Fire rages aboard nuclear icebreaker in St Petersburg

Publish date: November 30, 2004

A Russian nuclear icebreaker under construction since 1989 is on fire at the Baltiysky naval yard in Saint Petersburg.

It was reported by the Ria-Novosti news agency today, quoting the emergencies ministry. About 20 fire crews battled the fire aboard one of the ship’s decks for more than two hours. All workers aboard the vessel, The Fiftieth Anniversary of Victory, were evacuated, according to the agency. The fire broke out this morning in the 100 square meters storage with construction materials. The press-department of the Baltiysky shipyard claimed, however, the incident was insignificant and it was just a smoke after the welding works. At 10:37 the fire was brought under control. One worker was sent to hospital. The shipyard’s representatives claim there is no threat of radioactive contamination as the nuclear reactor has no fuel inside.

Director of the civil shipbuilding department of the Baltiysky shipyard Alexander Kovalev said to that the fire would not influence the completion date of the nuclear icebreaker. In June this year vice-director of the project on The Fiftieth Anniversary of Victory ice-breaker construction Sergey Ivanov said the construction might be postponed till 2006 as the 2004 budget lacks $16.4m necessary for design and installation of the new nuclear safety system as well as for the control and replacement of some earlier installed electromechanical equipment. These works can require one year, daily Vecherny Murmansk reported.

Unfinished icebreaker has already undergone repairs. It has been in the dry dock of the Baltiysky shipyard. The specialist from Finland and Japan took part in the stern gear repair. Total about 600 workers participated in the repair works. The representatives of the Murmansk Shipping Company and the Russian Maritime Register monitored the work in the dock. The nuclear icebreaker had to be placed in dock due to the long-lasting construction since 1989. On July 1, 2004, the ship was 93% completed. The Russian State budget pledged $81.4 million for the icebreaker construction from 2003 to 2005.