Nuclear Navy: “The Atom Goes to Sea” 1954 General Electric 12min – YouTube

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“Explains how an atomic powered submarine operates. Includes scenes at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in Schenectady and the submarine reactor test site at West Milton, New York.”

Public domain film from the National Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.

The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).

via Nuclear Navy: “The Atom Goes to Sea” 1954 General Electric 12min – YouTube.

Nuclear icebreaker Lenin – Bellona

The world’s first nuclear icebreaker Lenin was in operation from 1959 until 1989. During that time, there have been two seriuos accidents onboard.

Bellona, 20/06-2003

The first nuclear propulsion unit (OK-150) on Lenin had three identical pressurised water reactors (PWR) with a maximum heat output of 90 MWt. The shaft power was 44 ,000 horsepower. Enriched uranium was used as fuel (the content of U-235 was equivalent 85 kg), and distillate water was used as a moderator and for heat transfer.The reactor core was 1.6 meters high and measured one meter in diameter.The core consisted of 7,704 fuel pins in 219 fuel assemblies.

There have been two accidents onboard the nuclear powered icebreaker Lenin. The first took place in February 1965, when Lenin was undergoing repairs and refuelling. The vessel sustained severe mechanical damages to the fuel assemblies, some of which were broken in two pieces, and were detected during the unloading of fuel from reactor number two. About 95 spent nuclear fuel assemblies were transferred to the nuclear service ship Lepse and unloading was halted after that.

After investigations as to why the spent nuclear fuel assemblies were deformed, it was established that the nuclear reactor operators had made an error that left the reactor core without cooling water. The partial deformation of the fuel assemblies had occurred due to overheating of the reactor core. About 60% of the assemblies were damaged.

The decision was made to unload the remaining 124 spent nuclear fuel assemblies together with the neutron absorbing rods and control grid.

A special cask was built onshore to implement this operation. A part of the reactor containing spent nuclear fuel (SNF) was placed into the cask and filled with furfurolbased solidifying matter. This cask was then stored for two years. In 1967, it was reloaded onto a pontoon, towed by a tug to the eastern coast of the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago and dumped in Tsivolki Bay.

The second accident aboard the Lenin took place in 1967, when the pipe system of the third circuit sprung a leak following the loading of fresh nuclear fuel. In this instance it was necessary to open the biological shield of the reactor compartment in order to locate the leakage. This protection was made of concrete mixed with metal shavings and it required the use of sledgehammers to break through the shield.This led to further damage of the reactor installation. Upon later examination, it became clear that it would be impossible to repair the damage incurred to the reactor installation by the sledghammers.

via Nuclear icebreaker Lenin – Bellona.


Two once-doomed California gray whales splashed with new life Wednesday as a pair of powerful Soviet icebreakers leading a massive rescue effort bashed through the last frozen barrier to their escape to the open sea.

“The whales are ready to get out of there,” said Cindy Lowry of Greenpeace as the two Soviet icebreaking ships cracked their way through the wall of ice at the edge of the arctic floe trapping the two young giant mammals.The whales, whose dramatic plight has set off an extravagant international rescue effort in the icy arctic, responded by vigorously swimming around their latest breathing hole.

“They are swimming up and down, really energetic,” Lowry said. She said the whales were “so active they were causing waves.”

The 20,241-pound Admiral Makarov, an 11-story icebreaker, and the 13,514-ton Vladimir Arseniev, an icebreaking cargo vessel flying an American flag alongside the hammer and sickle of the Soviet Union, began their attack on the icy ridge Tuesday afternoon.

They moved through the ice with such force that Lowry and another Greenpeace member keeping an all-night vigil beside the whales were afraid the huge icebreakers would plow right into them. But the threat turned out to be illusory.

The Soviets battered their way through the ice until 3 a.m. Alaska Daylight Time (5 a.m. MDT), getting within a half-mile to a mile of the whales.

Other rescue teams planned to fire up the 11-ton one-of-a-kind Archimedean screw tractor sometime after the Alaska sunrise to finish clearing a 16-foot-wide path for the whales to a 220-mile channel that will eventually take them to the open sea. The tractor’s pontoons are equipped with screw-like ridges that cut through the ice.


Cold War Ending for Soviet Icebreakers : Tourism: Soviets offer sightseeing trips to North Pole and hope to guide Western cargo ships through the frozen Arctic. – Los Angeles Times

MURMANSK, Soviet Union — Travelers wanting to witness an offbeat ending of the Cold War can book a trip to the North Pole on a Soviet nuclear-powered icebreaker.

The icebreakers, rarely seen in the West except on spy-satellite photographs, are starting sightseeing trips to the pole and may soon be guiding convoys of Western cargo ships through the Arctic wilderness.

via Cold War Ending for Soviet Icebreakers : Tourism: Soviets offer sightseeing trips to North Pole and hope to guide Western cargo ships through the frozen Arctic. – Los Angeles Times.

Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project | History | Early Soviet Exploration

Early Soviet Exploration (1920s-1930s)

The rapidly growing fleet of Soviet icebreaking vessels was also opening up the Arctic. The icebreaking steamer Sedov was used on two research expeditions in 1929 and 1930, headed by O. Schmidt. The first year, a polar station on Frantz Josef Land was established where Georgy Sedov had wintered, becoming the world’s most northern settlement. The next year, another station was located on Domashniy Island near the western coast of Severnaya Zemlya. From 1930 to 1932 a special expedition determined that the archipelago of Severnaya Zemlya consisted of four larger and a number of minor islands, filling in the last “white spots” on the map of the Arctic.

To join the western and eastern legs of the Northern Sea Route and make a regular working transport way from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, the Chief Administration of the Northern Sea Route was established in 1932, and more polar stations and observatories were created. The first passage through the Northern Sea Route during one navigation was performed by the icebreaking steamer Sibiriakov, organized by the All-Union Arctic Institute (presently known as the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute). The Sibiriakov sailed from Archangelsk, crossed the Kara Sea and chose a northern, unexplored way around Severnaya Zemlya to the Laptev Sea. In September the propeller shaft broke, the icebreaker drifted for 11 days, and using sails arrived in the Bering Strait in October completing the first successful crossing of the Northern Sea Route during a single navigation without wintering.

In 1933 the second sailing from Murmansk to the Pacific Ocean was undertaken by the icebreaking steamer Cheluskin. There she was taken by the current northward through Bering Strait, trapped in the Chukchi Sea pack ice, and crushed and sank. The expedition members escaped to the ice, organized a camp, and were rescued with the help of aircraft. The icebreaker Litke first navigated along the Northern Sea Route without accident from Vladivostok to Murmansk in 1934. In 1935 the first commercial cruises were carried out by two cargo steamers each way between Murmansk and Vladivostok, proving the practical possibility of safe navigation in the Arctic seas. Gradually the Northern Sea Route was supplied with more powerful icebreakers and reliable radio communication, new ports were founded along the coast, and the network of polar stations increased.

via Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project | History | Early Soviet Exploration.

Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project | History | 20th Century Icebreakers


Icebreakers (20th century)

Advances in shipbuilding technology resulted in the creation of the icebreaker, a vessel strong enough to not only withstand the crushing power of the ice, but to break through it. This technology finally opened most of the ice covered Arctic Ocean to military, scientific and commercial interests. In Russia, Britnev is believed to have proposed in 1864 the characteristic bow shape that is now used by all icebreakers. The first notable icebreaker was the Pilot (1870), used to maintain communication between Kronstadt and St. Petersburg. Naval Commander Makarov is credited with the construction of the Yermak, the first true icebreaker, which reached 81°21’N north of Spitsbergen on her maiden voyage in 1899, and 83°06’N nearly 40 years later. In 1916, the first linear icebreaker aimed at support of regular navigation along the northern coast of Russia was built in Newcastle, England by order of Russian Maritime Ministry, and named the Krasin. This icebreaker operated for many years in the Arctic and was a crucial component in the development of the Northern Sea Route (Northeast Passage).

In 1921, the Floating Marine Institute in the USSR was founded for multi-disciplinary study of the Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas, rivers, islands and coastal areas. Its first cruise was carried out on the icebreaking steamer Malygin. Later, a new special vessel Persei was built in Arkhangelsk. In the eastern sector of the Arctic, regular steamer cruises from Vladivostok to Kolyma commenced, and in 1927, ships from Vladivostok came to Tiksi in the Laptev Sea and even the Lena River. In 1928, Krasin reached the ice camp of the Italian airman Nobile and took part in the rescue. The icebreaking steamer Malygin approached the camp from the southeast and carried out valuable scientific observations in the northern part of the Barents Sea. Icebreaking steamer Sedov explored the western and southern part of Frantz Josef Land. The first nuclear powered icebreaker, Lenin, was built in 1959 at Admiralty Shipyard, Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). The most powerful nuclear icebreaker in the world was the Soviet Arctika. It was the first surface ship to reach the North Pole in 1977.

via Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project | History | 20th Century Icebreakers.

Dark Roasted Blend: Russian Nuclear Icebreakers: to the North Pole!

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.

via Dark Roasted Blend: Russian Nuclear Icebreakers: to the North Pole!.