"QUANTUM SHOT" #395(rev)
Link - article by Avi Abrams

Odyssey in the Arctic with the Russian Icebreaker Fleet

The nuclear-powered icebreakers were considered the symbol of Soviet technological power for many decades. Today this fleet is still used to aid ship navigation in the seas north of Siberia - but also for the purpose of elite tourism, which surely helps to pay the bills.

The most powerful of all icebreakers - "50 years of Victory" (one of six "Arktika" class)- has two nuclear reactors and is capable of reaching North Pole in just a couple of days.

"Vaigach" and "Taimyr"

Svetlana Bogdanova has recently returned from a very special trip on board the icebreaker "Vaigach" and provided us with these unique photographs. Thanks to her exclusive permission (including collection of photos from the seamen of the Murmansk Sea Shipping Company) we can now offer you a glimpse of what it really means to follow along the caravan of ships in the Northern seas, led by a colossal nuclear-powered vessel.

(top: nuclear icebreaker "Yamal", via)

Svetlana says: "A nuclear icebreaker almost feels alive, like a huge proud creature with a benevolent and dependable character. See it moving in the dark of night, projecting a powerful light ahead, making the snow sparkle in a misty path, feel it tremble under your feet... Its sheer immensity is inspiring, making one think of heroic exploration of unknown lands, the stuff that kids should be dreaming about".

"Vaigach" in the mist:

The blizzard is getting worse:

Unexpected Rescue:

This truck got in trouble on treacherous ice, so a professional team quickly comes up with a plan:

The journey resumes:

Breaking the way for a caravan of ships:

"30 Days of Night"...

Arriving into Dixon: a small town of about a thousand people -

Its population lives in the Arctic wasteland, enduring the most extreme climate. A significant part of Dixon has become a ghost town during Soviet years - and a series of ghastly buildings line up to haunt the endless night:

It's easy to start imagining vampires... but these buildings are long abandoned. Though one has to wonder about this cannon-looking thing left nearby:

Back to the Arctic trail

Serene and wonderfully wide-format views along the way - the Svalbard archipelago:

Franz Josef Land has some fascinating rock formations:

And mammoth fossils are simply everywhere, just lying around (left). On the right is an object that looks like a rusted bomb:

A day in the life of Murmansk Sea Shipping Company

A custom paint job looks aggressive on an icebreaker (appropriately enough):

Launching the deep sea research vessel (Bathysphere) "MIR-1":

Encountering some heavy seas:

"Yamal" towing the oil rig:

Land-based oil rigs are usually towed by a chain of tractors:

Staying in port for maintenance:

Here are Some of the Giants of the Arctic Fleet:

"Lenin" was the first Russian nuclear icebreaker, built in 1957. It looked imposing, but suffered two nuclear accidents while in operation till 1989, and now is being converted into a museum ship. Another milestone: "Arktika" became the first surface ship ever to reach the North Pole in 1977.

"50 Years of Victory" - is the largest, most powerful icebreaker ever constructed.

(image credit: Quark Expeditions)

This lid covers a nuclear reactor:

Nuclear reactor room:

117 meters in length, the "50 Years of Victory" has TWO nuclear reactors, develops around 500,000 horse power, and its huge steel ice belt 5 meters wide can easily break through ice up to 2.5 meters (9.2 feet) thick. (The "victory" in its name is the Russian people's victory over the Nazis in 1945)

And by the way, in case you're thinking that no ice can ever stop such behemoths, let me remind you that the nuclear icebreaker "Soviet Union" was trapped in ice for three days in 1998 (which is nothing compared to Mother Russia trapped in communism for 70 years)

Here is that "Soviet Union" ship -

The rest of 10 nuclear icebreakers are described in detail here.

Bears just wanna have... milk

Polar bears lead pretty eventful life: from "romantic" courtships to intense family squabbles:

However, if they spot a passing ship, they will drop everything and try to get closer, knowing exactly what they want.

>They will surely start begging for their most favorite treat - condensed sweetened milk in cans: (not healthy of course, but simply irresistible)

They try to stretch their meal: one can will keep a bear occupied for up to 3 hours. After they lick the can clean, they start to chew on it, like some sort of chewing gum - to get that last whiff of flavor.

Finally, to sleep with a full tummy:

Polar bear tracks:

Note: if price is no object, Quark Expeditions will offer you exclusive trips to the North Pole on board of these icebreakers.

Photos by Svetlana Bogdanova; seamen of the Murmansk Sea Shipping Company; awd.ru, used by exclusive permission, all rights reserved




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Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW! Incredible pictures. Makes me think of an expedition of an alien planet, or maybe of aliens exploring Earth...

The arctic ghost town and the mammoth bones (can that really be possible?) are also gems.

To save anyone else who was interested from having to search through the Quark site, prices for a 16 day trip on the "50 Years of Victory" this year start at $23k and go up to $33k!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

They will lose their jobs in a few years because of global warming :-Þ

Blogger HC said...

Wow,awesome pics, but they make me feel a little cold... ;-P

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no such thing as global warming.

It's a scam by the left to terrify the feeble minded.

You see any global warming in those pictures?

Blogger Unknown said...

I can see why you choose to stay anonymous...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice shots although I believe those are whale bones, not mammoth

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no such thing as global warming.

It's a scam by the left to terrify the feeble minded.

You see any global warming in those pictures?


Shut up and come back when you've done some research.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Among all the posts of Dark Roasted Blend, an absolutely great site, the frequent Russian posts are distinguished by their almost uniform excellence. Speaking just for myself, but I suspect many others too, I would love to see a specialized DRB "Best of Russia" site.

And please, let's stop name calling and rudeness not only on DRB, but all forums.

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Best of Russia, eh?
Probably worth a separate category... good idea.

Blogger Daniel said...

You sure about that 75000 horsepower figure? That seems rather low. A single 747 engine gets about twice that.

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

That's what quoted on "Quark" site. Wiki also mentions 171 megawatt output for each reactor.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nuclear-powered icebreakers? North Pole? Which travel agency I have to go to?

Blogger Homeless Diver said...

This is simply an amazing post. The photography is more than outstanding. Such huge icebreakers and sitting so low in the water.....2 nuke reactors on one ship.....WOW!

Blogger Bassem B. said...

Wow, that was one of the best post from the past few days (along with the radioactive mines exploration one.)

The part with the bears is so sweet! (pun)

Blogger Daniel said...

171 megawatts * 2 is much more reasonable!

171 megawatts = 229314 horsepower
2 * 171 megawatts = 458629 horsepower

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anonymous:

Sure, theres no such thing as global warming...

...And the earth is, of course, flat.

Hopefully, you got the sarcasm. Instead of mindlessly regurgitating a political line, perhaps educating yourself would be a good idea. (As its obvious your IQ score wouldn't even buy a candy bar).

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Global warming .. I agree with Mr Anonymous...this was the coldest Winter in 80 years for the entire globe. Maybe you should quit buying the party line and start doing some research. Back in the 1970's we were headed into a new ice age...everyone freaked out like you are now. Don't kid yourself, the planet is a lot bigger and has more staying power than you do/will.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great photos !!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a bunch of jerks for feeding the bears condensed milk in a can. Firstly, the bear runs a risk of choking to death, secondly, the metal can tear its mouth and internal organs to shreds, and lastly, must we pollute every nook and cranny on this bloody planet?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an amazing piece. Thank you very much for posting this.

There has been some global warming, just as there has been global cooling in the past and the cycles have continued since there has been an earth.

The new thing is the effort to blame any slight uptick trend on humans and the motivation is political, economic, and sociological because even if we were 100% to blame the situation could not be stopped, let alone reversed, without less than the entire world human population reverting to hunting/gathering and eschewing fire to cook the game--for hundreds of years. We might then see a tiny change of no significance.

It's the sun, stupid.

It's also global elites manipulating the masses to achieve goals that failed by other means.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous, you obviosuly have never had sweetened condensed milk. Giving it to the bears is the best thing that could ever have happened to them (the bears, I mean).

Anonymous Anonymous said...

$23K for two weeks on an icebreaker, hmm. I didn't know you could buy a ticket on an icebreaker at all. I'd love to hear if anyone knows about any cheaper ways to get a ride on an icebreaker.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't blame global warming,blame the icebrakers for loseing the part of the ice-cap on top of the world which help the global image of depleeting ice formation,slicing in a straight line to the North Pole...don't blame the hunters of the Arctic on polar bear depleation...
Those were not mammoth bones but Bow head whale bones...as usual false information...probiganda to blame the innocent habitants,shame...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is less known is that good share of Soviet-now-Russian icebreakers were done in Finland as part of their post-WWII retribution.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A skeptic of the global warming alarmists leaves a comment, and everyone starts hurling insults?

Did it ever occur to you that there are scientists who are skeptical of global warming? I guess you'll tell me that those are stupid scientists, simply because they don't believe what you think they should? Don't assume that anyone who disagrees is just ignorant.

For some valid arguments, and SCIENTIFIC DATA against the global warming scare, visit


Unless you're just too afraid that you might be wrong.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is also less known is that those MIR deep sea subs are both made in Finland. Based on the quality of the soviet/russian tech I presume that the only thing soviet that made its way to the north pole were the crews on board.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great pics, and I'm sure it was a thrill to feed the bears, but why did you give them a CAN? I'm sure that feeding them a can that will get chewed into sharp chunks of metal is a great way to help an endangered species. To the guy that said this was the best thing that ever happened to the bears; What the hell are you talking about? A slow painful death is good?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ya, about the milk. Why didn't they just freeze it on deck, cut it open then throw them the chunk of iced milk? Not like they had no means of freezing a can of condensed milk and I KNOW they had time. You'd think a crew of engineers would have a little more ingenuity. Those pictures are really great.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

have you ever stop for sec to think it could be possible that somone accildentally drop the can? jus maybe this friendly japanesse were drinking some in the edge of de ship to admire the viw and his wife in a lovely hug make him drope it? we most learn to see beyond our sight....golobal warming? who knows,most of the humans do nothing about serious problems such as disease, hungry nacions,etc...i guess you took that for granted....stop fighting and beeing disrespectful to others...do something about it.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously? You see one picture of ice and you say "How can there be global warming! Just look at this photo of ice!"

Wow. I'm completely blown away by the ignorance of the general public. First thing you learn when you study science is that a single datapoint means *nothing*. If you conduct an experiment and you only take one measurement, you *cannot* draw any conclusions from it. You must take multiple measurements, establish a trend, and then see if that trend confirms your hypothesis or not.

We have hundreds of years worth of climatological records that show an overall warming trend on the planet - one that increased suddenly as humans became industrialized.

Scientists don't look at a single picture of a desert and say "See! There's global warming!". That would be stupid, and we know better than that.

Too bad the general public doesn't.

Blogger Paul said...

I think more than fifty years of icebreaking is the cause of global warming!!!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For more amazing Russian content


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