Ahead of meeting with Kim Jong Un, Putin praises Soviet Politburo leader at naming ceremony for Arctic tankers
There was festivity on the waterfront of the Zvezda yard in Vladivostok as Vladimir Putin this week came to a naming ceremony for two new Arctic tankers.
The visit to the Russian far east came in connection with the Eastern Economic Forum, as well as Putin’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
One of the vessels, a 300 meter long LNG carrier, is named Aleksei Kosygin after the powerful Communist leader that for more than three decades held top posts in the Soviet Union.
Kosygin became known as a pragmatic and moderate reformist. He was member of the Politburo, the Communist Party’s highest policy-making authority, until his death in 1980.
“He was a man that gave a major contribution to the development of the Far East, all of the country, its economy and key industries, and he was a gifted organiser during the Great Patriotic War,” Putin said in a speech delivered in front of the ship that now carries Kosygin’s name.
In the same ceremony, also a new oil tanker was officially given a name. The Valentin Pikul is 257 meter long and has a deadweight of 69,000 tons. It has ice class Arc6 and is designed for shuttling to Rosneft’s new Arctic oil project Vostok Oil.
The ship is named after the Soviet historical novelist that is known for fictional characters and nationalistic themes. Pikul spent parts of his childhood in Molotovsk, the north Russian town that today is called Severodvinsk, and wrote extensively about the Second World War.
During his visit, Putin was accompanied by deputy Prime Minister Yuri Trutnev, and he was shown around on site by Igor Sechin, the leader of Rosneft.
The latter was a key figure behind the decision to develop the shipyard that today is Russia’s biggest. Since its establishment in 2015, the Zvezda has taken on a significant number of construction orders on Arctic tankers, LNG carriers and icebreakers.
A major part of the yard’s current order books includes carriers for Novatek’s Arctic LNG 2 project and Rosneft’s Vostok Oil.
Igor Sechin was keen to promote his Vostok Oil to state leader Putin.
“One of the competitive advantages of the Vostok Oil project is a unique geography. Thanks to a direct access to the waters of the Northern Sea Route, the raw materials can in the shortest possible time reach the most perspective markets,” he explained.
According to the oil company leader, at least 50 new icebreakers and transport vessels need to be built to facilitate logistics on the Northern Sea Route.
“In this respect, a key role is played by the Zvezda,” he underlined.
Putin appeared to fully agree with his long-time partner.
“The development of this kind of fleet plays a huge role for our country, which is a great Arctic power, and is needed for the fulfilment of our long-term strategy on the development of the Arctic, for the reliable shipments on the Northern Sea Route, global transport and logistics routes, and the strengthening of energy security for our country and all of the world,” Putin said.