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Russia to Build Cruise Liners for Arctic Tourism at Its Helsinki Shipyard

Russia's United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) is poised to begin production of sea ferries, cruise liners and yachts for Arctic tourism at its Helsinki shipyard, which is currently loaded with orders for the construction of icebreakers for the Russian shipping company Sovkomflot.

Icebreaker Polaris undergoing bollard pull tests as part of sea trials off Helsinki on 25 April 2016 - Sputnik International
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By its own admission, USC plans to resume the construction of cruise ships at Arctech Helsinki Shipyard situated in the Finnish capital, which was the shipyard's specialty until 2009.

According to USC spokesman, the company is currently negotiating with customers from Japan, Monaco and the Nordic countries. At present, however, USC chose not to disclose either the exact dates or the names of potential customers.

According to analyst Anna Krasavtseva of the Russian ship-building portal, Arctech Helsinki Shipyard is capable of producing cruise vessels with gross tonnage of up to 11,000 tons and a value of €130-150 million ($139-160mln), Russian economic portal RBC reported.

USC vice president for civil shipbuilding Yevgeny Zagorodniy told Russian news service RNS that Arctech Helsinki Shipyard is preparing for a period of sustainable development, given the recent revival of the Russian-Finnish trade relations following a protracted slump exacerbated by the sanctions war.

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USC also hopes to receive new orders for the construction of icebreakers after successfully concluding the Polaris icebreaker ordered by the Finnish shipping company Arctia. The brand new icebreaker, which runs on liquefied natural gas (LNG), was instantly dubbed "the world's most ecologically friendly in its class" and commenced its service in Finland's waters of the Gulf of Bothnia.

After Crimea's historic re-unification with Russia, USC was put on the US sanctions list, which was expected to pose difficulties for payment and finance issues. However, the sanctions pressure did not prevent Helsinki City from prolonging the land-lease contract with Archtech, which is wholly in Russian possession. According to Helsinki City Board member Hannu Oskala, Finland need not take US sanctions into account, since the shipyard solely concentrated on civilian vessels.

USC is a Russian state-owned shipbuilding company with about 80,000 employees and 60 shipyards, which was created in 2007 through a series of presidential decrees. In 2014, USC acquired full control over Arctic Helsinki Shipyard, which specialized in the construction of icebreakers.

​Arctech Helsinki Shipyard currently has 550 employees and is in the process of building six ice-breakers, with more on the order list. All of them, apart from the Polaris, are going to Russia. Five years ago, Archtech decided to specialize in Arctic shipbuilding.

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