Flee Melting Arctic Ice Floe
Russian scientists are evacuating a research station built on an Arctic ice floe because global warming has melted the ice to a fraction of its original size, a spokesman said.
The North Pole-35 station, where 21 researchers and two dogs live in huts, will be taken off the floe in the western Arctic Ocean this week instead of in late August as originally planned, said Sergei Balyasnikov of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St. Petersburg.
The research crew landed in early September on the 1.2- by 2.5-mile floe near the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago. During its westward drift of more than 1,550 miles, the floe shrank to just 1,000 by 2,000 feet.
"The evacuation is ahead of schedule because of global warming," Balyasnikov said.
The nuclear-powered icebreaker Arktika will escort the research vessel Mikhail Somov to the station, which is drifting between the Franz Josef Land archipelago and the island of Novaya Zemlya in the western Arctic.
The researchers are packing up their winterized huts and equipment to prepare for the ships' arrival, Balyasnikov said.
Over the last 60 years, Russia has organized dozens of stations that collect data on weather and Arctic flora and fauna. Soviet polar researchers were hailed as heroes, and the results of their journeys were once hailed as unique achievements of Communist science.
Russia recently resumed the tradition of using polar research to make political points.
Russia last year sent an expedition to plant a Russian flag on the seabed under the North Pole and said research indicates a massive underwater mountain range in the area, which is believed to contain huge oil and gas reserves, is part of Russia's continental shelf.
Russian Navy Boosts
Combat Presence in Arctic
Agence France-Presse (AFP) 14jul2008
MOSCOW - The Russian Navy on Monday said it was boosting its combat presence in the Arctic, including near the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, amid increased international interest in the region.
"The Russian Navy has restored the presence of combat ships of the Northern Fleet in the Arctic region, including in the region of Spitsbergen," the Navy said in a statement.
Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo was unable to say the last time combat ships were in the region, but described the latest patrols as part of a "significant expansion of the activities of the Northern Fleet."
The anti-submarine ship Severomorsk is already in the area and will be joined by rocket cruiser Marshal Ustinov later this week, the statement said.
The movements of the ships will remain "in strict accordance with international law," the statement said.
Russia last year caused a storm of protest by planting a Russian flag on the ocean floor beneath the North Pole in a bid to boost its claim to the region's mineral reserves.
Fellow Arctic power Canada sent a military mission into the Arctic Ocean days later.
Interest in the economic exploitation of the Arctic has increased significantly in recent years as melting ice floes have eased access to the region's rich oil and gas reserves.
Last year the Russian Navy announced an increase of its presence in the Atlantic and Mediterranean in order to protect shipping routes.
Russia Warships Resume Presence in Arctic Areas
Itar-Tass (Russia) 14jul2008
MOSCOW — The Russian Navy has resumed the presence of warships of its Northern Fleet in Arctic areas, including off coasts the Spitsbergen Island, the navy’s spokesman Captain Igor Dygalo told Itar-Tass on Monday.
“At present, the anti-submarine ship Severomorsk has come to the area and is fulfilling tasks, and the missile carrying cruiser Marshal Ustinov will stay in the area from July 17,” he said.
“Sorties of warships of the Northern Fleet will be made periodically with a necessary regularity. All actions of the Russian warships are fulfilled strictly in accordance with the international maritime law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982,” Dygalo said.
Jane's Fighting Ships
Displacement, tons: 6,700 standard; 8,500 full load
Dimensions, feet (metres): 536.4 Ч 63.3 Ч 24.6
(163.5 Ч 19.3 Ч 7.5)
Flight deck, feet (metres): 65.6 Ч 59 (20 Ч 18)
Main machinery: COGAG; 2 gas turbines; 55,500 hp(m) (40.8 MW); 2 gas turbines; 13,600 hp(m) (10 MW); 2 shafts
Speed, knots: 29. Range, miles: 2,600 at 30 kt; 7,700 at 18 kt
Complement: 249 (29 officers)
Missiles: SAM: 8 SA-N-9 Gauntlet (Klinok) vertical launchers [Ref 1]; command guidance; active radar homing to 12 km (6.5 n miles) at 2 Mach; warhead 15 kg; altitude 3.4-12,192 m (10-40,000 ft); 64 missiles; four channels of fire.
The launchers are set into the ships' structures with 6 ft diameter cover plates-4 on the forecastle, 2 between the torpedo tubes and 2 at the forward end of the after deckhouse between the RBUs.
A/S: 2 Raduga SS-N-14 Silex (Rastrub) quad launchers [Ref 2]; command guidance to 55 km (30 n miles) at 0.95 Mach; payload nuclear 5 kT or Type 40 torpedo or Type E53-72 torpedo. SSM version; range 35 km (19 n miles); warhead 500 kg.
Guns: 2-3.9 in (100 mm)/59 [Ref 3]; 60 rds/min to 15 km (8.2 n miles); weight of shell 16 kg.
4-30 mm/65 AK 630 [Ref 4]; 6 barrels per mounting; 3,000 rds/min combined to 2 km.
Torpedoes: 8-21 in (533 mm) (2 quad) tubes [Ref 5]. Combination of 53 cm torpedoes (see table at front of section).
A/S mortars: 2 RBU 6000 12-tubed trainable [Ref 6]; range 6,000 m; warhead 31 kg.
Mines: Rails for 26 mines.
Countermeasures: Decoys: 2 PK-2 and 8 PK-10 chaff launchers. US Masker type noise reduction.
ESM/ECM: 2 Foot Ball B (Levchenko onwards); 2 Wine Glass (intercept). 6 Half Cup laser warner (Levchenko onwards); 2 Bell Squat (jammers).
Weapons control: MP 145 radar and optronic system. 2 Bell Crown and Round House C datalink.
Radars: Air search: Strut Pair [Ref 7]; F-band.
Top Plate [Ref 8]; 3D; D/E-band.
Surface search: 3 Palm Frond [Ref 9]; I-band.
Fire control: 2 Eye Bowl [Ref 10]; F-band (for SS-N-14). 2 Cross Sword [Ref 11]; K-band (for SA-N-9). Kite Screech [Ref 12]; H/I/K-band (for 100 mm guns). 2 Bass Tilt [Ref 13]; H/I/K-band (for 30 mm guns).
IFF: Salt Pot A and B. Box Bar A and B.
Tacan: 2 Round House.
CCA: Fly Screen B (by starboard hangar) [Ref 14]. 2 Fly Spike B.
Sonars: Horse Jaw (Polinom); hull-mounted; active search and attack; low/medium frequency.
Mouse Tail; VDS; active search; medium frequency.
Helicopters: 2 Ka-27 Helix A [Ref 15].
Programmes: Design approved in October 1972. Successor to 'Kresta II' class but based on 'Krivak' class. Type name is bolshoy protivolodochny korabl meaning large anti-submarine ship. Programme stopped at 12 in favour of 'Udaloy II' class (Type 1155.1).
Structure: The two hangars are set side by side with inclined elevating ramps to the flight deck. Has pre-wetting NBCD equipment and replenishment at sea gear. Active stabilisers are fitted. The chaff launchers are on both sides of the foremast and inboard of the torpedo tubes. Cage Flask aerials are mounted on the mainmast spur and on the mast on top of the hangar. There are indications of a nuclear release mechanism, or interlock, on the lower tubes of the SS-N-14 launchers.
Operational: A general purpose ship with the emphasis on ASW. Good sea-keeping and endurance have been reported. Based as follows: Northern Fleet-Severomorsk, Kharlamov and Levchenko; Pacific Fleet-Shaposhnikov, Panteleyev, Vinogradov and Tributs. Vinogradov was in collision in April 2000 but was quickly repaired. Severomorsk deployed to St Petersburg for refit in June 1998 completing in late 2000, and Levchenko followed in November 1999. The fourth of class, Zakharov was scrapped after a fire in March 1992. Tributs was in reserve in 1994 and had a machinery space fire in September 1995, was back in service in mid-1999 and may again be non-operational in 2001. Udaloy, Spiridonov and Vasilevsky have been laid up or scrapped. Kulakov has been in refit since 1990 but may return to service in 2002/03.
Opinion: Obvious efforts are being made to keep this class in service at the expense of the Sovremennys.
“Severomorsk” — Project 1155 major anti-submarine ship. Board number 619, commissioned in 1987. CO 2nd-Class Captain Anton Speransky.
Yantar Baltic Shipbuilding plant
Over a period of six years [1993-1999] a total of three general directors had taken turns at running the Baltic Shipbuilding plant Yantar, which manufactures the most advanced warships. Because of abrupt reduction of the state defence order one third of workers were laid off, and the rest didn't receive their wages for months. In 1997 a new general director, Aleksei Zhirenko, came to Yantar. He made several profitable contracts for building of dry-ships for foreign companies, and the enterprise started three-shift work again. But in September 1999 Aleksei Zhirenko suddenly resigned without explanation.
The mission of the Northern Fleet is to defend Russia's far northwestern Arctic region surrounding the Kola Peninsula. The Soviet Fleet of the Northern Seas was established in 1933, and in 1937 it was renamed the Northern Fleet. The rise of Northern Fleet to a position of preeminence in the Soviet Navy under Admiral Sergei Gorshkov was associated with nuclear power and nuclear weapons. The Northern Fleet became the primary basing area for the largest concentration of Soviet nuclear-powered surface and submarine forces. The Soviet Union developed the world's largest fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers. Nuclear power plants provided the electricity for the region's vast military-industrial complex. Once an ocean-going force, the Northern Fleet's principal mission is now to defend Russian borders. The Northern Fleet is headquartered at Severomorsk, at the top of the Kola Peninsula near Murmansk, with additional home ports at Kola, Motovskiy, Gremikha, and Ura Guba. In May 1984, a five-day series of explosions at Severmorsk reportedly destroyed up to one-third of the Northern Fleet's SAM stockpile, as well as other missiles and munitions.
The Russian Northern Fleet underwent significant changes since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since the end of the Cold War the total number of ships in the Northern Fleet declined by 40%, with many ships placed in reserve status. As of 1996 the fleet provided home ports for thirty-seven nuclear submarines, twenty-two other submarines, forty-seven principal surface combatants, and ten coastal and smaller ships. The naval aviation contingent included a complement of twenty Su-39 fixed-wing aircraft and ten antisubmarine warfare helicopters on board the Admiral Kuznetsov , which heads the air defense of the Barents Sea. Shore-based naval aviation included 200 combat aircraft and sixty-four helicopters. The Northern Fleet has two naval infantry brigades, one coastal defense regiment, and an air defense missile regiment.
In 1989 the Soviet Navy had nearly 200 nuclear submarines in operation, while by 1996 barely half this number was in service, of which two-thirds belonged to the Northern Fleet. Principal concerns with respect to the Russian Northern Fleet are related to de-fuelling activities and laid-up submarines still containing nuclear fuel. Given the former Soviet Union's inadequate management of nuclear and chemical wastes from industrial and military activities, and the associated health and environmental risks, these efforts are critical. The case against environmentalist and former Soviet Navy Captain Aleksandr Nikitin raised questions about Russia's commitment to international standards of human rights. Nikitin was arrested in early 1996 for his role in publishing a report on the nuclear hazards posed by the decaying Russian Northern Fleet. The prosecution's case is based on secret decrees, which were issued after Nikitin's arrest and released to Nikitin and his attorney only after the trial began.
Russian authorities have admitted the theft of substantial quantities of highly-enriched uranium within their own borders. A Russian naval officer on trial in Murmansk for having stolen 4 kg of 20%-enriched U235 in November 1993 has described how he simply walked straight into a poorly guarded storage area in Severomorsk (headquarters of the Russian Northern Fleet), forced a padlock on a door, and walked out with several canisters of nuclear fuel rods.
- Kola Inlet
- Litsa Gulf
- Motovskiy Gulf
- Ura Guba
- Severomorsk HQ