The "Severny Polyus" might be sent on a two-year expedition before proper sea-trials. Photo:

Maiden voyage of Arctic platform could turn into 2 year ice odyssey

It was planned to be a few-months testing of a brand new vessel in Arctic sea-ice. But the sea trial of the "Severny Polyus" could now be extended with more than a year.
March 27, 2023


According to Igor Shumakov, Head of Russia’s meteorological institute Roshydromet, the ongoing test expedition of research vessel Severny Polyus could be extended with another year.

“The decision to stay or not to stay for a second year has not yet been taken, but it is technically fully possible,” Shumakov told state news agency RIA Novosti.

The “Severny Polyus” had by the 23rd of March drifted far westwards. Map by Roshydromet

The Severny Polyus in the beginning of September 2022 left the Admiralty Yard in St.Petersburg and set course for Murmansk. It shortly later headed towards icy waters. In the morning of the 2nd of October, it moored to an ice floe located north of the New Siberian Islands and started drifting towards the Greenland Sea.

The original main purpose of the ongoing voyage was to test key equipment, and the ship was to return to St.Petersburg in course of summer. 

That scheme might now change, and the bathtub-shaped vessel might ultimately stay in the ice for another year without proper prior testing.

Igor Shumakov underlines that the crew is carefully monitoring the way the ship behaves in the ice.

“So far, we have no serious  complaints to the shipbuilders, and if we get any, we will probably just leave them.”


“That will be economically more favourable,” he explains.

According to the leader of Roshydromet, the Severny Polyus already has sufficient fuel and provisions on board for another year of expedition.


The Severny Polyus Arctic research vessel is the world’s first ship of its kind. It was built in short time at the Admiralty Yard in St.Petersburg. Photo:


The 83 meter long vessel is designed and built for up to 2 years long autonomous expeditions in the sea-ice.

The Severny Polyus is capable of undertaking geological, acoustic, geophysical and marine research under the harshest of Arctic conditions. Even in temperatures down to minus 50°C it is believed to be able to provide comfortable living and working conditions for researchers and crew.

On board are 15 labs where researchers can work year-round.

The research platform replaces Russia’s Arctic expeditions based on ice floes organised since the 1930s. The quickly vanishing Arctic sea-ice has made it increasingly hard to organise the expeditions and last real ice station, the “North Pole-40”, was held in the winter of 2012.

Albeit built for research purposes, the vessel could ultimately also be applied by the Russian military. The country’s new Marine Doctrine includes a high stress on use of civilian ships and infrastructure for military purposes. That could include not only trawler and icebreakers, but also the Severniy Polus.




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