Russia Developing Research Station Projects in Arctic

Murmansk hosted an official ceremony to launch the North Pole-41 expedition. A team of scientists and polar explorers from the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute will travel to the Arctic on the new North Pole ice-resistant self-propelled platform. The researchers will arrive at the drift site in early October, the press service of the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (Roshydromet) reports.

This platform has no analogues in the world, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his address to the participants in the official launch ceremony. He expressed hope that the North Pole platform would make a serious contribution to the development of the Russian research fleet and also provide a powerful technological breakthrough and strengthening Russian science. “The current expedition will turn a memorable page in the history of Arctic development and contribute to productive research in matters concerning climate, ecology, biology, oceanology, and other important disciplines,” Putin said.

The North Pole platform will be able to conduct geological, acoustic, geophysical, oceanographic, and other essential studies to ensure the safety of navigation along the Northern Sea Route, among other things. The main goal of the expedition is to conduct a comprehensive study of the Arctic in the ‘atmosphere – ice cover – ocean’ system.

“Arctic research is an absolute priority for Russian science as a whole and as part of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council in particular. The commissioning of the new self-propelled ice-resistant platform will enable Russian scientists to obtain both unique and comprehensive data about the natural environment of the Arctic as well as forecasting tools for successful navigation along the Northern Sea Route. The North Pole, along with the Snezhinka station, another project Russian scientists are implementing, will serve as the foundation for new approaches to the development of the Russian Arctic,” said Anton Kobyakov, Adviser to the Russian President and Executive Secretary of the Organizing Committee for Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021–2023.

Construction on the ice-resistant self-propelled platform began in April 2019. On 24 August, the vessel departed the Admiralty Shipyards and sailed to the Great Port of St. Petersburg for additional loading. The North Pole is a unique vessel that will make it possible to conduct year-round research in the high latitudes of the Arctic Ocean. The platform can drift for up to two years along with the ice mass: it will arrive at the drift site on water or thin ice, after which it will freeze into the ice. The vessel’s safety is guaranteed by the special shape of the hull, which optimally distributes the compression load and actually pushes the vessel onto the ice surface.

The vessel is structured to accommodate the maximum equipment and supplies needed for the two-year expedition. In addition, the platform contains 15 laboratories as well as equipment to create research sites directly on the ice. The platform can accommodate 34 researchers and 14 team members at the same time. The North Pole will be the third vessel of the scientific expeditionary fleet of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.

The North Pole platform was built at the Admiralty Shipyards based on orders from Roshydromet as part of the state programme for the socioeconomic development of the Arctic zone. Admiralty Shipyards and Roshydromet signed a contract for the construction of the platform in April 2018. The keel of the vessel was laid on 10 April 2019.

Russia is chairing the Arctic Council in 2021–2023. A cross-cutting priority of Russia’s chairmanship is to ensure responsible governance for the sustainable development of the Arctic. In addition, one of Russia’s goals during this period is to enhance the efficiency of scientific activities and the practical applicability of its results in the region. Russia is committed to optimizing the use of scientific infrastructure and promoting the use of new technologies and best practices in joint projects with other countries. Based on its respect for international law, Russia intends to promote collective approaches to the development of the Arctic with a social, economic, and environmental balance. The Roscongress Foundation organizes the events of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council.