The sea trials of the world’s largest nuclear ice breaker 50 Years of Victory were finally completed on February 17th. As reported in the Russian newspaper Finansovye Isvestiya, the 25,000-ton vessel was tested in the Gulf of Finland and in the Baltic Sea for two weeks, and passed all tests without problems. The only problem was, however, that the Finnish authorities were completely unaware of the testing, despite the fact that the two countries signed an agreement in 1996, according to which any movement by a nuclear-powered vessel closer than 300 kilometers from the Finnish coast should be reported.
According to the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, theRadiation and Nuclear Safety Authority in Finland (STUK) should be informed of any nuclear activity in the region, so that the authorities might take appropriate precautionary measures, even if the likelihood of something going wrong on a nuclear icebreaker is minute.
The construction of the 50 Years of Victory nuclear ice breaker already started in 1989, but due to lack of funds, construction works were halted in 1993. The vessel was then left half-finished for several years and could finally be completed by 2006.
It is now predicted that, in the foreseeable future, the nuclear ice breaker might even be used for Arctic tourist cruises.
Russia currently has six nuclear icebreakers and one nuclear container ship in operation. Two of the ships were built in Finland in the 1980s. The reactors for these two ships were also installed in St Petersburg.