Russia builds new research vessel | Polarjournal
The Ivan Frolov will be the fourth ship in the fleet of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute and will facilitate research projects on the high seas. It will also transport staff and equipment to Arctic and Antarctic stations (Photo: Roshydromet)

The ship is being built in St Petersburg at a cost of 40 billion rubles (€445 million). The contract was signed by Admiralty Shipyards and Roshydromet in March. It will be named after Ivan Frolov, a renowned polar explorer. It will be built in St Petersburg at Admiralty Shipyards as a combined tanker, icebreaker, passenger, cargo and research vessel. Construction is scheduled to be completed by 2028

Alexander Makarov, the head of the AARI said: “The new Russian research flagship has an exciting future. The ship will remain in service for 30 to 40 years, into the 2070s. So it will be part of big events related to Russian projects in the Arctic” (Photo: Roshydromet)

The new vessel will serve the fleet of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute and will be the new flagship of Russian polar science. The Ivan Frolov will become the fourth ship operated by the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute and will facilitate research projects on the high seas.

“The new research expedition ship Ivan Frolov will enable uninterrupted work of Antarctic expeditions. Russia has five stations in Antarctica that operate year-round, as well as five seasonal bases. The current ship that carries polar explorers and cargo to Antarctica is outdated, but there is still some time before the new ship is commissioned. The Ivan Frolov will function as a tanker, icebreaker, passenger ship, freighter and research vessel. Admiralty Shipyard was chosen because this St Petersburg-based shipbuilding company has a lot of experience. For example, they built the unique self-propelled North Pole platform, which is now sailing in the high Arctic latitudes,” said Alexander Kozlov, the natural-resources and environment minister.

The Mikhail Somov is a research vessel built in Ukraine in 1975 by the Kherson shipyard and is to be decommissioned after the Ivan Frolov is put into service. The Mikhail Somov made history when it became trapped in the ice while unloading cargo at the Soviet Russkaya station on 15 March 1985. Despite all efforts, her captain failed to free her from the ice. Seventy-seven of its crew of 130 were flown out by helicopter to ships beyond the ice edge. The icebreaker Vladivostok was sent south to rescue the trapped ship. The Mikhail Somov was not successfully freed until 26 July (Photo: AARI)

The Ivan Frolov will work on scientific projects ranging from seafloor exploration to the upper atmosphere and space, depending on the needs and priorities of research in polar latitudes.

It will be able to load and unload, large-format equipment weighing about 50 tons up to a distance of about 25 meters using on-board crane equipment.

The Ivan Frolov will be the largest ship of its class. It will create the conditions for the operation of five year-round polar stations and five field bases in Antarctica. The future of scientific research on the icy continent as well as the comfort of Russian scientists in polar environments depend on the Ivan Frolov.

The Akademik Fedorov is an AARI vessel built in Finland for the former Soviet Union and completed in 1987. It is named after Soviet polar explorer Yevgeny Fedorov, an academic who worked at the first Soviet ice drift station, North Pole-1. The Akademik Fedorov is scheduled to be taken out of service in a few years (Photo: AARI)

The Ivan Frolov is due to enter service by 2028 as the replacement for the Mikhail Somov and the Akademik Fedorov. It is expected to have a service life of at least 30 years

The Ivan Frolov will have two helicopters on board and include a hangar for weather protection and maintenance.

Ivan Evgenievich Frolov began his career at the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in 1971 after graduating from the Leningrad Hydrometeorological Institute, where he worked his way up from engineer in the Ice Regime and Forecasting Department. Between 1992 and 2017, he served as the institute’s director. In 2017, he was made scientific director, a position he held until his death in 2020 (Photo: AARI)

Named for an explorer

The ship’s namesake was geographer, professor, and member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. For 25 years he headed the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St Petersburg.

Mr Frolov initiated and organised the preparation of the publication, and was scientific editor of a two-volume work on the history of the Arctic Institute for the 100th anniversary of the AARI. He was also editor-in-chief of the journal Problems of the Arctic and Antarctic, was a member of the editorial board of a number of academic journals.

Mr Frolov died on December 17, 2020 after a serious illness.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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