Russia’s Giant Nuclear-Powered Icebreaker Makes Maiden Voyage

The Arktika is expected to arrive at its future homeport of Murmansk in northwestern Russia in two weeks after undergoing tests of its performance en route.

Russia’s nuclear-powered icebreaker Arktika, touted as the most powerful of its kind and a symbol of Moscow’s Arctic ambitions, set off on its maiden voyage on Tuesday.

Designed to transport liquefied natural gas from the Arctic, the giant vessel is 173 meters (570 feet) long and 15 meters high.

“The unique domestically-built vessel will for the first time find itself in the extreme conditions of Arctic ice where it will have to confirm its status as the flagship of Russia’s icebreaker fleet,” said its constructors, the Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg.

Launched in 2016, it is part of a planned fleet of nuclear icebreakers aimed at significantly boosting freight traffic along Russia’s Arctic coast, making the passage between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans navigable all year round.

According to its constructors, the Arktika can cut through ice that is 2.8 meters (around 9 feet) thick.

Economic development of the Arctic is one of President Vladimir Putin’s key goals.

The Arctic holds huge oil and gas reserves that are being eyed by Russia and other countries including the United States, Canada and Norway.

Striking Dockers in Far East Russia Pelt New Management With Helmets

Striking dockers in Russia’s Far East capital of Vladivostok tossed their helmets at upper management in protest during an attempted negotiation Monday, the local VL.ru news website reported.

Video shows the Far East Shipping Company (FESCO) President Arkady Korostelev and Roman Kukharuk, the newly appointed manager of its subsidiary the Commercial Port of Vladivostok, attempting to walk toward an improvised stage under the rain of helmets. As the two managers turn to leave, some workers in the angry crowd can be seen attempting to grab Korostelev and hit him.

The workers had gathered for negotiations with Korostelev to end the strike but became outraged after he allegedly referred to them as “cattle” while walking through their ranks, VL.ru wrote.

FESCO representatives have called the workers’ actions Monday “unjustified” and vowed to file a criminal complaint over the helmet-throwing.

Port of Vladivostok employees went on strike last week after the company’s board fired port manager Zairbek Yusupov and appointed Kukharuk in his place.

The striking port workers believe Yusupov was ousted due to company politics and fear that working conditions will worsen under his replacement.

“Everyone was outraged with the news and gathered to show disagreement with the decision. Yusupov is a living example of how to build a stellar career in the shipping industry and to remain honest with both stakeholders and ordinary workers. He became a true leader for us and I hope we will be able to defend his place,” the striking head of the port supply department told VL.ru.

Port management has said it believes Yusupov instigated the strike and has threatened to pursue legal action against the striking workers.

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