5 Dec 1957, launched the nuclear-powered icebreaker “Lenin”

5 декабря 1957 года спущен на воду атомный ледокол «Ленин»

The Soviet Union sent into space the first satellite and the first cosmonaut, but also created the world’s first nuclear-powered icebreaker, named Lenin. In its creation took part the entire Soviet people, contributed and of the RSFSR and the Ukrainian SSR and other Soviet republics.


Given the importance of the Northern sea route and Arctic development, the USSR needed a powerful icebreaker, capable of providing long-term navigation. In 50-ies of the Arctic still worked pre-revolutionary icebreakers with steam engines. During the great Patriotic war, the Soviet Union under lend-lease received from America three diesel electric icebreakers, but returned them in 1951. Diesel icebreakers was able to work up to 50 days, while the fuel supply amounted to one-third of the mass of the vessel. A little autonomy led to the fact that the court was captured in ice and wintered in polar ice because of the end of the fuel supply. The task was to create their own icebreakers, capable of operating without refueling for a long time.

5 декабря 1957 года спущен на воду атомный ледокол «Ленин»

The signature is a Schematic view of the icebreaker “Lenin”

20 November 1953 the Council of Ministers adopted a decree on the construction of nuclear-powered icebreaker, which was commissioned TSKB “Arctic”. The chief designer was the peasant son Vasily Neganov, a native of Vyatka province, a nuclear power plant designed under the guidance of the son of rural teachers from the village’ka pushkarka under Arzamas Igor Afrikantov, and scientific Director of the project was academician Anatoly Alexandrov, who was born in the family of employees near Kiev. For the ship was specially designed three reactors of OK-150, but their design was not very successful, so in 1967 they were replaced by two reactors of the OK-900. During the day, the submarine spent a total of 45 grams of nuclear fuel.

The laying of the ship took place in 1956 at the Leningrad shipbuilding plant. In the construction of the icebreaker was attended by over 300 companies and research institutes all over the Union. The turbine generator was manufactured in Kharkov, motors Leningrad “the Electric power” the turbines at the Kirov factory. A team of scientists and engineers who created the icebreaker was awarded the Lenin prize, many participants of the construction received awards and medals.

5 декабря 1957 года спущен на воду атомный ледокол «Ленин»

The construction of the icebreaker “Lenin” at the shipyard, 1957

5 Dec 1957 the icebreaker Lenin was launched
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In order to reach the Gulf of Finland, the ship had to pass through the sea channel, the depth of which was 9 m, and draught of the icebreaker – 10 m. At the meeting, assembled on this occasion, we considered various options. It was proposed to withdraw the vessel on the pontoons, but the head of the service of hydrography Aaron Leibman suggested to rear Admiral Joseph Kuznetsov is a simple solution. He advised to wait for the tide at which the water level in the Neva rises up to 3 meters. Kuznetsov approved this option and ordered Leibman to Express everything in writing. Waited more than a month. Finally Aron Abramovich was summoned to the KGB and asked where the promised tide. Leibman went on to tell that natural phenomena do not depend on him, and the tide must be, to that he replied that if his predictions are correct, then it is not to be envied. Already descending into the lobby, Aaron Abramovich spent his colleague, who happily reported that the water arrives. Pleased Leibman went back to the office and reported: the tide began. “You see, we had to deal with this issue, and the water just came,” he answered.

The water rose to 2.7 m and lasted 2 hours and 20 min. For two hours icebreaker managed to get to the Bay. During the canal began heavy snowfall, but installed on the ship navigation equipment were allowed to keep the course accurate to within a few meters.

This story was told rear Admiral Aaron Abramovich Leibman in Boston at a meeting with the Soviet delegation. After the collapse of the USSR, he moved to live with his family in the United States.

5 декабря 1957 года спущен на воду атомный ледокол «Ленин»

Icebreaker “Lenin” on the RAID in Leningrad,1959

Refinement of the icebreaker lasted for two years – from 1958 to 1959. During this time, it installed a nuclear power plant, conducted the test, did internal furnish valuable wood. Since the ship could be in Autonomous sailing for over six months, it had created all the conditions for the long life of the crew. The icebreaker was a library with a reading room, club, cinema room, lounge, several cabins and dining rooms, a galley with a bakery, a medical center with medical, physiotherapy and dental clinics, operating room, pharmacy and laboratory. To service the sailors had a Barber shop, baths, Shoe and tailor shops, Laundry.

5 декабря 1957 года спущен на воду атомный ледокол «Ленин»

5 декабря 1957 года спущен на воду атомный ледокол «Ленин»

5 декабря 1957 года спущен на воду атомный ледокол «Ленин»

The interior of the icebreaker “Lenin”

12 Sep 1959 (according to others 15 September), the icebreaker “Lenin” went on sea trials. The first captain of the ship was the former captain of the “Yermak,” Paul Ponomarev. Who was at that time on an official visit to the United States, Nikita Khrushchev stated: “Our new vessel will not only break the ice-ocean and ice of the cold war.”

During the test the first submarine was visited by many guests. Among them was Prime Minister of great Britain Harold Macmillan, Vice-President Richard Nixon, the President of Finland Urho Kekkonen and other politicians and businessmen. Later on it also visited Fidel Castro and Yuri Gagarin.

5 декабря 1957 года спущен на воду атомный ледокол «Ленин»

Fidel Castro in Murmansk

December 3, 1959, the icebreaker “Lenin” was commissioned to the Ministry of the Navy and went to his first voyage around Scandinavia to Murmansk port. In 1991, 3 December was declared the Day of the nuclear icebreaking fleet of Russia.

5 декабря 1957 года спущен на воду атомный ледокол «Ленин»

Icebreaker “Lenin” in the ice

Length of the world’s first icebreaker was 134 m, the width – 27.6 m, the displacement of 16,000 t Capacity of a nuclear installation is 32.4 megawatts, or 44 thousand horsepower. The speed of the icebreaker was 18 knots in clean water (33.3 km/hour), and 2 knots in ice thickness of 2 meters. On the upper deck of the vessel had a helicopter ice reconnaissance. The crew consisted of 243 people. In 1961, the captain of the submarine was born in Kostroma in the family of a carpenter, Boris Makarovich Sokolov, who stayed in this position for almost 40 years. During its operation the icebreaker passed 654,4 thousands of miles and spent 3741 through the ice the ship.

5 декабря 1957 года спущен на воду атомный ледокол «Ленин»

The control room of the icebreaker “Lenin”

During the operation of the icebreaker have been two serious accidents. The first was in February 1965 when the vessel was on planned repair. The error operators of a nuclear reactor active zone at the time left without the cooling water, leading to overheating and deformation of 60% of the fuel elements. The damaged reactor unit were cut and placed in a special container, which was subsequently sunk in the Gulf of Tsivolki the Eastern shore of the New Earth. The ship was repaired and it returned to the Arctic.

5 декабря 1957 года спущен на воду атомный ледокол «Ленин»

The control center reactor unit of the icebreaker “Lenin”

The second accident happened in 1967. After loading new nuclear fuel assemblies there was a leak in the piping the third cooling circuit. To fix it failed, so it was decided to remove all of the nuclear unit and sink it in the sea. Nuclear elements are removed, and the reactor compartment filled hardening mass. Then the ship was towed in the Gulf of Tsivolki. Here began a unique operation divers. They are for two days cut out the bottom of the vessel under the reactor compartment and cut off the side of the bulkhead. On the jumpers, who continued to keep the reactor laid Vzryvprom. The entry in the logbook dispassionately reports: “on 19 September 1967 produced the undermining of ammunition, the design is separated from the hull of the icebreaker and sank. Icebreaker surfaced, reducing sediment about 2.5 meters. Then it was towed to the Kola Bay to recover, during which was installed a new power plant type OK-900 with two reactors”.

After the repairs in 1970, the icebreaker returned to his duties.

In 1989, the icebreaker “Lenin” was decommissioned and put on eternal Parking in Murmansk. In 2005 it was turned into a Museum.

5 декабря 1957 года спущен на воду атомный ледокол «Ленин»

“Lenin” with us. On eternal Parking in Murmansk

The story of the Russian nuclear Navy is just beginning. Russia is the only country in the world with a nuclear icebreaker fleet. In 1975 the water was lowered a nuclear-powered icebreaker “Arktika”, and in 1978 – “Siberia”. Now icebreaker fleet consists of six nuclear-powered ships: “Russia”, “Soviet Union”, “Yamal”, “50 years of Victory”, “Taimyr” and “Vaygach” and atomic container carrier “Sevmorput”. Under construction are three more super submarine project 10510 “Leader”. All this allows to provide year-round navigation along the Northern sea route.
Andriy NAZARENKO

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