By the beginning of June, the state debt to Nerpa Yard for salaries and works performed amounted to 24 million USD. Having run out of patience waiting for their salaries, the workers organised a strike committee which decided to go on strike, actually halting the work at the yard on June 23.
Since then the yard was alternating between strikes and regular operation, depending on the messages coming from Moscow. On July 15 Nerpa finally received some 900,000 USD to cover a part of the salary debts, thus easing the tensed social situation among the workers. An additional 900,000 USD are expected to come as a loan from the Russian State bank. Payback is guaranteed by Murmansk county administration, but the interest is set too high – amounting to 40% – so negotiations are still under way.
Meanwhile, the yards Sevmorput in Murmansk and no. 82 in Safonovo by Severomorsk, are having even worse economical problems. The angry workers of Naval Yard no.82 ran a blockage of an automobile road on July 16, protesting against the salary arrears. So far, the action has brought no results.
While a unification of the Safonovo and Sevmorput yards has been considered during the last two years, current reorganisation plans go even further, considering a close-down of both yards. Both possibilities are based on the steady decrease in yard services needed, as the Northern Fleet reduces its number of operational vessels.
Sevmorput made several attempts at getting involved with decommissioning of nuclear powered submarines, but succeeded only in obtaining a few subs of the first generation for defuelling operations. Naval Yard no.82 is the only one on the Kola Peninsula able to perform docking repairs on the Typhoon class submarines, but similar facilities are available in Severodvinsk, and the four remaining operative Typhoons are likely to be pulled out of operation by the year 2000.