Our home for the 14 days was to be the newest addition to the Russian fleet - the largest, most sophisticated, and powerful icebreaker ever constructed. Twenty years in the making, 50 Years of Victory is the first Arktika-class icebreaker to have a spoon-shaped bow which creates extra splash to clear a wider channel for the commercial ships.
The ship has been designed with a 5 meters (18 feet) wide, 48 cm double layer stainless steel ice belt hull with a single skin stainless steel at the bow. She breaks through ice up to 2.8 meters (nearly 10 feet) thick. She has a U-shape cut out at the front that ‘shocks’ the ice to crack it and there is also a blade that cuts through large chunks of ice as they pass under the ship (you can hear a sudden bump when it cuts through a large piece). Water bubbles are used as a lubricant to push the ice away from the ship and also as bow thrusters to manoeuvre the ship when in dock. There are blades at the back, called ice horn, for reverse icebreaking. Also water can be moved between the front and back of the ship to ‘rock’ it free from hard ice.
She is driven by 2 nuclear reactors that produce 75,000 horsepower. In open water the top speed can be as much as 21.4 knots. She has exceptional manoeuvrability and is steered by the 3 screws (propellers) each with 4 fixed pitch blades on the drive shaft . The ship carries 4 spares which can be replaced at sea – they have sea-divers in the crew. The 50 Years of Victory has an endurance of 4-5 years before she needs refuelling with new uranium.
Water can be moved from areas in the back and front to rock the ship to loosen it from hard ice. Water bubbles are used as bow thrusters. There are 86 gigacounters on board and the radiation levels are safer than walking down a busy city street. There are over 30 security cameras.
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