NavyRecognition is reporting Russia’s Coast Guard will deploy four new ships (apparently icebreakers) to exercise sovereignty in Arctic waters.
“Eleven border protection facilities are to be built in the Arctic, while automated surveillance systems are to be deployed in the area as part of the Russian Federation State Border Protection program for 2012-2020, an FSB representative said.“
More info here, including the location of the proposed infrastructure improvements:
An interesting and obviously Russian view of what is happening in the Arctic, but it generally accords with what I see as well: http://officerofthewatch.com/2014/02/20/russia-chooses-soft-approach-to-the-arctic/
More information on the growing contrast between Russian action and American inaction in the Arctic: http://en.ria.ru/military_news/20140422/189313169/Russia-to-Build-Network-of-Modern-Naval-Bases-in-Arctic—Putin.html
From Defense News
“Gorenburg said that in terms of concrete plans for expansion, most of the sea-based action is focused on the Coast Guard, a key piece of infrastructure if Moscow is going to successfully commercialize the North Sea route.
“Ten search-and-rescue stations are being constructed to supplement the existing 16 naval ports along Russia’s 22,000-kilometer Arctic coast.
“‘For the Northern operations of the Coast Guard of the Border Guard Service, large Project 22100 border patrol ships with a standard displacement of 2,700 tons are being built,’ said Mikhail Barabanov, a Russian navy and military expert at CAST.
“The first ship, PolyarnayaZvezda, was launched at the Zelenodolsk plant in May 2014.
“The Soviets built a large fleet of icebreakers, Gorenburg said, but most are set to retire in the early 2020s. ‘They have to basically rebuild their entire icebreaker fleet,’ he said. Russia plans on building three nuclear icebreakers and four diesel-powered.”
Russian build-up is raising questions about our own preparation. http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/2015/11/01/arctic-attracting-new-military-scrutiny/75001476/
“5 Ways Russia is Positioning to Dominate the Arctic”: http://www.internationalpolicydigest.org/2016/01/24/5-ways-russia-is-positioning-to-dominate-the-arctic/
Regarding #5, some pretty specialized Arctic tonnage has entered service this month and will be used (together with the sister ship still under construction) to transport modules for the Yamal LNG plant in Sabetta:
That ship is capable of sailing in 5 ft level ice without icebreaker escort. Also, less than 20 months from design to delivery is quite a feat for a first-of-its-kind ship.
Of course, since it’s a Dutch ship, after the Sabetta reliquefaction systems are in place, the same vessel could be used to carry construction materials year-round to some Arctic project in the Western hemisphere…
Oh yeah, and they did launch the first 980 ft long and 165 ft wide icebreaking LNG carrier few weeks ago as well:
With independent ice-going capability of nearly 7 ft of level ice, that’s the biggest icebreaker ever built. And there’ll be fourteen more in the coming years…
Point is, it’s not just conventional icebreakers that are entering service in the Russian Arctic (referring to #3), but a lot of specialized cargo ships that can do without them for most part of the year. Of course, it’s not military technology, but it frees icebreaker resources for other purposes.
Note these ships are built in China and S. Korea.
Some photos and more info on the LNG carriers being built in S. Korea here: http://gcaptain.com/2016/01/26/first-icebreaking-yamal-lng-carrier-launched-at-dsme/#.VqfPtiorLIU
The first icebreaker built for the Russian Navy in 40 years was delivered few days ago:
It’s a small-to-medium icebreaker reportedly “fitted for but not with” weapon systems (including that infamous containerized cruise missile system) and capability to carry marines. Personally, I see it as a naval auxiliary that can increase naval operability in both ends of the open water season with its escort icebreaking capability (towing notch and winch) and provide some added capability for e.g. rescue and salvage operations (cranes and specialized equipment). The continuous icebreaking capability is about 1 m (3′) while the 1.5 m (5′) cited in the article refers to the level of structural strengthening.
On photograph #5, you can see the hull of the nuclear-powered icebreaker Sibir under construction, and #10 shows 22,000-ton diesel-electric icebreaker Viktor Chernomyrdin (left) and 30,000+ ton nuclear-powered icebreaker Arktika (right) under construction. These are real polar icebreakers. However, both are considerably behind schedule. The rightmost red structure with a yellow stripe is the new floating nuclear power plant they intend to tow to the Arctic in the coming years.
Russian militarization of the Arctic may have slowed due to economic difficulties. http://cimsec.org/russias-arctic-ambitions-held-back-economic-troubles/35590