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On October 25 St. Petersburg-based Admiralty Shipyards (part of the United shipbuilding corporation) launched IVAN PAPANIN, the first multipurpose patrol icebreaker of the Project 23550.

The vessel is the first in a series of two ships ordered by the Russian Navy. A contract for the construction of two Project 23550 multipurpose icebreakers was awarded by the Russian Ministry of Defense to Admiralty Shipyards in April 2016. The keel-laying ceremony was held in April 2017. The second icebreaker of this project – NIKOLAY ZUBOV – is planned to be keel-laid next year. Besides, Vyborg Shipyard (part of the United shipbuilding corporation) will manufacture two Project 23550 multipurpose icebreakers for Russian Border Guards.

The Project 23550 ship was developed by the Almaz Central Marine Design Bureau (part of the United shipbuilding corporation) to replace the military icebreakers of the Project 21180, of which only one icebreaker – ILYA MUROMETS – was built and handed over to the Navy.

The vessels are intended to perform Russian Navy’s missions such as monitoring and protection of Russian Arctic waters, rescue, escorting of ships in polar waters, transportation of special equipment, towing of ships in the port of detention, and maintenance and support for service vessels. IVAN PAPANIN class ships will also help in scientific research. The ships can also be used to offer protection for vessels operating in polar waters from air, sea and coastal targets.

Boris Leikis, chief designer of the project, called IVAN PAPANIN “a unique ship”, reminding that no other country in the world either develops or manufactures such a vessel which combines design features of combat ship and icebreaker. The vessel can operate independently to reach areas where other combat ships can’t without icebreaking escort.

The length of the new ship is about 100 m, width 20 m, displacement 8,500 tons. The vessels will be able to accommodate up to 60 crew members with an option to carry additional 50 people. It will have a speed of up to 16 knots and a range of up to 6,000 miles. It will be able to operate in the Arctic zone for up to 60 days.

The strengthened and reinforced hull of the ship is capable of breaking ice up to one and a half metres thick. Each vessel will be powered by two electric motors rated at 4,080 hp each. It will also be equipped with two bow thrusters and azipods to perform safe manoeuvres at sea. According to open sources, the warship will carry an AK-176MA artillery mount with a caliber of 76 mm, two boats of the RAPTOR Project, and Ka-27 naval helicopter.

Leikis also mentioned in his interview during the launching ceremony that Neptun Design bureau was currently developing the MANUL air cushion vessel which will be specially designed for IVAN PAPANIN class icebreakers and will be able to operate under -20°C temperature. There are also assumptions that the armament set will include Kalibr-NK anti-ship / anti-submarine / land-attack subsonic cruise missiles.

Yury Laskin