Russian Northern Fleet headquarters is located at Severomorsk along the northern edge of the Kola Peninsula. Severomorsk is also a major port and weapons handling facility. This coastline, which is ice-free all year due to the warming influence of the Gulf Stream, provides the Northern Fleet unrestricted access to open water. This allows for near continuous year-round training exercises as well as the opportunity for response to political and military crises. The remainder of the Arctic coastline becomes icebound and virtually impassible each winter. Russian nuclear icebreakers are, however, active in the area, making progress especially against the spring and fall ice packs. This portion of Russia is subjected to long winter nights and in the Murmansk area the sun does not rise above the horizon from mid-November through mid-January.
In May 1984, a five-day series of explosions at Shtyukozero (8 km NE of Severomorsk) reportedly destroyed up to one-third of the Northern Fleet's SAM stockpile, as well as other missiles and munitions. This site also housed nuclear missiles at the time of the fire. Luckily, the fire was extinguished before it spread to the nuclear missile storage areas.
Once emblematic of the Cold War threat to the United States, today Severomorsk and the Northern Fleet provide a stage for strong and growing relations between the U.S. and Russia. In August 1997 USS Estocin completed a three-day visit to Severomorsk, Russia, homeport of Russia's largest naval force, the Northern Fleet. Severomorsk is the second Russian port visit during this northern cruise for Estocin, a Naval Reserve Perry-class guided-missile frigate. As a participant in the recent BALTOPS 97 exercise, the ship went to the port of Baltysk, Russia.
Severomorsk, a Closed Administrational and Territorial District (ZATO - zakrytye administrativno-territorial'nye obrazovaniia), is situated on the coast of the Kola Bay in 26 km from Murmansk. It is called the capital of the Northern Navy of Russia. There are more 400 enterprises and institutions of the military industrial complex, housing economy, transport and communication, trade and the other branches of the economical activity. The essential place in economy of the town has small business undertakings. In Severomorsk operates the only professional naval folk dancing and singing ensemble above the Arctic Circle. You can visit in Severomorsk the Museum of local Lore, but it is not easy to get to the town, as you should have special pass.
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