Drifting hotel allows exploring Arctic comfortably
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Drifting hotel allows exploring Arctic comfortably

September 12, 2022

The unique ice-resistant platform North Pole will go on the first expedition.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. The ice-resistant self-propelled platform North Pole, in addition to solving scientific problems, will provide Russia with a strategic advantage in the Arctic ocean and will allow exploring the Arctic in comfort. Recall that the ship has passed the tests and in September will go on the first expedition.

The world’s first polar drifting station North Pole – 1 was organized by Soviet researchers under the leadership of Ivan Papanin in 1937. Four polar explorers accomplished a real feat – in nine months, living in a canvas tent insulated with eider down, they covered two thousand kilometers. Returning, the researchers got the title of the USSR Hero.

Until the onset of global warming, Soviet and Russian scientists regularly conducted research at drifting stations. In 2013, 16 polar explorers of the North Pole-40 expedition landed on an ice floe, but it collapsed rapidly. Scientists were evacuated, and since then global expeditions to drifting stations have not been conducted.

Now Russian scientists will study the Arctic aboard a comfortable drifting hotel.

According to the director of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute Alexander Makarov, the platform will ensure the safety of scientists. In addition, it became possible to deliver more equipment.

“The idea of ​​creating an ice-resistant self-propelled platform belongs to the Russian glaciologist Ivan Frolov, who, unfortunately, did not live to see it come to life. The ship was designed by the Nizhny Novgorod Design Bureau Vector, and the St. Petersburg Admiralty Shipyards built it in just three years. There are no the platform analogues in the world”, says Alexander Makarov.

The ship is a little shorter than a football field – 83.1 meters, its width is 22.5. The height from the keel to the top of the middle mast is 42.5 meters, which is equal to a 13-story building. Displacement is about 10.4 thousand tons. The power plant capacity is 4200 kilowatts, or about five thousand horsepower. The diesel engine accelerates the ship to 19 kilometers per hour by land standards. Fuel reserves will ensure autonomous operation of the platform for up to two years. The creators claim that the platform is designed to operate at temperatures up to minus 50 degrees and a humidity of 85 percent. The platform operation, according to the documents, is designed for 25 years. But now they are talking about its possible extension.

The ship’s hull design is rounded and optimally distributes the load from ice compression, so the platform is actually squeezed out to the surface. The American edition of The Drive called the ship “ugly”, but many readers disagreed.

The crew consists of 14 people. Captain Sergey Nesterov is an experienced polar explorer with 12 years of experience. The huge platform is controlled by a joystick-like steering wheel.

Scientists will live in single cabins with a bathroom, shower, and desk. The ship has a gym, sauna, a small cinema. The medical block equipment will allow the staff doctor to perform simple operations if necessary.

The polar explorers will have to spend on board shifts of three to four months, the Mi-8 helicopter will transport people and cargo to the station. There is a landing pad on the platform.

“There are 17 laboratories at the station. The platform allows studying the natural environment of the Arctic in a complex way – from the bottom of the Arctic ocean at a depth of about four thousand meters, through the entire thickness of the ocean, studying currents, water properties and ice, to the upper layers of the atmosphere and space”, said the of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute director Alexander Makarov.

The ship itself is also a research instrument. Sensors for determining ice load, deformation mechanics, ice destruction when interacting with the platform hull are built into the sides.

The platform will start its first trip on September 15 – the ship will leave Murmansk for the Novosibirsk islands region. On the border between the Laptev sea and the East Siberian sea, the platform will freeze into ice and start drifting towards Spitsbergen. Perhaps the ship will pass through the North Pole – it is impossible to accurately predict its route.

One of the first expedition missions is to learn how to predict the ice behavior in the region. Now Russia is turning to the global East. Container ships from China and other countries of the region could go along the Northern Sea Route, but so far this is not feasible.

The necessary infrastructure lack problem will be solved by the plan for the Northern Sea Route development until 2035, adopted in August, for which 1.8 trillion rubles will be allocated.

Earlier we told about new discoveries in the Arctic, previously unknown currents and colored snow.

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Text: Ekaterina Elkanova, Photo: the United Shipbuilding Corporation’s press center

September 12, 2022

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