Nuclear-powered container carrier Sevmorput at port in Murmansk.Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Russia to launch nuclear-powered fish shipping around Scandinavia

The 30-years old container carrier “Sevmorput” is now being loaded with 200 refrigerated containers with fish at port in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy and will soon set sail for the Northern Sea Route and further south to St. Petersburg.
August 26, 2019


“This test-voyage with the container carrier gives hope that one time such deliveries will become regular,” says Kamchatka Governor Vladmir Ilyukhin in an interview with the region’s own portal.

The 200 containers are filled with frozen fish, fillets, caviar and other seafood, a total of 5,000 tons.

The voyage takes three weeks, of which the two first will be along the Northern Sea Route, north of Siberia.

This is the first time a Russian civilian nuclear-powered ship sails with cargo outside the coast of Norway. From the North Sea, “Sevmorput” will continue in the narrow waters between Sweden and Denmark, sailing through the Great Belt and into the Baltic Sea before final port call to St. Petersburg.

Rosatom confirmed the voyage in a tweet on Monday.

Sevmorput” is expected to cross the Barents Sea and sail outside Norway by the second week of September.

Then, the ship will sail back the same route and a second voyage will come in late October.


From Kamchatka, the “Sevmorput” will sail take the short-cut via the Arctic en route to St. Petersburg. Map: Barents Observer / Google Earth


Shipping of seafood from Russia’s Pacific region to St. Petersburg via the Arctic is done in cooperation between regional authorities in Kamchatka Krai, Norebo Group, Rosatom and the Ministry for Development of the Far East and the Arctic.

Norebo is an integrated group of companies of fishing, processing, trading and transporting of seafood in Northwest-Russia and Far East of Russia.

Negotiations have already started with aim to sail the same route next year as a regular operation.  

Sevmorput” (Russian for Northern Sea Route) is a one-of-a-kind nuclear-powered lighter- and container carrier. Originally commissioned in 1988, the vessel mostly stayed in port in Murmansk. In 2008, the ship was officially laid-up and in 2012 plans were presented to scrap it.

Operation until 2024 

In 2013, however, it was decided to do renovation and in autumn 2015, “Sevmorput” was again test-sailing the Barents Sea. The following year, the ship was back in normal operations and has since sailed with cargo along the north coast of Siberia and with supplies to Arctic military bases at Franz Josef Land and New Siberian Islands.

The ship can sail in up to 1-meter thick ice at a speed of about two knots, or at 20 knots in open water.

After the 2015 upgrades and safety evaluations the reactor’s service life was prolonged with 150,000 hours aimed at keeping the vessel in operation until 2024.

The single reactor is of the KLT-40M type, similar to the reactor powering the two icebreakers “Taymyr” and “Vaygach”.

The reactor core contains about 150 kilos of uranium and has been recharged only once.

You can read more about Russia’s developing of nuclear-powered ships, submarines, power-reactors and weapons in a scenario paper (.pdf) recently published by the Barents Observer. 

“By 2035, the Russian Arctic will be the most nuclearized waters on the planet.” the paper reads.

Rosatom in charge 

Vyasheslav Ruksha is Director of the Northern Sea Route Directorate. Here at port in Murmansk. Photo: Thomas Nilsen


With granting permission the nuclear-powered container ship to sail fish-product along the Northern Sea Route, Rosatom takes another strong hold on business development for Arctic Shipping.

The move comes after the state nuclear corporation by January 2019 was officially granted the leading role in development of the Russian Arctic. The company that employs more than 250,000 people and engages in a multitude of activities related to nuclear power development and production became the management authority for the Northern Sea Route as President Vladimir Putin on December 28th last year signed the law on the Northern Sea Route.

Director of the newly established Moscow-based Northern Sea Route Directorate, Vyasheslav Ruksha, was formerly head of Rosatomflot, which operates the nuclear-powered icebreakers, including the “Sevmorput” carrier in Murmansk. 


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