Kapitan Khlebnikov (icebreaker)

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Icebreaker and penguins.jpg
Kapitan Khlebnikov and penguins in the Ross Sea, Antarctica.
Naval Ensign of Russia.svgRussia
Name: Kapitan Khlebnikov
Namesake: Yury Khlebnikov (1900–76)
Operator: Quark Expeditions
Route: Arctic and Antarctic cruising
Builder: Wärtsilä Helsinki shipyard, Finland
Launched: 1981
Homeport: Vladivostok
Fate: in service
Notes: [2][3]
General characteristics
Class and type: Icebreaker
Displacement: 12,288 tons
Length: 122.50 m
Beam: 26.50 m
Draught: 8.50 m
Ice class: KM * LL3 [2] А2 passenger
Installed power: Main engines: 6 diesel sets producing 24,200 horsepower (18.5MW)
Propulsion: 3 twin DC electric motors each turning a 22m long propeller shaft to which is attached a 4 bladed 4.3 m diameter propeller with hardened steel blades. Blades can be changed at sea in the event of damage.
  • 14 knots in open water
  • Max speed: 19 knots
Complement: Guests: 108
Crew: Staff & Crew: 70
Aircraft carried: Two helicopters are carried to help with navigation in ice and for tourist trips.
Aviation facilities: Hangars

The Kapitan Khlebnikov (Russian: Капита́н Хле́бников, IPA: [kəpʲɪˈtan ˈxlʲɛbnʲɪkəf]) is a Russian (formerly Soviet) icebreaker. The vessel now operates as a cruise ship offering excursions to the Arctic and Antarctic.


The Kapitan Khlebnikov was completed in Finland in 1981[3] as one of four Kapitan Sorokin class icebreakers. She was refitted in 1990 as a tour ship.[4] and was the first ship to circumnavigate Antarctica with passengers in 1996-97.[5]

In February 2006 the Kapitan Khlebnikov reached the Bay of Whales in the Antarctic, reaching 78° 40.871' south and equalling the record set by Roald Amundsen in the Fram in 1911.[6]

In November 2009, the ship was briefly stuck in a bay near to Snow Hill Island whilst carrying tourists and a BBC film crew. The ship was placed a few days behind schedule but not endangered.[7]

Construction and layout[edit]

A polar-class icebreaker, combining power and technology with creature comforts, Kapitan Khlebnikov was originally designed for the rigors of the Arctic Ocean.[2] The vessel has twin decks with superstructure and engine room in the middle, an icebreaker bow and transom stern.[3] The stern region is cushioned to allow for the close towing of other vessels when helping them through the ice.

Passenger accommodation is in 54 cabins and suites, with 2 dining rooms, a lounge and bar. Facilities include a heated indoor swimming pool, exercise room and sauna, theatre-style auditorium and shop. The library has a collection of polar-themed books.[2]

The double hull has water ballast between, with pumps that can move ballast water at up to 74 tonnes a minute to aid ice breaking. The hull thickness is 45 mm at the ice skirt and 25–35 mm elsewhere. Friction between the ship and the ice is reduced by a polymer-paint coating at the level of the ice skirt. An air bubbling system helps ice breaking. Air can be forced under pressure from 2 m above the keel from the bow to halfway down the ship.[4]


Icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov in Arctic

In addition to charters for scientific missions, and for supplying mines and other resource exploitation industries, the vessel is chartered for adventure cruises.[8]

Stuck in the ice[edit]

The Kapitan Khlebnikov was trapped in Antarctic ice in mid November 2009.[9][10] The Guardian reports that 101 passengers, mainly United Kingdom citizens, were among the 184 trapped ship's complement. The excursion was called the "Emperor Penguin Safari", and was arranged by an adventure travel firm called "Exodus". Three of the UK passengers were a BBC film crew, working on a documentary. The documentary, entitled "Frozen Planet", was broadcast in 2011.

See also[edit]

She is one of four large icebreakers operated by the Far East Shipping Company:


  1. ^ "ISP Fleet Information".
  2. ^ a b c "Kapitan Khlebnikov: Icebreaker". Quark Expeditions. Retrieved 20 July 2008.
  3. ^ a b c "FESCO vessels: Kapitan Khlebnikov". Fesco Transport Group. Retrieved 20 July 2008.
  4. ^ a b "Kapitan Khlebnikov, a conventionally powered ice breaker". Cool Antarctica. Archived from the original on 26 May 2008. Retrieved 20 July 2008.
  5. ^ "Kapitan Khlebnikov". Ocean Adventures. Retrieved 20 July 2008.
  6. ^ World, Discover the. "Adventure Holidays & Tailor Made Trips". Discover the World.
  7. ^ "Ice-trapped Britons on move again". BBC News Online. 17 November 2009. Retrieved 17 November 2009.
  8. ^ Stephen Hartshorne (2008). "Sailing the Historic Northwest Passage in a Polar-Class Icebreaker". Go Nomad. Retrieved 4 March 2008.
  9. ^ Haroon Siddique (17 November 2009). "Ship heads for port after being stranded in Antarctic ice". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 17 November 2009.
  10. ^ "'Penguin tourists' trapped by Antarctic sea ice Icebreaker's owner says 100 passengers need not worry". Canada.com. 17 November 2009. Archived from the original on 18 November 2009.

External links[edit]