Nuclear icebreaker "Lenin"

Discover the first-ever built nuclear icebreaker ship when you visit Murmansk. The ship named after Lenin is now a museum, representing a piece of heritage of the Soviet era, but it used to be quite the ice warrior back then.

The history

The nuclear icebreaker was built during the Soviet times and launched on December 1957. It took its first trip in September 1959. Building the ship was a strategic move from the Soviet government to guarantee they could make good use of the Northern Sea Route – between Russia's Far East and the European part of Russia –  and for the expeditions through the Arctic. It was ''key'' that the ships traveling wouldn't get stuck in the ice. The vessel was a major breakthrough in technology at the time. It was powered with nuclear propulsion that gave the strength to push and break the ice impressively. It is still a fantastic piece to see nowadays. In 1989, the ship ceased its operations and since then it has been stationed in the harbor of Murmansk. In recent times, it has been transformed into a museum.

Rooms you'll see

When you set foot in the ship, you will experience the different rooms where the crew used to work and leisure. There's a room for music and a smoking salon, a dining crew room, which also served as a cinema; the energy room; the medical unit featuring an operation room, and dental and x-ray facilities. You will find a small memorial exhibition dedicated to the crew. Plus, you will see the upper part of the structure of the nuclear reactors through observation windows. Lastly, you get to witness the captain's cabin.

Facts & Numbers

The icebreaker is 134-meters long – that is almost the length of one and a half soccer pitch. Also, it is 27-meters wide and 16-meters high. It has a helicopter landing area and there are more than 1,000 compartments. In its 30-years of service, the ship sailed around 654,400 nautical miles and led the way for 3741 vessels through the ice. Those miles equal the distance from the Earth to the moon, and back. The Lenin had only two commanders throughout its lifetime, and the crew was composed of 243 people. Boris Sokolov was the ship's second captain for 40 years.

Good to know

The tours are usually held in Russian, so make sure you book in advance an English guided tour. Nonetheless, travelers say it is worth the trip to admire the vessel and some of the exhibits inside do have English translations. The tour lasts about one hour and is held every two hours. Keep in mind that there are steep ladders and tight spaces, – characteristic of the design of the area – in case you are traveling with people with disabilities. Reaching the ship is an easy walk from the center. Take a walk via the railway station, pass the pedestrian bridge over the tracks and you'll see the harbor.