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Sevmorput croptight.jpg
Sevmorput docked at Atomflot, Murmansk, in 2007.
Name: Sevmorput (Севморпуть)
Namesake: Severny Morskoy Put
Owner: Russian Federation
Port of registry: Murmansk,  Russia
Ordered: 30 May 1978
Builder: Zaliv Shipyard, Kerch, Ukrainian SSR
Cost: US$265 million
Yard number: 401
Laid down: 1 June 1982
Launched: 20 February 1986
Commissioned: 31 December 1988
In service: 1988–2007, 2016–present
Status: In service
General characteristics
Type: LASH carrier/container ship
Displacement: 61,880 tons (summer)[1]
Length: 260.30 m (854.0 ft)
Beam: 32.20 m (105.6 ft)
  • 11.80 m (38.7 ft) (summer)
  • 10.65 m (34.9 ft) (Arctic)
Depth: 18.30 m (60.0 ft)
Ice class:
  • RMRS ULA (1981 rules)
  • RMRS UL (current)
Installed power: KLT-40 nuclear reactor (135 MW)
  • Single shaft; steam turbine (29,420 kW)
  • 4-bladed ducted CPP (⌀ 6.7 m)
  • 20.8 knots (38.5 km/h; 23.9 mph) (10 m (33 ft) draught, full power)
  • 2 knots (3.7 km/h; 2.3 mph) in 1 m (3.3 ft) level ice

Sevmorput (Russian: Севморпуть, IPA: [sʲɪvmɐrˈputʲ]) is a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaking LASH carrier and container ship. Named after the Northern Sea Route (Russian: Северный Морской Путь, Severny Morskoy Put), the 1988-built ship is one of only four nuclear-powered merchant ships ever built. After having been laid up in Murmansk for years awaiting disposal, the vessel was extensively refitted and returned to service in 2016.[2][3][4]


Development and construction[edit]

The history of Sevmorput dates back to a joint decision by the Ministry of the Merchant Marine (MORFLOT) and the Ministry of Shipbuilding Industry of the Soviet Union, No C-13/01360, which was signed on 30 May 1978.[5] Following the development of heavy industry in the northern parts of the country, particularly around Norilsk, a reliable transportation method was needed to guarantee year-round shipments of cargo and supplies to and from the northern communities. Experiences from the nuclear icebreakers operating on the Northern Sea Route since the mid-1950s had shown the advantages of nuclear marine propulsion in the freezing waters of the Russian Arctic. Thus a decision was made to construct a new icebreaking LASH carrier, capable of serving high-volume shallow ports, that was powered by a nuclear reactor.[1][6] The ship was designed by the Baltsudoproect Central Design Bureau.[7]

The keel of "Project 10081" was laid on 1 June 1982 at Zaliv Shipyard in Kerch, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.[1] She was launched on 20 February 1986 and delivered to state-owned Murmansk Shipping Company (MSCO) on 31 December 1988.[1][8] After leaving the shipyard Sevmorput sailed through the Mediterranean and around Africa until finally reaching the Soviet Far East.[9]

The overall price of the nuclear-powered cargo ship was reported to be around US$265 million.[9]


After entering service Sevmorput was denied entry to four major ports in the Soviet Far East. Authorities in Nakhodka, Vostochny, Magadan and Vladivostok refused to accept the two-month-old ship into their ports due to popular protests. In addition the harbour workers also refused to load or unload any cargo or provide any port services due to fears of radiation leakage. This was caused by uncertainty about the safety of the ship's nuclear propulsion system and the shadow of the Chernobyl disaster only few years earlier. The local newspapers had also reported a four-minute emergency on board the nuclear icebreaker Rossiya only a week before the arrival of Sevmorput.[9] The ship was finally allowed to dock at Vladivostok on 13 March 1989.[6]

The initial plan was to utilize Sevmorput in international transport, and the Soviet government applied for a permission to have the ship make several stops in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in March 1990. However, the permission was denied because the evacuation and emergency response measures of the city were not deemed adequate in case of an accident involving the ship's nuclear reactor. Later the ship was mainly used on the Murmansk-Dudinka route, but also made several trips to Vietnam in the early 1990s.[6] The daily operating expenses of Sevmorput were reportedly around US$90,000 and she was not expected to make profit during the first two years of her career.[9]

In the late 1990s, Sevmorput was laid up in Murmansk due to delays in the refueling of her reactor.[10] The refueling finally took place in 2001 and later the ship resumed service on the Dudinka route.[6]

In August 2007, it was reported that Sevmorput would be converted into the world's first nuclear-powered drillship due to lack of demand for cargo operators for lighters and the need of specialized drilling vessels in the Russian Arctic. The conversion at the Zvezdochka plant in Severodvinsk was to take only 18 months.[11] However, the renovation project was revoked in February 2008.[6]

The management of the Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet was transferred from MSCO to Rosatom in 2008.[12] In October 2009, the general director of Atomflot announced that Sevmorput could remain in service for 15 years.[6]

In late October 2012, it was reported that Sevmorput, which had been lying idle at the Atomflot base outside Murmansk since 2007, had been removed from the Russian Ship Register in July and would be sold for scrap.[13] However, in December 2013 it was reported that the decision to decommission the nuclear-powered ship had been cancelled and that the vessel would be brought back to service by February 2016.[14][15][16] Following a two-year refit and refueling of the reactor,[17] Sevmorput left Murmansk in November 2015 for the first time in nine years to carry out sea trials in the Barents Sea.[18][19][20]

Since returning to service in 2016, the world's only nuclear-powered cargo ship has been chartered mainly by the Russian Ministry of Defence for transporting cargo related to the development of military infrastructure in the Arctic.[21] In addition, the vessel has occasionally transported supplies for the oil and gas projects.[22]

In October 2018, the Russian Federal Agency for Fishery (Rosrybolovstvo), Rosatom and various Russian fishing industry organizations began discussing the possibility of transporting Pacific salmon caught in Kamchatka to western Russia along the Northern Sea Route using Sevmorput.[23] Initially, two test shipments of 5,000 tonnes of frozen fish from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to Saint Petersburg were planned for 2019,[24] but the second voyage was later cancelled after the first voyage turned out to be less profitable as expected.[25] While Russian nuclear-powered icebreakers had occasionally operated in the Gulf of Finland, Sevmorput's pilot voyage in September 2019 marked the first time commercial cargo was carried to the Baltic Sea onboard a Russian nuclear-powered vessel.[26] While the vessel later returned to Murmansk, the sinking of the only Russian floating dock capable of accommodating the vessel in November 2018 forced Sevmorput to sail back to Saint Petersburg for propeller repairs in December 2019.[27]


Model of Sevmorput.

General characteristics[edit]

Sevmorput is 260.30 metres (854.0 ft) long overall and 236.60 metres (776.2 ft) between perpendiculars. The breadth and depth of her hull are 32.20 metres (105.6 ft) and 18.30 metres (60.0 ft), respectively.[28] When loaded to the summer waterline, the ship draws 11.80 metres (38.7 ft) of water. However, in ice-covered waters she operates with a slightly smaller draught of 10.65 metres (34.9 ft) to improve the icebreaking characteristics of her raked stem.[1] The gross tonnage of Sevmorput is 38,226 and net tonnage 11,468.[28] The ship's deadweight tonnage is 33,980 tons at maximum draught and 26,480 tons while operating at reduced draught in ice. Her maximum displacement is 61,880 tons.[1]

Although originally designed according to the USSR Register of Shipping rules of 1981 to the highest Soviet ice class available for merchant ships, ULA, Sevmorput is currently classified by the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping with a slightly lower ice class, UL.[28] In addition to the national rules she was built according to the latest international regulations and conventions at the time, becoming the first ship built according to the Code of Safety for Nuclear Merchant Ships adopted by the International Maritime Organization in 1981.[1][29][30] Special attention was paid to the safety aspects of the vessel and, in addition to running aground or colliding with the reinforced bow of an icebreaker, the Soviet naval architects even took into account the possibility of a passenger aircraft crashing on Sevmorput.[9]

Power and propulsion[edit]

Sevmorput is powered by a single KLT-40 nuclear fission reactor with a thermal output of 135 megawatts. The reactor core contains 150.7 kilograms (332 lb) of 30–40- or 90-percent[note 1] enriched uranium in uranium-zirconium alloy[31] and has reportedly required refueling only twice. The nuclear power plant on board the vessel produces 215 tons of steam per hour at a pressure level of 40 atm (4,100 kPa) and temperature of 290 °C (554 °F). In case of emergency steam can also be produced by a diesel-powered boiler (50 t/h, 2,450 kPa, 360 °C).[1]

Unlike the Russian Arktika- and Taymyr-class nuclear-powered icebreakers, which have three fixed-pitch propellers and utilize nuclear-turbo-electric powertrain, Sevmorput is propelled by a single 4-bladed ducted controllable-pitch propeller mechanically coupled to a steam turbine, GTZA 684 OM5, which has a maximum output of 29,420 kW (39,450 hp) and turns the 6.7-metre (22 ft) propeller at 115 rpm. At full power the propulsion system gives the ship a maximum speed of 20.8 knots (38.5 km/h; 23.9 mph) at a draught of 10 metres (33 ft). She can also maintain a speed of 2 knots (3.7 km/h; 2.3 mph) in 1-metre (3.3 ft) thick level ice.[1]

For electricity production Sevmorput has three 1,700 kW turbogenerators and three 2,000 kW standby diesel generators. In addition in case of blackout the vessel also has two 200 kW emergency diesel generators.[1]

Cargo capacity and handling[edit]

Sevmorput can carry 74 lighters, each with a cargo capacity of 300 tons, in six holds and in two layers on the stern deck. The cargo hold hatches are designed for lighters with a total weight of 450 tons. The lighters are loaded and unloaded with a large gantry crane, manufactured by KONE, with a span of 21.3 metres (70 ft) and lifting capacity of 500 tons. The gantry crane has two three-ton auxiliary cranes.[1]

When not carrying lighters, Sevmorput can carry both 20- and 40-foot containers weighing up to 20.3 and 30.5 tons, respectively, in three layers. The total container capacity of the ship is 1,328 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU). While loading and unloading are usually done by shore-based cranes, a small number of containers can be handled with two container attachments to the gantry crane in ports that do not have cranes capable of handling containers. The lifting capacity of the attachments is 38 tons.[1] Later, Sevmorput has been fitted with two Russian-manufactured 60-tonne hydraulic boom cranes with a lifting radius of 43 metres (140 ft). The new cranes can also be used in tandem to lift 120-tonne loads.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 90 % according to information provided to Norwegian government in 1990, 30–40 % according to Bellona Foundation citing communication with Murmansk Shipping Company. (Diakov, Anatoli C. et al.)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Atomic lighter "Sevmorput". Rosatom. Retrieved 2011-11-26.
  2. ^ "Russia to send Nuclear-powered cargo ship through Arctic".
  3. ^ "Russia Readies Nuclear Container Ship".
  4. ^ "Nuclear lighter carrier "Sevmorput" came back from Franz Josef Land".
  5. ^ "The "SEVMORPUT" nuclear powered lighter-aboard ship". Murmansk Shipping Company. 24 July 2006. Archived from the original on 11 August 2004.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Project 10081 Sevmorput. Retrieved 2011-11-27.
  7. ^ The Baltsudoproect Central Design Bureau Archived 15 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Krylov Institute. Retrieved 2011-11-28.
  8. ^ Лихтеровоз-контейнеровоз "СЕВМОРПУТЬ". 1988 г. (in Russian) Archived 14 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2011-11-26.
  9. ^ a b c d e Four Soviet Ports Bar Ship in Protest Over Nuclear Safety. Los Angeles Times, 8 March 1989. Retrieved 2011-11-26.
  10. ^ Lepse to get patched up Archived 4 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Bellona Foundation, 29 June 1999. Retrieved 2011-11-28.
  11. ^ Murmansk gets the world's first nuclear-powered oil drilling vessel., 7 August 2007. Retrieved 2011-11-28.
  12. ^ Rosatom takes over Russia's nuclear powered icebreaker fleet Archived 21 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Bellona Foundation, 28 August 2008. Retrieved 2011-11-28.
  13. ^ No future for nuclear-powered container ship. Barents Observer, 24 October 2012.
  14. ^ "Атомный контейнеровоз-лихтеровоз «Севморпуть» будет восстановлен к 2016 году".
  15. ^ "Nuclear-powered container vessel "Sevmorput" will be restored - Northern Sea Route Information Office".
  16. ^ "Dock repairs of LASH carrier Sevmorput is over".
  17. ^ "Russia to send Nuclear-powered cargo ship through Arctic". High North News. 11 March 2016. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  18. ^ Атомный лихтеровоз-контейнеровоз «Севморпуть» 30 ноября прибудет в Мурманск после завершения ходовых испытаний (фото). PortNews, 30 November 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-30.
  19. ^ "Nuclear-powered container ship back in Arctic waters".
  20. ^ "SEVMORPUT Completes Trials After Overhaul; Signs for the Future - The Energy Collective". 31 December 2015.
  21. ^ Focus - Russia's Arctic Fleet. Navy Recognition, 20 May 2017. Retrieved 2017-07-20.
  22. ^ "Nuclear-powered container carrier Sevmorput to deliver 26,000 tonnes of general cargo to Utrenneye field in the Gulf of Ob". PortNews. 8 May 2019. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  23. ^ "Regular shipping line can be organized for fish deliveries from Russia's Far East". PortNews. 25 October 2018. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  24. ^ "Nuclear-powered container carrier Sevmorput to use NSR for fish delivery from Kamchatka to Saint-Petersburg". PortNews. 26 August 2019. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  25. ^ "Second shipment of fish via Arctic sea route cancelled". The Barents Observer. 30 October 2019. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  26. ^ "Here comes a nuclear-powered cargo ship loaded with seafood". The Barents Observer. 9 September 2019. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  27. ^ "Nuclear-powered container ship sailed 3,000 nm to change propellers in lack of floating dock up north". The Barents Observer. 15 December 2019. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  28. ^ a b c "Sevmorput (840293)". Register of ships. Russian Maritime Register of Shipping. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
  29. ^ International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974. International Maritime Organization. Retrieved 2011-11-26.
  30. ^ Nuclear icebreakers Archived 13 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Bellona Foundation, 18 June 1997. Retrieved 2011-11-29.
  31. ^ Diakov, Anatoli C.; et al. (2006), "Feasibility of Converting Russian Icebreaker Reactors from HEU to LEU Fuel" (PDF), Science and Global Security, Taylor & Francis, Inc., 14: 33–48, doi:10.1080/08929880600620575, retrieved 26 November 2011
  32. ^ "ЗАО «СММ» поставило грузовые электрогидравлические краны «С1700» для атомного лихтеровоза «Севморпуть»" (in Russian). PortNews. 31 January 2019. Retrieved 2 January 2020.