ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, June 10 (UPI) -- The Russian navy's first new icebreaker in decades, the Ilya Muromets, was floated out during a ceremony Friday in St. Petersburg, the Tass news agency reports.
The diesel-electric lead ice-breaker's floating out was symbolic for Russia, as the nuclear-powered Lenin icebreaker was laid down the same slipway 60 years ago, Admiralty Wharves CEO Alexander Buzakov told Tass.
The Ilya Muromets will be transferred to the navy next year and other ice-breakers will be laid down in the slipway for Arctic operations, he said.
A decision on building a series of Ilya Muromets-class icebreakers will be made once the lead vessel's performance is assessed, United Shipbuilding Corporation head Alexei Rakhmanov told Tasss.
The Ilya Muromets was laid down in April 2015. It displaces 6,000 tons, features a 9,000 mile endurance and can operate autonomously for 60 days.
It can operate both as an icebreaker and a seagoing tug and patrol ship.
Russia and the United States are increasingly turning attention to their Arctic capabilities.
Russia's first ice-capable patrol ship will be laid down this year and commissioned by 2019, Ministry of Defense official Capt. Andrei Vernigora told Sputnik News Friday.
The Russian military is also set to receive five Mi-8AMTSh-VA helicopters for operations in the Arctic in the coming year that have been refitted for the unique environmental requirements there.
The White House announced a new Arctic initiative in September that includes accelerated acquisition of Coast Guard icebreakers.
The Senate's Fiscal 2017 defense bill also allocates $1 billion for icebreaker ship construction.