FSB’s new Arctic vessel criss-crosses northern waters, shows enhanced security presence in region

By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer - September 19, 2017

In a display of force and presence, the FSB’s new ice-protected coast guard vessel has arrested two fishing vessels in the Kara Sea. The trawlers are suspected of illegal fishing in the area and have been accompanied to Dikson, the port on the Kara Sea coast, state channel Vesti reports.

It is the first major voyage of Polyarnaya Zvezda, the vessel which was officially handed over to the FSB in January this year.

The ship has during its one month at sea sailed 5,300 nautical miles.

The Polyarnaya Zvezda is based in Murmansk and is a significant part of the FSB Coast Guard’s capabilities in the western part of the Russian Arctic. It is 93 meters (about 305 feet) long, 15 meters (about 49 feet) wide and has a deadweight of 3,200 tons. Top speed is 20 knots and it can operate autonomously for up to 60 days.

The vessel is built by the Zelonodolsk yard in Kazan, on the Volga. It was sent along Russian rivers to Kronstadt near St.Petersburg in May 2015. The Polyarnaya Zvezda is the lead ship of Project 22100.

The main asset of the vessel it its unique navigational-tactical complex and electro-powered engine, which allows it to save fuel on low speed,” the shipyard writes on its website.

The new ship comes as the FSB strengthens its role in law enforcement in Russian Arctic waters. A bill signed by President Putin in June 2016, gives the FSB the full prerogatives for law enforcement along the Northern Sea Route.