Nuclear powered ships were the future that never quite arrived. The Russian container ship/LASH carrier Sevmorput is the only remaining nuclear powered merchant ship and it is slated to be scrapped.
The vessel, built at the Zaliv yard in Kerch, Ukraine, was a unique contribution to the Soviet fleet of civilian nuclear vessels when entering service in 1988. Until then, the world had seen only three other nuclear powered civilian merchant ships, all of which ended up as failed experimental vessels. The 260 meter long and 61.000 ton deadweight “Sevmorput” was to show that the Soviet Union could extend its nuclear power capacities also into merchant shipping. The ship was built in a period of booming shipping in Soviet Arctic waters.
The “Sevmorput”, which also has powerful icebreaking capacities, for several years shipped in both international and Russian domestic waters. However, shipping along the Russian Northern Sea Route declined dramatically in the 1990s and the ship was soon blocked access to most international ports.
The vessel, which has been lying idle in the Atomflot base outside Murmansk for years, was on 31 July this year taken out of the Russian Ship Register. The unique ship will end up a scrap metal, experts in Murmansk confirm.