World’s most capable icebreaker
The 50 Let Pobedy is a Russian Arktika-class nuclear icebreaker. The name translates in English literally to “50 Years of Victory”, but more properly means “Fiftieth Anniversary of Victory”. Original plans called for the ship to be launched in 1995, the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. Construction began in 1989 and the ship was initially designated as the NS Ural. Work stopped in 1994, when Russia was suffering from a major financial crisis. In 2004, a fire broke out on board the ship. Although there was no damage to the propulsion area and no fuel had yet been loaded into the reactors, the incident further delayed completion. The 50 Let Pobedy finally entered service in March 2007. While nominally the ship is the sixth vessel in the Arktika class, there have been significant changes. It has been lengthened from the standard 486 feet to 522 feet. In addition, it is the first nuclear icebreaker to be fitted with a spoon-shaped bow, which has significantly improved its icebreaking capability. Like the others in its class, it is fitted with two OK-900A nuclear reactors, providing electrical power to drive three shafts. The crew numbers 140 and the ship is designed to carry up to 128 passengers. On 25 July 2008, the 50 Let Pobedy carried passengers to the North Pole. Now, it makes annual voyages to the North Pole each summer, with the next voyage scheduled to depart Murmansk on 19 June 2013. Cost starts at US$25,685 per person, double occupancy. The ship is equipped with an athletic/exercise facility, a swimming pool, a library, a restaurant, a massage facility, and a music salon. There is no entertainment, as on regular cruise ships and the cabins are somewhat Spartan. Still though, you are guaranteed to see lots of ice and the odds are good that the ship will encounter polar bears, whales, walrus, seals, and other Arctic animals. When not transporting tourists, the ship assists vessels operating in Arctic waters north of Russia.