Pick-up mission for Yamal

04 September 2009

A group of arctic researchers are aboard the nuclear-powered icebreaker Yamal in search of a new home.


After 11 months of operation their ice-floe station had drifted about 2500 kilometres across the Arctic Ocean from Vrangelya island north of Russia's far east to approach Greenland, where meltwater and cracking ice signalled the end of its useful life. Russia has operated stations like this continuously since the 1930s except for a 12-year period at the end of the Soviet era.


Yamal (Rosatom)
The crew of 'North Pole 36' in front of the Yamal (Image: Rosatom)


The Yamal was dispatched from Murmansk in mid-August to collect the 18 researchers, their dogs and some 150 tons of equipment and then find a suitable ice floe for the next station, probably near Siberia's Taymyr peninsular. The vessel is powered by two reactors and comes complete with a heated swimming pool, a cinema, two gymnasiums, two saunas and a basketball court as well as guard dogs to protect the crew from polar bears and rocket launchers to break up tough bits of ice.