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ST. PETERSBURG, August 17. /TASS/. The 50 Let Pobedy (50 Years of Victory) nuclear-powered icebreaker has set a speed record in the northern route, covering the distance from Murmansk to the North Pole in 79 hours, the shipping director of Russia’s Atomflot nuclear fleet operator told TASS on Thursday.
This is twice as faster as the time shown by the Soviet-era Arktika nuclear-powered icebreaker in 1977 when a surface vessel reached the North Pole for the first time, Atomflot Shipping Director Andrei Smirnov said.
"The 50 Let Pobedy nuclear-powered icebreaker arrived at the North Pole at 02:33 Moscow time on August 17, 2017, making this journey to mark 40 years since the Arktika nuclear-powered icebreaker reached the North Pole for the first time in 1977. The journey was completed within record time limits - in 79 hours after sailing off from the Atomflot wharf," he said.
The Arktika icebreaker’s journey 40 years ago took 176 hours: it left Murmansk at 20:00 Moscow time on August 9, 1977 and reached the North Pole at 4:00 Moscow time on August 17.
The Pole was reached by a surface ship for the 124th time, Smirnov said. "Over 40 years, the Pole has been reached 124 times in surface navigation, including 111 times by Soviet and Russian vessels," he said.
This has also been a record cruise for 50 Let Pobedy Captain Dmitry Lobusov: he has reached the North Pole as the ship’s master for the 24th time. The previous record belongs to Yamal nuclear-powered icebreaker Captain Alexander Lembrik who conquered the North Pole 23 times.
The Arktika’s cruise to the North Pole was a journey to the unknown. "This was for the first time in the world that a surface ship was reaching the Pole and therefore we were preparing for a year-long drift. We took tractors onboard," said Viktor Boyarsky, chairman of the Polar Commission of the Russian Geographical Society.
A decision was made to approach the North Pole from the East, from the New Siberian Islands, using the direction of the ice’s natural drifting.
According to him, the ice situation in the North Pole was quite different at that time than now: there were heavy years-old ices.
"Today you can travel to the Pole according to the schedule: there is no thick ice there now," said Boyarsky who has been organizing tours for foreign tourists to the North Pole since the mid-1990s.
The cruise by the 50 Let Pobedy icebreaker under the command of Captain Dmitry Lobusov is devoted to 40 years since the North Pole was reached by a surface vessel for the first time and exactly matches the cruise by the Arktika icebreaker, which is honored for this achievement.
A conference has been organized aboard the 50 Let Pobedy icebreaker with the participation of representatives of both houses of Russia’s parliament, Rosatom civil nuclear power corporation and polar explorers of various generations. A diverse program of lectures and discussions has been prepared for the cruise’s participants and their participation in hoisting the Russian flag on the North Pole. All those who wish so will be given a possibility to swim in the Arctic Ocean at the top of the planet.
The Arktika was the first icebreaker of its series. Then the Baltic Shipyard in Leningrad (currently St. Petersburg) built another 5 such icebreakers under the same project: the Sibir (1977), the
Rossiya (1985), the Soviet Union (1989), the Yamal (1992) and the 50 Let Pobedy (2007).