The Murmansk was a Soviet light cruiser project no. 68-bis. It was part of the Soviet (and later, the Russian) Navy’s Northern Fleet.
Construction began in Severodvinsk in 1953, and she was commissioned on September 22, 1955. It joined the 2nd Cruiser Division when it was formed in 1956.
The Murmansk was sold to India for scrap in 1994, but she ran aground off the coast of Norway, near Sørvær, after breaking free while being towed on December 24th. The seas in that area are known to be rough with extreme weather conditions.
Originally, the decision was made to allow the winter storms to destroy the parts that are above water.
In 2009, funding was provided to dismantle the ship, since it could no longer be towed due to its deteriorating condition. The largest demolition contractor in Scandinavia, AF Decom, built a breakwater and dry dock around the Murmansk to demolish it on site. In April 2012, the dry dock was sealed.
In mid-May, the dock was almost clear of the water. According to project manager and senior advisor Knut Arnhus of the Norwegian Coastal Administration, the decision was made to not remove all of the water to avoiding causing unnecessary stress on the hull. Construction equipment was brought in and the ship was torn apart piece by piece. The demolition was finished in 2013 with the pieces having been sent to waste and recycling facilities.
There is some debate over the possibility of radioactive substances on the ship. Some have claimed to find Polonium-210 aboard. Polonium-210 has a half-life of 138 days.
On the 24th of December, 1994, the Russian cruiser broke free while being towed, and partially sank outside a small village, on an island on the north coast of Norway. This seas are very rough and the area is subject to extreme weather conditions.
In short, the AF strategy consists of the dry dock demolition and removal of the wreck where it lies. This will be done by establishing breakwaters and constructing a dry dock around the “Murmansk” wreck. The water will then be pumped out of the dry dock so the wreck will be dry. Then construction machinery will then break down the cruiser, and sort different demolition materials to be shipped out to waste and recycling facilities.
“We have finally succeeded in getting the dock watertight and “Murmansk” is now out in the open. We have chosen not to drain the pool completely because we do not want to expose the construction of unnecessary stress. We can easily demolish most of the ship as it is situated now, says project manager and senior adviser Knut Arnhus in the Norwegian Coastal Administration according to their web site.
The wreck is in very bad condition since waves and hard weather has torn it for almost 20 years. The contractor will not try to get into the ship before it has been opened thoroughly from the outside, and then tear it apart piece by piece”.