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Project 23550 Ivan Papanin - patrol icebreaker

The Russian defense ministry and the Admiralteyskie Verfi concluded the shipbuilding contract for two Project 23550 icebreakers in May 2016. By October the construction of the patrol icebreakers had been already started: the first ship was to be commissioned in 2019, and the second one in 2020.

The first ship is named after Ivan Papanin, the famous Soviet Arctic explorer who held the rank of a Navy rear-admiral, among other distinctions. Papanin headed a series of pioneering expeditions in the north during the 1930s, as well as heading the rescue operation which brought back the icebreaker Georgy Sedov after an epic 800-day stay in an ice trap. The second will be named after another Arctic explorer and oceanographer, Nikolay Zubov, who was the first person to sail around Franz Josef Land.

To ensure the protection of Russian interests in the far north, the Ministry of Defense is creating a military grouping of icebreaker and ice class ships. They will also defend the Arctic coast of the country. Most of the ships will be built on the basis of the LK-110Ya icebreaker-leader. It is planned to create military icebreakers and ice-class attack ships capable of carrying both artillery and missile weapons.

The Project 23550 ships will be capable to break the 1.5-meter thick ice, armed with the AK-176MA automatic gun mount, equipped with a helipad and a hangar to accommodate a helicopter and UAVs, and two Raptor fast-speed attack boats. The ships length is 114 meters, beam is 18 meters, displacement is 8,500 tons, speed is 18 knots, operational range is 6,000 nautical miles, endurance is 60 days

The very phrase "combat icebreaker" for a long time was perceived by foreign experts as absurd. Fighting in conditions of low temperatures, and the very fact of conducting combat operations in such conditions for a long time was considered more a matter of the distant future than a real necessity. But the rapid development of the Arctic left its imprint on the development of warships. However, the approach of Russian specialists, as one of the most experienced in the design and construction of ships for the "opening" of ice differs from the experience of foreign shipbuilders, above all, its quality.

The first modern icebreaker built for the Russian Defense Ministry was the Project 21180 vessel named Ilya Muromets. The ship, which was launched in 2016, will get additional features by the end of 2017. This new generation diesel-electric icebreaker is designed to provide year-round access to the Arctic territories for the Russian Navy, which has restored the military infrastructure in the region. However, the Ilya Muromets does not possess any weapons and, does not differ from the civilian icebreakers.

The Defense Ministry has decided to develop a new type of ship, which can serve both as an icebreaker and warship. In Russia, they did not begin to form exclusively a combat ship, for the free operation of which, in the conditions of one and a half meter ice, several escort vessels will be required. Instead, the multi-purpose patrol ship of the Arctic zone of the ice class of the project 23550 was created by the efforts of the Almaz Central Marine Design Bureau. The ship ordered for the Navy is already being constructed on the stalls of the Admiralty Shipyard, but the concern of foreign partners begins to manifest long before the ship is descended and transferred to the fleet.

The solemn keel-laying ceremony of the Project 23550 lead icebreaker Ivan Papanin took place at the Admiralteyskie Verfi shipyard in Saint Petersburg on Wednesday, April 19. The second ship in the class will bear the name of Nikolai Zubov, a polar explorer. The Project 23550 icebreaker was designed by the Almaz Central Maritime Design Bureau. The ship will be modular and multifunctional, combining combat, search-and-rescue, and scientific research functions. The project is fully consisted of Russian-made components.

The essence of the fears of the foreign military is that the "combat icebreaker" will be able not only to "break through" the corridors to civilian vessels and ensure stable cargo transportation, but also, if necessary, destroy the violator of Russia's maritime borders. In addition to radio electronic equipment and a heavy-duty hull onboard the "combat icebreakers" of Project 23550, it is possible to place missile weapons. Experts explain that behind the helicopter hangar and the platform can comfortably accommodate the launch containers of the Caliber-NK complex. According to experts, up to eight launchers can be placed on board.

However, the detainment and defeat of targets by rocket and artillery weapons are not all that a prospective ship will be capable of. Depending on the task, the ships of the project 23550 can be "retrofitted" with auxiliary equipment, through which it will be possible to freeze the ship from the ice captivity, and tow the intruder vessel. Among other things, two cranes with a carrying capacity of up to 28 tons each can be placed on board the ship, which can greatly facilitate the work not only for the ship's crew, but also will be of considerable help in the rescue (and any other) operations. The maximum range of 6 thousand nautical miles, the diversity of weapons.

According to Adm. Korolev, the patrol ship is built by decision of the defense minister in order to protect Russian frontiers at the strategic Arctic theater. "The ship is named after the famed Russian polar explorer Ivan Papanin. This will commit the crew to serve Russia faithfully", said the Navy commander. The second ship in the series will bear the name of Nikolai Zubov, another outstanding Russian polar researcher.

Admiralteyskie Verfi has a wide shipbuilding experience of such ships, for instance, the Ilya Muromets-class icebreaker is under construction as per schedule and currently passes mooring trials, said the shipyards vice president Andrei Bystrov. He assured the ship would be delivered on time.

The only combat icebreaker in the world now is Norways Coast Guard Ship, the Svalbard. Canada is also developing a series of ships of the Harry DeWolf class that are similar to the Norwegian ship. The Ivan Papanin will have more features than its foreign analogs. Its weapons will be able to inflict strikes on groups of ships and ground targets.

The Ivan Papanin will be armed with Kalibr-NK (Club) cruise missiles. Experts believe that eight missile launchers can be placed on the ships. The combat icebreakers will have the Open Stern concept, where the aft of the ship will have a free compartment with multiple removable modules. These modules will contain selected weapons such as Kalibr launchers, X-35 anti-ship missiles, and minesweeping armament. Under the Open Stern concept, warships are not highly specialized, but the military equation is altered thanks to the modules, which can be changed to contain different types of weapons.

In addition, the Project 23550 military icebreakers will be equipped with AK-176MA automatic naval guns. The gun is capable of firing up to 125 rounds per minute, effectively hitting targets at a distance up to 16 km. The AK-176MA is the first naval gun in the Russian Navy, made using stealth technology, which helps to reduce the visibility of the enemy vehicles radar. The ship will be equipped with a helipad for Ka-27s and a hangar for other helicopters and drones. In addition, two Raptor high-speed combat boats will be placed on the icebreakers.

In St. Petersburg, the Admiralty Shipyards shipyard solemnly launched the ice class patrol ship Ivan Papanin 28 October 2019. The new building is intended for the Northern Fleet and after completion of all tests and acceptance by the state commission will replenish the Arctic group. The lead ship of project 23550, the voyage of which will take place in high latitudes, is named after twice Hero of the Soviet Union Rear Admiral Ivan Dmitrievich Papanin, a famous Arctic explorer, doctor of geographical sciences.

In 2016, the Ministry of Defense signed a contract with Admiralty Shipyards JSC for the construction of two ice class patrol ships. Shipbuilders managed to build "Ivan Papanin" in just two and a half years. It is planned that he will enter the Russian Navy in 2023. According to the company, a year later, the laying of the second ship of project 23550 is scheduled at the Admiralty Shipyards. It will be named "Nikolai Zubov" in honor of the polar pilot, Hero of the Soviet Union, who participated in several high-latitude air expeditions.

The uniqueness of these surface ships lies in their versatility. They can guard the Arctic water resources, escort and tow detained vessels to the port, escort support vessels and support them. At the same time, patrol ships capable of breaking ice up to two meters thick and having an unlimited navigation area will be armed with a portable anti-aircraft missile system and artillery mount, so they can hit sea, coastal and air targets. The lead ship of project 23550 can also be used for scientific research in the ice of the Arctic. The combat icebreaker with a displacement of about 9,000 tons is designed for a speed of up to 18 knots, a cruising range of about 10 thousand miles and an autonomy of more than 60 days. The Arctic category is Arc7.

"Ivan Papanin" is the largest surface ship built in the modern [ie, post-Soviet] history of Russia.

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Page last modified: 07-11-2019 18:56:22 ZULU