Arctic expedition diary, blog one

RIA Novosti, PUBLISHED October 02, 2010

This is the first blog from RIA Novosti correspondent Alexander Stelliferosvky, who went to the northern port of Murmansk to take part in a month-long research expedition in the Arctic.


RIA Novosti correspondent Alexander Stelliferovsky on board Rossiya icebreaker,
(c) RIA Novosti. Alexander Stelliferovsky

We're setting out tomorrow around 11 a.m. after a visit by [Deputy Prime Minister] Sergei Ivanov and possibly a news conference.

A brass band is expected to give us a send-off.

There are 15 members of the SP38 polar expedition on board the Arktika-class nuclear-powered icebreaker Rossiya, 22 reporters and about 50 technical support personnel, including construction workers and a helicopter team (eight in all). There is also an unspecified number of a "send-off team" members.

They say the ship is filled to capacity. I heard some crew members complain they were ordered to share rooms they used to have all to themselves to accommodate the guests. Nevertheless, everyone seems to be happy and relaxed.

The Murmansk port for the nuclear icebreaker fleet is a high security facility and is said to be guarded by the Federal Protection Service (FSO) that also guards the Kremlin and its denizens. No one may leave the ship and go out to the city without permission plus a staff member to escort you out and back in, but then exiting and (re)entering it is like crossing the border with passport control, baggage inspection and so on.

None of us has got a chance to see the city.

The ship is spotlessly clean. Notices in Russian and English warn those who throw waste overboard will be fined. On middle deck there are large differently colored containers for "food wastes," plastic, glass, etc.

Alcohol is strictly off limits. Four construction workers were caught trying to sneak in some booze onboard yesterday and lost their monthly bonuses as a result.

Right behind us the Taimyr icebreaker is berthed, getting ready for a new journey.

Rossiya will deliver a drifting research station, the Severny Polyus [North Pole] 38, to an ice floe, to carry out a study on the Arctic's water area and climate conditions.

The entire journey is expected to take around 25 days.

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