Russia launches ‘combat icebreaker’ for the Arctic

The lead vessel of a new class of Russian ice-rated warships, the 8,500-ton ‘Ivan Papanin’, has been launched in St. Petersburg. When in service, she will help defend Russia’s interests in the Arctic region.

This latest addition to Russia’s Arctic military arsenal was launched on Friday at the port city’s Admiralty Shipyard. Dubbed ‘the combat icebreaker’ by some Russian media, she is of a newer design created for the Russian Navy and is, in her role and size, roughly a counterpart to the Norwegian Coast Guard’s ship ‘Svalbard.’

Work on the ‘Ivan Papanin’ began in April 2017 and the vessel is expected to be commissioned sometime in 2022 or 2023. The 114-meter-long warship can be used as a patrol ship, a tug or an icebreaker for other vessels. Her hull is strong enough to deal with ice up to 50cm thick.

She is armed with Kalibr cruise missiles and a 76.2mm naval gun., and also boasts a helipad, with a hangar for a reconnaissance helicopter and bays for two Raptor-class speedboats. It has a capacity for 50 mission crew, in addition to the sailors and officers manning the ship herself, and has an endurance of 60 days, with a range of 6,000 nautical miles.

The Russian military plans to use the multipurpose ship for patrols of its Arctic waters. Intercepted violators can be towed to port for detention with no external help. The ‘Ivan Papanin’ may also serve as a transport ship for sensitive military cargos or as a support ship in a battle group.

The Russian Navy already has a dedicated icebreaker, the ‘Ilya Muromets,’ which has been in service since last year. That ship, however, is unarmed.