Heat power plant. Illustration photo: Thomas Nilsen

10,000 people without heating at Arctic submarine base

Boiler at the central heating plant broke down in Zaozersk, the military town serving several of Russia’s nuclear powered submarines at the bases in Zapadnaya Litsa.
March 24, 2018

Temperatures are minus 10 degrees Celsius Saturday evening and the inhabitants in Zaozersk are without hot water and heating, FlashNord reports. The news-agency quotes a source in the town, but has not got any comments from the Ministry of Defense.

The town administration’s own portal has no information about when the boiler could be up-and-burning again.

Like most cities in northern Russia, also Zaozersk has a centralized heating system with a boiler house providing steam heat and hot water through pipelines to apartment blocks and municipal buildings.

Zaozersk is the hometown for the officers serving “Severodvinsk”, Russia’s most advanced multi-purpose submarine. Additionally, other submarines of the Oscar-II class are regularly based in Bolshaya Lopatka, one of the naval bases in Zapadnaya Litsa. Together with the officers are their families. The town is a so-called ZATO, a closed military administrative town where visitors must have special permission to enter.

Near the piers at the base Nerpitcha, also served by people living in Zaozersk, is one of the naval nuclear weapon storage sites on the Kola Peninsula, see satellite photos in this article published by the Barents Observer last year.  

The submarine “Severodvinsk” is one of the most expensive weapons’ carrier ever built in Russia. Photo: Sevmash.ru

This is the third time this winter that the boiler in the closed military town 120 kilometres west of Murmansk stops due to breakdown. In February, the Barents Observer reported about a breakdown, and regional news agency B-Port reported that the heating system in Zaozersk is “commonly breaking down.”

Murmansk Governor Marina Kovtun has criticised the town’s leaders for not ensuring enough fuel supplies to the heating plant. Boilers at the heating plants in the Murmansk region are fuelled by Mazut, a heavy low quality fuel oil containing high amounts of sulphur. Mazut is produced from the remains of raw oil processing and is sold at lower prices than most other fuel oils. 

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Zaozersk is the westernmost closed military towns serving Russia’s Northern Fleet on the Kola Peninsula. The base is most known from Soviet times when it was homeport to the six giant Typhoon submarines. Also, the “Komsomolets” that sank in the Norwegian Ocean in 1989 was based here.

Zaozersk is closed for all others than naval officers and their families or others with special permission to enter. The town is located to the north from the main road between Murmansk and the border to Norway. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

 

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