Poetry in motion – frozen variety

Here’s a time-lapse video of two Russian nuclear-powered icebreakers of the Arktika class, maneuvering in the Arctic Ocean.  The main “actor” is Yamal, with her distinctive shark’s mouth painted on her bow.  She meets up with 50 Let Pobedy (literally, “50 Years of Victory) along the way, and escorts an unnamed merchant vessel through the ice.

The video blurb is in Russian, but I fed it through Google Translate and got this:

This video was shot in the Arctic Ocean in March 2018. For 7 days the film crew passed through the Barents Sea to Karsky around the Novaya Zemlya archipelago on the nuclear icebreaker Yamal – we saw the northern lights and polar bears, watched the ships stuck in the ice being towed and were very cold.

In the video you can see two Russian icebreakers – “50 Years of Victory” and “Yamal” with a capacity of 75,000 horsepower and a distinctive shark mouth, which appeared on it in 1994 during one of the children’s humanitarian programs. According to legend, someone suggested drawing a smiling shark mouth on the nose to make it more fun for children. At present, Russia has the only nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet in the world. They are used to provide wiring ships in the waters of the Northern Sea Route in the freezing ports of the Russian Federation, research expeditions, rescue operations and tourist cruises.

In addition to the extreme weather conditions, the shooting was complicated by the fact that the icebreaker was always in motion. And if the quadrocopter DJI Inspire 2 was flying over the radar tower, the recording file was damaged.

Here’s the video.  Listen to the sounds of the ice breaking up beneath and around the ship.  The Arktika class can apparently break through ice with a thickness of up to 16 feet, which is pretty darn impressive, if you ask me.

I found it interesting that the Arctika class vessels have to sail in very cold water, because it’s an essential part of their reactor cooling mechanism.  Apparently they can’t sail too far south, because the warmer water would cause their reactors would overheat.  They can therefore only operate in the Arctic Ocean, and aren’t able to transit to the South Pole to operate in the Antarctic (although I suppose they could be towed there, with their reactors shut down, if absolutely necessary).

Part of me would love to make a voyage on one of those icebreakers, to experience that for myself . . . but then the sane part of my brain reminds me that I’ll be a lot warmer if I stay in Texas!



  1. With the oppressive heat and humidity of north Texas already here, an Arctic voyage sounds particularly good to me right now.

  2. Pretty soon you'll start burning up there in Texas.
    Summer hasn't even started yet if it's still "only in the 90s there'.

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