Lenin (icebreaker)

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The icebreaker Lenin, former St. Alexander Nevsky
The icebreaker Lenin, former St. Alexander Nevsky.
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Alexander
Builder: Armstrong Whitworth, Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Yard number: A/W 905
Laid down: June 1916
Launched: 23 December 1916
Completed: June 1917
Commissioned: September 1917
Decommissioned: 1919
Fate: Handed over to White Russian forces, 1919
Soviet Union
  • Lenin (c.1919-1957)
  • Vladimir Ilich Lenin (1957-1977)
Namesake: Vladimir Lenin
Acquired: c.1919
Out of service: 1968
Fate: Scrapped, 1977
General characteristics
Type: Icebreaker
Tonnage: 3,375 GRT

Lenin was a Russian icebreaker originally built in England for the Russian Empire, launched in 1916, which later served in the Royal Navy during the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, and was eventually returned to the Soviet Union to serve through World War II, until finally scrapped in 1977.

Ship history

The ship, ordered by the Russian Empire, was laid down in June 1916 by Armstrong Whitworth at Newcastle upon Tyne as the St. Alexander Nevsky, after Russian statesman and military hero Alexander Nevsky.[1] Her construction was supervised by Russian naval architect and author Yevgeny Zamyatin.[2] The ship was launched on 23 December 1916, and completed in June 1917. By then though the Russian Empire had ceased to exist following the February Revolution, and the ship was requisitioned by the Royal Navy and commissioned as HMS Alexander in September 1917. Alexander served in the North Russia campaign, and was handed over to White Russian forces when the British withdrew in October 1919.[1]

In Russian service

The ship must have been soon taken by the Bolsheviks, for in 1921 the Norwegian sailor and Arctic explorer Otto Sverdrup commanded the ship, now named Lenin, at the request of the Soviet government, when he mounted his fourth and last expedition in Arctic Siberian waters. He led a convoy of five cargo ships on an experimental run through the Kara Sea to the mouths of the Ob and Yenisei Rivers. The ships reached their destinations and returned safely. This was considered an important step in the development of the Kara Sea sector of the Northern Sea Route.[3]

In 1937 Lenin was trapped in ice. She and her convoy of five ships spent an enforced winter in the Laptev Sea. They were finally rescued by the icebreaker Krasin in August 1938.[4]

During World War II the Lenin took part in Russian convoys in the Arctic.[1] In 1942 the Lenin was part of a convoy spotted at the Mona Islands in the Kara Sea by a Kriegsmarine Arado Ar 196 during Operation Wunderland. The heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer rushed to find it, but bad weather, fog, and ice saved Lenin from destruction.[5]

The Lenin continued in service during the Cold War, but in 1957, when the nuclear-powered icebreaker Lenin was launched, it was renamed Vladimir Ilich Lenin. The ship was hulked in 1968, and finally scrapped in 1977.[1]

In popular fiction

In his dystopian novel We, Zamyatin refers to the specifications of St. Alexander Nevsky in the names of some of his characters.[2]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Requisitioned Auxiliary - Alexander". historicalrfa.org. 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Myers, Alan. "Zamyatin in Newcastle". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 16 June 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (updates articles by Myers published in Slavonic and East European Review)
  3. Barr, William. "Arctic Profile : Otto Sverdrup (1854-1930)" (PDF). Arctic. Arctic Institute of North America. 37 (1): 72–73. doi:10.14430/arctic2169. Retrieved 16 June 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Barr, William (March 1980). "The Drift of Lenin's Convoy in the Laptev Sea, 1937-1938" (PDF). Arctic. 33 (1): 3–20. doi:10.14430/arctic2543. Retrieved 2008-07-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Operation Wunderland, August 1942". allworldwars.com. 2011. Retrieved 16 June 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>