country. I am not even talking about the broader development of the Arctic or the fact that the future of our country largely depends on the progress in developing our northern regions. Just the development of this route is extremely important for our country at this moment, especially in view of the changing climate. In the near future, its importance will increase many times over. And so, I would like to thank all of you very much.

Of course, I would like to repeat again that we are ready for cooperation with all friendly nations, with all those who want to work with Russia. We know that there is great interest in taking part in this joint work.

Thank you for your work, for the results. I am sure that all plans will be fulfilled – the plans we mapped out with you before and the plans my colleagues have already spoken about today.


November 22, 2022, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region