Putin orders new safety system on the NSR

Elbrus, a Project 23120 ice-class logistics ship (L), and icebreaker Ilya Muromets at the main base of the Russian Navy's Northern Fleet. Credit: Lev Fedoseyev TASS via Getty Images

The Russian government has been instructed to create a new system of controlling cargo flows in the Arctic and ensure ship safety in the region.

President Vladimir Putin stipulated the decree titled ‘On the Basics of State Policy of the Russian Federation in Arctic for the period until 2035’, and signed it on 13 March 2020.

This would include research in the hydrometeorological, navigational, and hydrographic fields, plus the establishment of a fleet for year-round navigation on the Northern Sea Route (NSR). The fleet would consist of advanced ice-class merchant vessels and new nuclear-powered icebreakers, according to the decree.

By 2035, Russia intends to build at least 40 Arctic vessels, conduct a thorough modernisation of the four biggest airports in the region, and build several new seaports. The country is also set to put into operation three Lider-class icebreaker ships. According to the Russian United Shipbuilding Corporation, these vessels will be up to 200 m in length and 50 m wide. They will be capable of travelling at up to 13 kt and escorting ships with a deadweight of more than 100,000 tonnes through up to 4.5 m of ice, which is the maximum thickness in the Arctic.

Russian government agencies have also been instructed to design a new system of satellite monitoring for the Arctic, but gave no further details to its key purpose. The investment cost of the new programme is estimated at RUB15 trillion (USD180 billion).