Russian Shipyard Launches Missile-Carrying Icebreaker


Published Oct 28, 2019 8:28 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Admiralty Shipyard in St. Petersburg has launched an icebreaking rescue tug equipped with cruise missiles and a deck gun - a multi-mission "combat icebreaker" designed to defend Russian interests in the high Arctic. 

The future Ivan Papanin "combines the functions of a tugboat, patrol, icebreaker and a scientific vessel. It can solve an unlimited number of different tasks and, thanks to the inherent design solutions, can work in the Arctic region as efficiently as possible," said United Shipbuilding Corporation chairman Georgy Poltavchenko, speaking to Russian media. 

The Papanin is envisioned as Russia's answer to the Norwegian Coast Guard's Svalbard-class icebreaking rescue tug, which mounts one deck gun and can carry a small air-defense system. However, Papanin is being built as a naval vessel, and it is fitted out accordingly: with eight Kalibr-NK cruise missiles, Papanin will have an over-the-horizon anti-surface / land-attack capability, something more commonly associated with a frigate or a destroyer than a patrol boat. 

Papanin is designed to break ice up to about five feet thick, about the same specification as the U.S. Coast Guard medium icebreaker Healy. She is also fitted with a hangar for one helicopter and a launch davit for two high-speed patrol boats. 

The Papanin is slated for delivery in 2021. A second vessel in the class, the future Nikolay Zubov, is scheduled for delivery in 2024. The vessels add to Russia's growing inventory of icebreakers, already the largest in the world. At present, Russia operates 46 icebreaking ships (leaving aside icebreaking cargo vessels). Three new nuclear-powered heavy icebreakers, the Arktika-class ships, are slated for delivery over the next several years.