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Five icebreakers welcome guests of Icebreaker Festival in St. Petersburg

On April 29, St. Petersburg hosted the Icebreaker Festival

ST. PETERSBURG, May 3. /TASS/. Thousands visitors came to St. Petersburg’s embankments on Sunday, April 29, to see with own eyes the vessels, which break ice and escort ships in the Baltic, Kara and White Seas. The city hosted the festival for the fifth year.

"[This year,] we have changed the format, we have added educational programs, we offer lectures, will show films about the Arctic’s development," head of the city’s tourism committee, Andrei Mushkarev, told reporters. "We shall offer lectures about modern technologies in the Arctic’s development, about the ecology security, special equipment used in the Arctic, and, on the other hand, we have added some elements of a show - in the evening we shall have a lights show, the light will be directed at all the icebreakers - we are uniting a festival of light with a festival of icebreakers."

The traditional Waltz of Tugboats was on the program. Four towboats span on the Neva River - breaking into pairs and then getting all together, fountaining from the fire-extinguishing equipment.

The Novorossiysk’s debut

However, the festival’s main characters are icebreakers. The longest queue led to the 5th festival’s debutant - the Novorossiysk - the newest diesel-electric icebreaker liner, which is slightly over two years old.

The icebreaker arrived to the festival right from the navigation in the Baltic Sea. "We have just returned, two weeks ago during this navigation, we worked in the Gulf of Finland’s eastern part - the ports Primorsk, Ust-Luga, St. Petersburg," Captain Yaroslav Verzhbitsky said.

The icebreaker has worked in the Arctic area. "We went along the White Sea to Arkhangelsk, to Kandalaksha, escorted vessels there," the captain continued. "There, the stream is strong, it influences the ice movement, and sometimes it is easy, but everything may change 10 or 12 hours later."

"Besides, we participated in a voyage to the Franz-Josef Land; in summer we spent six months with experts of the Arctic and Antarctic Studies Institute - they studied the Kara Sea, how icebergs move, how icebreakers could tow icebergs, and the scientists changed equipment at their floating stations," he added.

Icebreakers’ evolution

Achievements of the modern Russian shipbuilding are represented not only by the Novorossiysk. Those are the Saint Petersburg icebreaker of a similar class, and the festival’s smallest participant - the Nevskaya Zastava river icebreaker. Despite its modest sizes, it is playing a major role in the city’s life - by breaking ice on the Neva River, it makes sure the city is not flooded.

Next to those vessels, here are the icebreaker fleet’s veterans. The Ivan Kruzenstern is more than half a century old - it is the oldest working icebreaker. The Mudyug’s forked bow attracts the audience - the vessel was made in Finland in the 1980s. In addition to escorting vessels through ice, it can extinguish fire at floating objects.

"[For the festival,] we are choosing both modern, newest achievements, and classical icebreakers," Andrei Kovalev of Rosmorport, the port authority, told TASS, explaining how icebreakers are chosen for the event. "We also wanted to make sure the visitors feel most comfortable as icebreakers are not cruise vessels - it is not easy to walk there, the ladder is high, the board is high, and thus it is not easy to get on it."

The 100-year-old Krasin icebreaker, which is a museum now, is also on the show. The exposition on board tells about the icebreaker fleet’s history and presents its future. From the icebreaker’s stern, visitors could see the Arktika and the Sibir nuclear icebreakers under construction - very soon, they will begin working along the Northern Sea Route.

Unusual city views

The festival attracts great interest - guests are coming from across the country, the city tourism official told TASS. "The hotels are sold out by 96% for these dates - practically like during a high tourist season," he said.

Many guests come here for the first time, but sailor Igor Mayorov is a regular visitor. "My hobby is photo portraits, and it is very interesting for me here - I can see many emotions, kind, good, and this is very attractive for me as a photo artist," he told TASS.

A student of the Marine Technical University Maxim Rezorenko came to the festival to learn more about how vessels are made - in future he hopes to design ships. "I enjoyed walking the decks, seeing how ships are made - at least from the outside," he said.

"I am here for the first time - it is very interesting," a manager, Anna Emelyanova said. "These big ships, which have been to the Arctic, have seen the ice, and now they are here - on the Neva - we want to visit all the vessels and we would be happy to spend a day for this."

St. Petersburg hosts annual icebreaker festivals since 2014. About half a million guests attended the show in 2017.