More on Russian Icebreakers

The nuclear-powered icebreaker Arktika in the Kara Sea. RIA Novosti archive, image #186141

The nuclear-powered icebreaker Arktika in the Kara Sea. RIA Novosti archive, image #186141

UPI has a post on Russia’s expanding presence in the Arctic. This of course got into their icebreaker building program and a couple of paragraphs caught my eye.

“‘One more vessel of this project is under construction, and there are plans to develop an even larger icebreaker,” Kozyulin said. “She will be designated LK-110Ya Lider, and will have an ice speed of 14 knots [about 15 mph], against the Arktika’s 6 knots.”

“The new icebreaker will be designed to clear passages in ice up to 150 feet wide. “Thanks to her broad hull capable of breaking ice up to 4.4 m thick, the Lider will ensure safe navigation of large vessels along the Northern Sea Route all year round,” Kozyulin added.”

And this one in particular,

Project 10520 icebreakers can also be converted into naval cruisers. The Sovetskiy Soyuz constantly carries part of the equipment necessary to do so; the rest is kept at a ground base.

This does refer to the older class, and they do not make the same claim about the new ships. The term cruiser does not necessarily carry the same meaning for the Russian press it does for US naval audiences.

7 thoughts on “More on Russian Icebreakers

  1. Indeed, what is the literal translation of “cruiser”? Chances are it means it can be lightly armed with a few MGs and manpad firing platforms, and have additional sensors, consoles, office and equipment spaces installed, which would turn it into a workable and respectable OPV.

    Given the context, “cruiser” doesn’t mean it can be converted into a light frigate with large calibre gun and AAW system, and not a task force command ship that can orchestrate the movements of a carrier battle group!

    Possibly a better translation would be “maritime police cruiser”.

    • Russians don’t tend to use the same terms used in the West. It does seem to indicate they are designed to be upgunned to some extent, probably not as OPVs because that is essentially a peacetime function, but as at least a type of warship.

      Originally a cruiser was a warship smaller than a battleship, but large enough to operate independently. The term covered a huge range of sizes. I’ve avocated a return to that definition as a generic term for surface warships that are not amphibs or carriers, since cruisers have virtually disappeared.

      Only Russia, Peru ( and the US have ships that the West recognize as Cruisers.

      • Lyle, It is a bit of a mix The British now classify AAW specialist ships as Destroyers and ASW specialist ships as frigates. It wasn’t always that way. They had AAW frigates built in the 50s. Destroyers were general purpose ships with good AAW, ASW, and ASuW.

        Europeans generally classify all their warships as frigates and they have no destroyers because of the political conotaton that frigates are more economical. Some of the smaller European warships are classed as corvettes, but you never see an American or British ship classified as a corvette, although the LCS meet most of the definition for a Corvette.

        In any one generation, the US Navy will classify the larger warships as destroyers and the smaller ones as frigates. Cruisers have to be exceptional in size and capability, but we have seen destroyers overtake the Tyconderoga class cruisers in size. I have begun to doubt if we will ever see another class of USN “cruisers” just perpetually larger destroyers.

  2. The older Arktika-class nuclear-powered icebreakers were fitted with fire-control radars and had provisions for installing deck guns. For example, Sibir has been seen boasting at least one deck gun (likely 76.2 mm AK-176) and at least four CIWS turrents (likely 6×30 mm AK-630):

    However, the older Arktika does not have provisions for the CIWS turrents; instead, it looks like the armament on the foredeck used to consist of two deck guns:

    Anyway, these weapons systems were only installed and tested during sea trials, and they were normally stored ashore while the vessel was carrying out civilian escort missions. The last two Arktika-class icebreakers, Yamal and 50 Let Pobedy, do not have visible gun mounts on their decks and I seriously doubt any such military hardware was reserved for these ships. After the decommissioning of Arktika, Sibir, Rossiya and Sovietskiy Soyuz, there are – to my knowledge – no armed icebreakers in service or under construction in Russia. The Taymyr-class were purely civilian ships and I found no trace of any provisions for ship-mounted weapons systems in the LK-60/Project 22220 icebreakers.

    Of course, there are many modular systems ranging from MANPADS to containerized cruise missiles that can be wielded, should it become necessary to arm probably the worst weapons platform ever built…

  3. Speaking of Russian icebreakers in general, another one was launched on 30th of December:

    The 22,000 ton, 33,500 hp diesel-electric Project 22600 icebreaker Viktor Chernomyrdin was initially expected to be in service by 2015, but the delivery is now delayed until 2018.

  4. Yet another icebreaker under construction for the Russian Navy:

    The following data is missing from the English-language article: draft (4.6 m) and speed in 1 m thick ice (2 knots), autonomy (30 days) and range (7600 miles).

    Better rendering of Project 21180M can be found here:–vspomogatelnyj-ledokol-proekta-21180.6703.html#p6964717

    The vessel, “Yevpaty Kolovrat” (I’m never going to remember that), is a smaller and likely cheaper version of the 2017-built, 6000-ton Project 21180 vessel “Ilya Muromets”:

    I’d expect both vessels to operate primarily in auxiliary role in home waters.

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