TechRussia's Arctic reach: New patrol ship Ivan Papanin leads the way

Russia's Arctic reach: New patrol ship Ivan Papanin leads the way

Patrol vessel Iwan Papanin during construction
Patrol vessel Iwan Papanin during construction
Images source: © Li.c CC0
Łukasz Michalik

30 June 2024 19:11, updated: 30 June 2024 20:42

Moscow regards the Arctic as a zone of Russian influence. The Kremlin demonstrates this to the world through symbolic gestures, such as leaving a Russian flag on the bottom of the Arctic Ocean and the development of forces designated for operations in the far north. An example is the new, large patrol ship of Project 23550, Ivan Papanin.

Following the recent launch of the Arctic patrol ship Sakhalin, the Russians have commenced sea trials of a significantly larger vessel designed for Arctic operations. This vessel is the large patrol ship Ivan Papanin – a unit of Project 23550 (Arktika).

Ivan Papanin, along with its twin ship currently under construction, Nikolay Zubov (as well as two identical units for the Russian border guard), represents a unique class of ships.

Arctic patrol ships of the Arktika type

This is an Arctic patrol ship whose full displacement is 9,400 tonnes, exceeding the displacement of many frigates. Its hull has been reinforced and adapted to break through ice up to 1.7 metres thick.

Ships of Project 23550 are 114 metres long and have a hull width of 18 metres. They are adapted for long voyages of up to 18,992 kilometres.

Arctic patrol ship Iwan Papanin
Arctic patrol ship Iwan Papanin© Russian Defence Forum

Although the ship can be operated by a crew of 60, its cabins can accommodate twice as many people—this reserve is in case of the need to embark soldiers, for example, but also for conducting rescue operations and picking up castaways thousands of kilometres from their own bases.

In addition to the conventional diesel propulsion, Arktika-class ships also have additional thrusters. This solution increases the ship's manoeuvrability, allowing it to rotate its hull while stationary.

Model of the patrol vessel project 23550
Model of the patrol vessel project 23550©

Patrol ship with Kalibr missiles

For units built for the needs of the Russian navy (the variant for the border guard is equipped differently), Project 23550 ships are – for patrol vessels – heavily armed.

In addition to the artillery armament of a bow-mounted 76 mm AK-176MA gun and two AK-630M CIWS anti-aircraft artillery systems, Project 23550 units can also carry up to eight Kalibr cruise missiles; however, their launchers are not permanently installed. The ship also has a hangar and flight deck for the Ka-27 shipboard helicopter.

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