Norway on Alert as Russian Nuclear-powered Ship Approaches

A Russian civilian nuclear-powered cargo ship, the Sevmorput, is sailing south into the Norwegian Sea en route to St. Petersburg, carrying 204 refrigerated containers of frozen fish from the Pacific aimed for the market in European Russia, the Barents Observer reports.

After sailing south along the coast of Norway through the Great Belt in Denmark and into the Baltic Sea, the world’s only remaining atomic cargo vessel will arrive in St. Petersburg by the end of this week.

“It’s crucial for Rosatomflot to expand the geography of our work,” says Mustafa Kaskha, director of the Murmansk-based, state-owned fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers.

This is the first time that Russia has sailed commercial cargo with a nuclear-powered vessel via the Arctic to St. Petersburg.

Sevmorput set sail from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatkiy in Russia’s Far East on Aug. 29, sailing along the Northern Sea Route before entering the Barents Sea on Sunday.

Russia informed Norwegian authorities about the coming cargo transport along the coast of Norway, the head of the High North Section of the Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA) Inger Margrethe Eikelmann said.

“We will bring this issue to attention at our next meeting with the Russians and ask if this is something there will be more of in the future,” Eikelmann said.

Rosatomflot, part of Russia’s state-run atomic energy agency Rosatom, says there will be two voyages with seafood from Russia’s Pacific region via the Arctic to St. Petersburg this autumn, and if successful, this route will be regular starting from next year.

Eikelmann said that the increasing number of voyages with nuclear-powered vessels along the coast of Norway is something the agency is taking into consideration as Norway updates its nuclear emergency preparedness.

“We cooperate with Finland and other Nordic counties in regards to emergency preparedness projects with Russia,” she added.