Atomic icebreakers have added many pages to the fleet’s history book. The first atomic icebreaker “Lenin” commissioned on December 03, 1959 made it possible to revolutionize the approach to increasing the time if navigation in the Arctic and to significantly enlarge the volume of cargoes shipped through the Northern Sea Route. It became obvious that atomic icebreakers open new horizons in the development of Arctic. In 1961 for the first time in history the drifting polar station “North Pole-10” was disembarked from i/b “Lenin” onto the ice and assembled with the help of the crew. 16 drifting automated meteostations were placed along the ice edge during the same navigation. In 1971 i/b “Lenin” together with i/b “Vladivostok” performed a high latitude transit voyage from Murmansk to the eastern area of the Arctic. In 1976 i/b “Lenin” performed the super-early voyage and assisted mv “Pavel Ponomarev” in supplying four thousand tons of cargo for the gas industry of Yamal Peninsula. This voyage was called The First Yamal Experimental. Powerful atomic icebreakers made the navigation in the western part of the Arctic year-round since 1978.
The most outstanding achievement of the atomic icebreaking fleet belongs to i/b “Arktika” and her crew. On August 17, 1977 she was the first to reach the North Pole sailing in ice on her own. In 1983 i/b “Arktika” managed to avert the dire consequences of anomalously hard navigating conditions in the eastern area of the Northern Sea Route. Thanks to the icebreaker’s crew professional work the freezing vessels and seamen were rescued and the cargo was delivered to the destination point in time.
Atomic icebreaker “Sibir” performed at least two remarkable voyages. In 1978 the icebreaker assisted transit voyage of mv “Kapitan Myshevskiy” along the whole length of the Northern Sea Route from West to East. In 1987 the same icebreaker not just reached the North Pole, but also took onboard the personnel of the research station SP-27 and provided deployment of the new SP-29 station.
Atomic icebreaker “Rossiya” was the first to sail to the North Pole with tourists onboard in 1990. These voyages became regular in the summer season and were performed by i/b “Sovetskiy Soyuz”, “Yamal” and recently by the newest atomic icebreaker “50 Let Pobedy”. “Rossiya” and “Yamal” received a very important order in 1994 to release a caravan of vessels caught in the ice trap. The situation that year was very much similar to the one in 1983. Among the most difficult voyages is the one carried out in November-December 1998 when i/b “Sovetskiy Soyuz” piloted tanker “Uikku” with fuel for the population of the eastern Arctic.
Civil atomic fleet has raised a lot of outstanding seafarers whose names are written into history books. Those are the captains – Heroes of Socialist Labour Boris Sokolov, Yuriy Kuchiev, Anatoliy Lamehov, Commander of two Lenin’s Orders Vasiliy Golokhvastov, Sigfried Vibah, Vladimir Kochetkov and others. Spectacular achievements in the formation of atomic icebreaking fleet belong to chief engineers – mechanics Heroes of Socialist Labour Alexander Sledzyuk and Oleg Pashnin, Victor Mizgirev, State Prize Winner head of control equipment and engineering service Anatoliy Adrianov, chief engineer – mechanic of atomic steam-producing plant Vladimir Karateev, chief electrician Igor Domahin and others. For many years the USSR State Prize Winner Leonid Danilov was the chief engineer for atomic power plants in Murmansk Shipping Company. This list of names can be continued even further.
Repair and intermediate technical maintenance of atomic fleet is impossible without a dedicated enterprise which has necessary facilities and equipment. As it was said before, “Atomflot” was started as a post-production base for the “Admiralty Shipyards” tasked with the construction of the icebreaker “Lenin”. To prepare for the icebreaker’s first call at her new homeport a wooden berth was constructed capable of taking not more than five tons. Anchor tanks were placed in the roads. Thereupon in 1960 a small floating repair shop equipped only with the tools of outmost importance arrived to the North. But most of all the base needed people. Specialists from all over the country temporarily moved to Murmansk to complete the work on the first atomic icebreaker on-site.
Special governmental commission comprised of representatives from a dozen of ministries had been long and thoroughly looking for the place to build Base-92. It was important to position it close to the roads and other shipyards while taking into consideration the requirements for nuclear and radiation safety that were formed at that time. Finally a bay near the cape Pinagoriy close to the military shipyard “Sevmorput” was chosen. Initially the enterprise was to be based on the lands owned by the Ministry of Defense. There was time when the Ministry of Maritime Fleet tried to place an order for repairing and maintaining atomic icebreakers at the military fleet sites. But the two sides did not agree on the cost. On March 01, 1968 the government adopted the decision to construct three powerful atomic icebreakers of “Arktika” type and the future development of the repair and maintenance base was determined.
The order of the Council of Ministers of USSR followed the same March which sanctioned the construction of the major coastal enterprise to provide repair and maintenance of civil atomic fleet. “Soyuzmorniiproekt” of the Ministry of Maritime Fleet was ordered to design the dedicated enterprise in 1968. The institutes of the Ministry of Shipbuilding Industry and Ministry of Medium Machinery also took part in the work.
The work was begun with the construction of the permanent berth for the atomic icebreaker “Lenin” – the only nuclear-powered icebreaker built to the moment. The mooring line then continued to be formed in both directions from the first berth up to the present length of more than a kilometer. The repair and maintenance facilities of the enterprise which was now part of Murmansk Shipping Company were put into operation block by block. The berths, new canteen, warehouse, boiler plant and several basic production facilities came first. Facilities of “A” area meant for service and repair of nuclear power plants were put in commission afterwards. The multistoried administrative building, garage, auxiliary workshops block and other objects were set in operation later.
The Honorary citizen of hero city Murmansk Anver Ibragimovich Tumparov was the director of the enterprise for almost thirty years though everyone addressed him as Andrey Ivanovich. He became the head of “Atomflot” on September 12, 1968 when the future of the enterprise was determined. These are Tumparov’s words: “I had a walk over the territory, looked through the list of so called fixed assets, visited four buildings in Dezhnev Street that belonged to the enterprise. They were wooden houses with forty two flats and were used mainly as dormitories. I also visited the village of Lower Rosta where there was another dormitory belonging to the enterprise in the Monchegorsk Street. This village was also known by the name Bulganin’s village because the money to erect the village were allocated by the member of Central Committee of CPSU and the deputy to the High Council of USSR N.A. Bulganin. By the way, Lower Rosta was positioned high on top of a hill near the shipyard “Sevmorput” (Shipyard #35) despite the name. There is neither dormitory nor Monchegorsk Street left here now. They were replaced by the road to RTP “Atomflot”. This inspection of the buildings in Rosta and everything at the base left me dissatisfied because that was obviously not enough. There were 68 people working at the base at that time. Among them were two engineers (director and mechanic), personnel manager, secretary, two accountants and five production workers. The others were junior operating staff: storekeepers, stokers, cleaners”.
These were the human and productive resources with which a former security committee employee, maritime supervisor and then the head of marine fleet shipyard began developing the unique enterprise dedicated to serve civil atomic fleet. In the following 28 years his life was literary divided between work at the base and travels to Moscow where the decisions vital for the atomic icebreaking fleet were adopted. FUSE “Atomflot” had difficult time in the turbulent period when the economic and social system in Russia was reformed but managed to overcome the challenges and became a stable and successful company.