Photographer's Note

Chukchi Sea. Late evening of the polar day. Latitude ~70° N, air temperature 3 °C.
We’re sailing at 12-knot speed to Wrangel Island through broken ice floe on board of icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov. The picture was made from the bridge.

She is one of four diesel electric icebreakers of this series built in Helsinki, Finland, by the Wärtsilä Company. She was launched in 1980 and is designed to operate in temperatures down to -50 °C. She was built for working in Arctic waters during winter around Siberia; in particular to help keep shipping lanes open for other shipping.

Currently she is operated by a shipping company based in Vladivostok. In 1990 the Kapitan Khlebnikov was refitted for use as a tour ship in the Arctic and Antarctic. She can berth 112 passengers.


Length: 132.4m (121m at the waterline), Breadth: 27.75m, Draught 8.5m, Height 48.7m.

Displacement: 15,000 tones.

Main engines: 6 diesels set producing 24,200 horsepower (18.5MW) driving 6 electric generators.

Drive system: 3 twin DC electric motors each turning a 22m long propeller shaft to which is attached a 4 bladed 4.3m diameter propeller with hardened steel blades. Blades can be changed at sea in the event of damage.

The ship can be operated from two positions, the main bridge and also an auxiliary bridge towards the back of the ship if ice is being broken when going backwards.

Maximum speed: 19knots (35.2km/h), cruising speed 16 knots (30km/h) in calm open water. Ice 1.5m thick can be broken at 1 knot (1.8km/h). Ice of 3m has been broken by repeated ramming.

Powerful lights are carried for operations in the dark of winter.

There is air bubbling system to help ice breaking. Air can be forced under pressure from 2m above the keel from the bow to half way down the ship.

Hull thickness is 45mm at the ice skirt (where the ice is met) and 25—35mm elsewhere

Friction between the ship and the ice is reduced by a polymer-paint coating at the level of the ice skirt.

Double hull with water ballast between, pumps can move up to 74 tones of ballast water a minute to aid ice breaking.

The stern region is cushioned to allow for the close towing of other vessels when helping them through the ice.

Two helicopters are carried to help with navigation in ice and for tourist trips.

Being a powerful polar class icebreaker, the Kapitan Khlebnikov can visit places that other tour ships dare not go. Most tour ships play it very safe with ice around and will not approach or enter an area where the changing tide and wind could entrap the ship. It was the first ship ever to circumnavigate Antarctica with passengers in 1996-97.

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Additional Photos by Nikolay Murenets (Kolyamour) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 317 W: 101 N: 339] (1760)
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