This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Russia’s nuclear-powered icebreaker Arktika, said to be the world’s biggest and most powerful, has returned to St. Petersburg after a two-day test run.
Arktika, ordered by state nuclear company Rosatom and meant to transport liquefied natural gas from the Arctic, is 173 meters long and 15 meters high.
The run tested the vessel’s functioning and maneuverability, said Mustafa Kashka, general director of Atomflot, the company which runs Russia’s icebreaking fleet.
However, the nuclear-propelled ship, which can supposedly break through almost 3 meters of ice, was fueled by diesel oil on its maiden voyage.
Inaugurated in 2016, Arktika is the first vessel in a project aimed at allowing year-round navigation in the Northeast Passage — a sea route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans traversing the Arctic following Russia’s coast.
The Arctic holds huge oil and natural-gas reserves that are being eyed by Russia and other countries, including the United States, Canada, and Norway.
The plan will also make it easier for Russia to deliver hydrocarbons to Southeast Asia.
The final tests for Arktika are scheduled for March and April and it is set to start operating in May.
Two other similar vessels — the Ural and the Sibir — are under construction.