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  • Flashy Flagships of Cold War CooperationThe Finnish-Soviet Nuclear Icebreaker Project

Nuclear icebreakers have been built in two countries. One, the Soviet Union, was a nuclear power and an arctic maritime country; the other, Finland, was neither. This article examines the Finnish nuclear icebreaker project that stemmed from postwar nuclear enthusiasm in 1961, produced two shallow draft nuclear icebreakers in the 1980s and, after being a celebrated technological and political success, failed to survive end of the Cold War. The project was initiated by a private shipyard in a neutral country but, this article argues, it was realized only because it became a site of Cold War technopolitics in Finnish-Soviet relations. However, it was the active role of the private shipyard, forging the nuclear icebreaker project to be used as a political tool, which made the exceptional and expensive project materialize, even though most other civilian nuclear dreams gradually withered away.


In the spring of 1988 an occasional seafarer sailing in the archipelago of Helsinki would have encountered the newest addition to the Soviet atomic fleet: the nuclear icebreaker Taymyr. This was, however, not Russian technology, but Finnish. The icebreaker had been designed and built at the Helsinki shipyard in the downtown of the Finnish capital and was now ready to sail off to Soviet waters. Before leaving Finland, this 150-meter-long giant was, for a moment, the center of journalistic attention. [End Page 347] After having demonstrated "its extraordinary qualities by trying to tow away an entire island," she was rightfully nominated as the shipyard's "greatest achievement to date."1 Indeed, Taymyr and her sister ship Vaygach, the only two nuclear-powered icebreakers built outside the Soviet Union, were unique in the Cold War history of technology. Nuclear ships, military and civilian ships alike, were complex projects of national importance that had far-reaching political virtues beyond pure technical use. That a nuclear superpower ordered these imposing vessels from its small neighbor instead of building them itself was unprecedented. Also unprecedented was that a private Finnish shipyard built these ships at all. The initial idea of a Finnish-built nuclear icebreaker had been conceived already in 1961, during the ubiquitous postwar nuclear enthusiasm, together with several other civilian nuclear shipbuilding projects in Scandinavia and elsewhere.2 Unlike most utopian fantasies, these two came true. As a neutral country and a latecomer in both nuclear technology and modern shipbuilding, Finland would eventually join the United States, the Soviet Union, Germany, and Japan in launching civilian nuclear vessels.

Historians of technology have long been interested in the mutual shaping of political interests and technological development. The Cold War years especially witnessed governmental uses of technology as instruments of power and building blocks of modernity, in a scale and scope that distinguished that period from the time before and after.3 "Technopolitics" is understood here as defined by Gabrielle Hecht: "the strategic practice of designing or using technology to constitute, to embody or to enact political goals" Technopolitics were strikingly manifested in such iconic Cold War "flashy flagship" projects as missiles, nuclear weapons, and the space race.4 Political patronage, governmental demand, and public funding initiated and retained large-scale technological and scientific projects, many of which would not have been possible (so quickly, if at all) without the politicized context of international competition and confrontation.

Nuclear technologies particularly were always embedded in military and political discourses. Political and academic figures, as well as imaginaries in popular culture, treated nuclear things as something extraordinary. This exceptionalism went beyond political or cultural rhetoric. "Nuclearity," a technopolitical parameter of being nuclear, provided more funding, more stature, and more power compared to non-nuclear sciences, [End Page 348] technologies, or states.5 Although governments, scientists, and the media perceived nuclear technology in distinctive ways in different countries, at a fundamental level, they all shared the fears and the hopes of harnessing the atom.6

This article participates in the exploration of technopolitics with a case that is in many ways located on the edge of the Cold War historiography. Instead of competition, it presents a case of cooperation; instead of government patronage, it has a private shipyard at its core; instead of big countries using technology as a tool of power, it focuses on the strategic practices of a small country using technology to deal with its strong neighbor.

The present study argues that the Finnish nuclear icebreakers were built to be objects of international cooperation in the Cold War context of conflicts and controversy. The state-level political interests shaped the technology development project of a profit-driven industrial company and, on the other hand, the privately initiated nuclear icebreaker project provided instruments for state-level political affairs. The postwar dream of peaceful nuclear propulsion power was materialized in the Finnish-built, ice-strengthened steel hulls and the Soviet pressurized water reactors at the end of the Cold War because the Finnish shipyard had, over years, carefully forged it to satisfy various political, economic, and technical needs in the two countries. The Finnish nuclear icebreakers project also adds to the discussion of nuclearity: What did it mean for an icebreaker to be nuclear in a country that had no political leeway or technological justifications to think about itself as a nuclear state? Being nuclear made the icebreaker project exceptional. The meaning of nuclearity derived from the international development but was interpreted in the local context. Even though the object of discussion, the nuclear icebreaker, remained almost untouched, its technopolitical value altered throughout the Cold War.

By turning the primary attention to the agency of a private shipbuilding company, this article emerges also from the recent work of transnational history of technology, underlining the multipolar and multi-level interaction involved when technology crosses borders.7 Economic and social historians in particular have pointed out the variety of motives and interests that shaped Cold War interaction across the Iron Curtain.8 Nevertheless, [End Page 349] if the prime driving force was not a state, how was the nuclear icebreaker project about Cold War technopolitics at all? Was it merely an endeavor of engineers and business executives, operating in a political landscape during the decades that happened to coincide with the international conflict we call the Cold War? A clear line of demarcation between political and commercial interests in big technological projects was often difficult to draw. This article argues that in Finnish-Soviet relations, it was impossible. Economic and technological factors co-shaped the nuclear icebreaker project, accompanied by state-level strategic considerations and personal political aspirations. Here, I refer to the Cold War technopolitics as the use of political arguments and meanings that directly or indirectly stemmed from the international conflict and competition between the two superpower-led blocs from the late 1940s until the late 1980s. That private economic aspirations or personal technological enthusiasm inaugurated the project did not make the development process less political.

Finally, the article encompasses insights from the Finnish-Soviet Cold War relationship coined in the concept of "Finlandization." Literally meaning "becoming like Finland," it refers to the influence of a big, powerful country in the internal development of a weaker neighboring country, and to the concessions a small country is ready to make when compromising its national sovereignty with political stability and economic prospects.9 The Finnish Cold War foreign affairs were dictated by the 1948 signed Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, the main motive of which was to guarantee that the Finnish territory would not be used against the Soviet Union. Formally neutral, but always considerate towards the Soviets, Finland balanced between the two blocs. As a small, neutral country seeking domestic and international stability, Finland had not the luxury of being ideological without being pragmatic at the same time. In this way, the Finnish nuclear icebreaker project refines understanding of the intermingling of political, economic, and technological power.

Cold War scholars studying other countries have shown how the weaker parties—small, poor, or newly independent countries—were not just passive pawns in the superpower game but able to proactively enact their own aims.10 Despite the glaring discrepancy between the political rhetoric of Finnish-Soviet peaceful coexistence and the actual Soviet restrictive maneuvers, the special and close relationship with the Soviet Union also had undeniable economic advantages. The Finnish heavy engineering industry especially benefitted from its privileged position in the vast Soviet markets. Political and economic restrictions and opportunities were closely interwoven.11 By combining archival sources from both public [End Page 350] and private archives, engineering journals, international newspapers, and oral history, this article seeks a finer-grained understanding of how private industry creatively adapted to these opportunities and restrictions when Finland navigated the Cold War.12

Launching Maritime Nuclearity

Nuclear technology in the early Cold War was not just a promise of total military destruction but also of endless civilian energy. It invoked a vast and, at times, weird range of technical fantasies, from nuclear trains and airplanes to typewriter-sized reactors for households.13 Soon the superpowers recognized the potential propaganda value in the peaceful application of nuclear energy, and they were accompanied by other countries that considered themselves modern. Nuclear technology became an important instrument to enact cultural and political as well as economic and technical goals.14

While the Scandinavian countries Sweden, Denmark, and Norway entered the Atomic Age supported by their official and unofficial Western allies, the Finns were still recovering from the war and struggling with political and economic problems. Industrial reconstruction, standardization, and rationalization dominated Finnish scientific and technological discussions instead of the breakthroughs in nuclear physics.15 Finland could not even dream of being a nuclear power without endangering its fragile neutrality, but it did dream of being a technologically advanced modern country. Finnish engineering journals published only small excerpts on the development of shipbuilding or nuclear maritime technology in the 1950s, which reflects the minor role of these industries in Finland at the time. Finnish engineers, being typically fluent in Swedish, were still able to gather knowledge from other Scandinavian journals. Despite being [End Page 351] outsiders to the nuclear technology race, Finnish engineers breathed the same air as their foreign colleagues and became infected with nuclear enthusiasm, longing for the silver lining of the mushroom cloud and trusting modern technology.16

Naval architects, always struggling with the overall weight of a vessel, found the lightness and durability of uranium especially attractive. As only a smidgeon of uranium was required to generate the amount of energy corresponding to tons of diesel or coal, an on-board nuclear reactor seemed to promise to travel longer distances at lower costs and higher speed compared to combustion-driven power sources.17 The Scandinavian engineering communities joined the excited Western audience when the American military submarine "SSN Nautilus" redeemed these high expectations in sea trials 1955, travelling submerged at unprecedented speeds for distances ten times longer than any submarine before. Numerous other nuclear submarines, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, and cruisers followed this success.18

The first to announce a plan for a peaceful marine reactor design was the U.S. president Eisenhower, who in 1955 proposed building nuclear-powered merchant ships as a part of his "Atoms for Peace" program. Four years later, his wife christened NS Savannah, a nuclear-powered combined cargo- and passenger ship. Savannah had a dual purpose of demonstrating nuclear propulsion to be technically feasible in merchant shipping and manifesting U.S. technical competence in civilian nuclear technology.19

In the Soviet Union, the political leadership had already decided to construct a nuclear-powered icebreaker for the Arctic Ocean. News of the launch of the first civilian nuclear ship Lenin reached the Western world in 1958 (fig. 1). The ship had three Soviet OK-150 type pressured-water reactors, providing steam for turbines connected to generators and powering the electrical motors that drove the ship's propellers. Lenin was a considerable feat in the Cold War technology race. Like the Americans with Savannah, the Soviet party officials had a clear political incentive to use the nuclear icebreaker to "demonstrate the scientific hubris and peaceful intentions of the Soviet power."20 Lenin offered the Soviet media "a highly visible, prestigious object to follow through construction, launch, and service, including all its 'extra-curricular' appearances."21 [End Page 352]

Fig. 1. The first nuclear icebreaker, Lenin, impressed the Finnish audience as a part of Soviet Industrial Exhibition in Helsinki 1959. (Source: photo by Väinö Kannisto, Helsinki City Museum.)
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Fig. 1.

The first nuclear icebreaker, Lenin, impressed the Finnish audience as a part of Soviet Industrial Exhibition in Helsinki 1959. (Source: photo by Väinö Kannisto, Helsinki City Museum.)

Thus, even if both Savannah and Lenin had civilian functions in carrying cargo or breaking ice, they were also instruments in the superpower game of international prestige. Lenin provoked the U.S. Senate and press into dreaming that the United States would join the Soviet Union in the nuclear icebreaker competition to "capture honors for Arctic travel" and to show that the American engineers "can do anything the Russians can do and do it better."22 These dreams turned out to be short-lived, as President Eisenhower vetoed the atomic icebreaker plans due to high costs and low priority.23

If the U.S. leadership did not find nuclear icebreakers attractive enough, the idea definitely made an impression at the Wärtsilä Helsinki shipyard. In particular, a Finnish shipbuilding engineer named Christian Landtman, a technical director of the Wärtsilä Helsinki shipyard and the manager of the shipyard's design bureau, was struck by Lenin. Landtman had studied shipbuilding in the Helsinki University of Technology after the war and graduated with the Master of Science in Technology in 1948. After graduating, he had been a special lecturer in marine machinery while also working at the shipyard. To him, nuclear-electric propulsion seemed to solve particularly conveniently the difficult equation in polar icebreaking between the long operation range and the weight of fuel. Electric transmission from the main [End Page 353] power engines to the propeller shaft had become an established solution in modern icebreakers since the 1930s, as electric propulsion enabled machinery to develop full power at low revolutions, and thus provided better maneuverability in ice. From this perspective, Lenin's nuclear turbo-electric power system was not utopian but rather something achievable: a new exciting way to heat water to generate electricity.

The Wärtsilä Helsinki shipyard had recently made a strategic decision to concentrate on specialized ice-going vessels in order to differentiate itself from other Finnish and Swedish shipyards. As the demand for Baltic icebreakers was all too restricted, the company needed to gain a share of the Soviet Arctic shipbuilding. As a profession, Finnish engineering had an apolitical identity, and engineers preferred to remain outside political debates. Engaging in business with the Soviet Union was about generating profits and not about making politics.24 However, at the level of the agreements, institutions, and practices, the Finnish-Soviet trade was thoroughly political. The politics and business in the Finnish-Soviet relationship were like two sides of a coin, always combined but usually with only one side showing.

The extensive trade was a tool for the Soviet Union to lessen Finland`s economic dependence on Western Europe and to bypass Western technology embargo. Later it also became a useful showcase of peaceful coexistence between communist and capitalist countries. Finnish leaders had few viable political alternatives when they signed the first five-year protocol of bilateral trade with the Soviet Union in 1951. Nevertheless, in the course of time, the bilateral "Eastern trade" became critical for the Finnish manufacturing industries, which were not yet competitive in the Western markets.25

In relation to the Western bloc, the Finnish government could present the trade as "just business," nothing beyond the geographically justified economic partnership between neighboring countries. At the same time, in relation to the Soviet Union, the trade volume soon acquired a wider symbolic meaning as a "thermometer of the political relationship." The Finns understood that if political relations cooled down, the first to suffer was the Finnish industry. On the other hand, Soviet leaders were also ready to express their satisfaction in the form of big procurements that would seal the political friendship.26 While recognizing that Finnish-Soviet state-level relations formed the basis for the bilateral trade, the contemporary descriptions tend to underline a clear separation between politics and trade, often citing Soviet foreign trade minister Nikolai Patolichev: "friendship is friendship, but money has to be counted."27 [End Page 354]

Finnish-Soviet trade was based on the bilateral clearing trade and payment system, which involves state-level arrangements to balance imports and exports. Bilateral commissions outlined frameworks for future trade in five-year periods and detailed yearly agreements based on the proposals from Finnish companies and Soviet Foreign Trade Organizations (FTOs).28 In order to sell ships, the projects had to fit into the economic frames of the FTO for ship import, V/O Sudoimport, which negotiated and signed commercial agreements, as well as the general plans of Gosplan, the state planning organization. Because the trade exchange relied on the centrally coordinated and negotiated quotas and licenses, it had a potential function as a "vehicle for implementing politically ordered priorities."29

Icebreakers, physically capable of breaking icy barriers, fit well with the Finnish national identity as a Northern industrial country as well as with the narrative of Soviet socialist Arctic conquest.30 In Finland, icebreakers were civilian ships but at the same time, they were strategic enough to make them politically significant for the Soviet Union. They were obviously capable of serving military purposes when operating in the Arctic. Originally, the Western coordinating committee for multilateral export control (COCOM) classified icebreakers as a strategic technology. U.S. diplomats complained about icebreaker export, but as Finland had never joined COCOM and the Finnish government claimed that it could not interfere in private business, there was not much they could do. As long as more advanced Western shipbuilders restricted their trade with the Soviet Union, Helsinki shipyard was the only experienced Western producer from which the Soviet Union could buy icebreakers. Through this, the Soviet Union could save its limited domestic shipbuilding capacity for naval ships.31

When the Baltic shipyard launched the atomic icebreaker Lenin in Leningrad, the Helsinki shipyard had already started building polar icebreakers for the Soviet Union. Compared with the 22,000-shaft-horsepower (shp), diesel-powered Moskva, the reactors of Lenin were able to produce almost twice as much horsepower. Whereas Lenin did not need refueling during a year of nonstop travel, Moskva used 110 tons of diesel daily and required monthly refueling. The long operational range and lightness of fuel advocated for nuclear reactors, and the ice-strengthened hulls, made polar icebreakers suitable to accommodate nuclear power plants onboard.32 [End Page 355]

Indeed, it was like nuclear energy and arctic icebreakers were made for each other.

Drawing a Finnish Nuclear Icebreaker

The news of Lenin coincided with the introduction of nuclear technology in Finland. From 1958 onward, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) provided the long-awaited opportunity to obtain nuclear research reactors and fuel through an international, multilateral, and peaceful organization.33 This opening was also visible in the Finnish maritime press. Having been rather laconic in nuclear issues, the Navigator published a total of seventeen articles on nuclear shipbuilding during the peak years, 1957–65.34 At last, nuclear-enthusiastic Finnish engineers could satisfy their thirst for knowledge.

The Helsinki University of Technology started to lecture on nuclear physics in 1959. Among the students was the shipbuilder Landtman, who was eager to get familiar with the prospective powers of the atom. Theoretical mathematics and physics astonished the practice-oriented mechanical engineer. However, the laboratory exercises inspired confidence in the applicability of the nuclear physics when the results of measurement with a Geiger counter matched exactly with the theoretical calculations.35 To convince himself further of the feasibility of nuclear propulsion, Landtman visited the construction site of the American Savannah, which was displayed proudly for foreign shipbuilders. However, American icebreakers left the Finnish engineer unimpressed.36 In the time of technological optimism, a nuclear icebreaker appeared as a feasible project for an ambitious young shipbuilding engineer and a shipyard with substantial self-confidence. [End Page 356]

Immediately after the course, the Helsinki shipyard set up a project to design a 50,000-shp Finnish nuclear icebreaker, and its design bureau drafted the first sketches. That the shipyard started such a project on its own initiative implies that the executives were optimistic about the prospects of both civilian nuclear propulsion and Finnish arctic shipbuilding. Landtman told a German audience in 1961 that the Helsinki shipyard had tried to install in the hull of the icebreaker Moskva an intermediate form of the reactors used in NS Savannah and NS Lenin and went on claiming that neither the space nor weight had caused any problems.37

In 1961 the shipyard managers presented this tentative project idea to their contact person in Morflot, the USSR Ministry of Merchant Marines, in Moscow.38 Morflot, the principal operator of the Soviet arctic fleet, had a natural interest in new, well-functioning icebreakers. However, getting the end-user organization interested was only the beginning of the selling efforts. As an exceptional and undoubtedly expensive project proposal, the Finnish nuclear icebreaker needed to be politically valuable to overrun other conventional ship orders within the Gosplan's priorities. For that aim, being nuclear and an icebreaker was simply not enough. After all, with Lenin, Soviet shipbuilders had already demonstrated their domestic capability. What the Finnish project could offer, though, was a channel to Western technology. After the first contacts, the Soviet foreign trade strategists expressed their interest in ordering a nuclear icebreaker, but only if it would be powered by Western reactors.39

During the years 1964–65, shipyard executives sent inquires for marine nuclear propulsion systems to all possible Western producers. Whereas the American Westinghouse and some West-German companies refused even to discuss selling a marine reactor to the Soviet Union, the UK, Sweden, and France appeared responsive and enthusiastic to the idea.40 The purchases of British or Swedish reactors were not realized, primarily because of the inexperience of the producers. The shipyard, or its Soviet end-customer, put a lot of weight on the reliability of the reactor and did not want to accept an experimental system.41 Thus, France was left the only remaining possibility for the Helsinki shipyard to get a Western reactor. When the Finnish Atom Advisory Board traveled to visit the French Atomic Energy Commission in 1965, engineer Landtman was invited to join.42 The Finnish [End Page 357] request for a marine nuclear reactor received positive feedback but no direct answer until the end of the 1960s.43

While the French were pondering their response, the Soviet Union abandoned its original idea and opted to use Soviet reactors for its nuclear fleet. Between 1967 and 1977 the archival collections remain silent, suggesting the suspension of the Finnish nuclear icebreaker project. Ironically, this coincided with some other developments that generally increased the role of nuclear technology in Finnish-Soviet negotiations.

In 1967 the Finnish-Soviet Economic Commission, an inter-governmental cooperation organ recently founded to "further strengthen and expand the economic and commercial relation," set up a bilateral working group for nuclear cooperation.44 Particularly, the Soviet Union was eager to direct the cooperation toward the procurement of the first Finnish nuclear power plant. In Finland, the state electricity company had already begun accepting bids for the nuclear power plant from Western companies. Considering the technical and political risks of a Soviet nuclear reactor, the Finns tried to evade the topic and to concentrate on other, less problematic alternatives.45 To this end, the Finnish members of the committee proposed the nuclear icebreaker project as one way of showing Finnish willingness to cooperate, but as the chair of the working group reported, Wärtsilä was no longer interested in the project.46

The technopolitics of polar icebreakers in Finnish-Soviet trade did not vanish. The Helsinki shipyard kept itself busy building for the Soviet Union seven conventionally powered polar icebreakers and five smaller river and harbor icebreakers. Neither had the Soviet interests toward nuclear polar icebreakers disappeared. At the latest in 1970, the Helsinki shipyard became aware of the new Soviet nuclear icebreaker project: The Arktika class had an astonishing 70,000 shp, compared to which the Finnish project was significantly smaller and weaker.47

Thus, from the beginning of the 1960s until the late 1970s, the Finnish nuclear icebreaker was little more than a fascinating idea and some technical drawings used to test the Soviet interests and the permeability of the Iron Curtain. Although the East-West transfer of nuclear technology was a sensitive topic, the project was not a secret. Quite the contrary, the project [End Page 358] was occasionally brought up as a striking example of Finnish technological development.48 The Finnish Atomic Energy Advisory Board kept even the U.S. nuclear technology administration updated49 (fig. 2).

Fig. 2. The design and building of the Finnish state-icebreaker, Voima, led the shipyard to concentrate on ambitious, special purpose vessels. Wärtsilä´s worker on board the cruise ship Song of Norway in 1970. (Source: photo by Volker von Bonin, Helsinki City Museum.)
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Fig. 2.

The design and building of the Finnish state-icebreaker, Voima, led the shipyard to concentrate on ambitious, special purpose vessels. Wärtsilä´s worker on board the cruise ship Song of Norway in 1970. (Source: photo by Volker von Bonin, Helsinki City Museum.)

The project was put on ice in the late 1960s because it was not technopolitically valuable enough. It did not die, however. In 1970, the respected Finnish weekly magazine Suomen Kuvalehti published a cover story of Christian Landtman, titled "Breaking to success." To the direct question, "When will you build a nuclear icebreaker?" Landtman answered that the Helsinki shipyard indeed had a project of a 50,000 hp nuclear icebreaker on hold, although it lacked a reactor.50 That was literally true, even though the reactor was not all that was lacking. The project was also without a hull, detailed plans, and a contract. It existed just on paper, but even as a paper nuclear icebreaker, it was influential in making the Helsinki shipyard a serious actor in nuclear shipbuilding. [End Page 359]

Relaunching the Nuclear Icebreaker

The 1970s marked a turning point in the development of peaceful maritime technologies. In the Soviet Union, the growing economic and strategic importance of the Arctic offshore hydrocarbon resources made nuclear polar icebreakers a renewed center of national attention. The old nuclear flagship Lenin received the Soviet Union's highest distinction, the Order of Lenin, in 1974. The new nuclear icebreaker, Arktika, reached the North Pole in time to celebrate the Soviet Union's sixtieth anniversary in 1977—a feat perhaps not equal with going to the moon, but a viable symbol of socialist heroic explorations.51

In the Western world, nuclear enthusiasm gradually faded into realism. Project after project proved that nuclear propulsion was still more expensive and riskier in merchant shipping in comparison to combustible engines.52 The Finnish maritime journal Navigator stated in 1966 that interest in building nuclear-powered commercial ships had vanished.53 Within two years of this statement, the German nuclear cargo-vessel Otto Hahn was completed, and Japan laid the keel for the nuclear merchant ship Mutsu, but the tendency was clear. Savannah retired in 1971, never reaching a break-even performance. Otto Hahn was deactivated in 1979 and recommissioned as a conventional container ship. Mutsu never carried commercial cargo and was decommissioned in 1992.54 These pioneers of the nuclear merchant marine were seriously hampered by real or imagined concerns about safety that made several ports turn them away. Japanese protesters blocked Mutsu in its homeport for two years before it was able to sail for its first test run, during which it developed a reactor problem. The crew was forced to run down the reactors, leaving Mutsu to drift on the Pacific Ocean, as it was now also barred from returning to the port.55 As the Guardian put it in 1975: "The fact is that nuclear powered merchant ships cannot trade like other ships because they frighten the life out of governments and people."56

Quite paradoxically, just when the Soviet Union demonstrated its self-reliant technological competence in building nuclear icebreakers and the Western audience was becoming more and more critical toward nuclear projects, the Helsinki shipyard resurrected the old nuclear icebreaker project [End Page 360] in 1977. That was partly possible because nuclear polar icebreakers, governmentally maintained service ships operating far away, were not that sensitive to higher costs and public criticism. As Landtman explained to an international conference audience in 1983:

It is also expected that the use of nuclear power in remote areas like the Arctic will not meet with such severe criticism as in densely populated areas. The extreme strong construction of the icebreakers reduces the risk of radiation leaks occurring in the case of collision. Further, it is not necessary for these icebreakers to go into harbours or densely built-up areas. Although nuclear propulsion will probably not be an overall solution in icebreaking ships, it will have potential in certain applications, especially in high-powered arctic ships."57

Yet, the prime factor was a shift in the Soviet political approach to Finland, which made the old project a highly appropriate answer to a new problem. Throughout the Cold War, technology transfer had been central in the Soviet Union's strategy to "catch up" by incorporating state-of-the-art technology. From the 1970s onward, the Soviet organizations started to prioritize the import of knowledge over the import of just machinery and the export of refined goods over the export of just raw materials. These aspirations hardly altered the Finnish-Soviet trade structure or the fact that Finland imported mainly oil and energy products and the Soviet Union mainly refined products. However, the new political emphasis made joint technology projects politically invaluable, providing the Soviet partners more agency, facilitating knowledge diffusion, and demonstrating East-West industrial cooperation. The Soviet Union, a nuclear power, did not want its small neighbor to treat itself as a backward raw material producer but as a technological pioneer.58

The Finnish representatives in the Economic Commission heard increasing complaints about the reluctance of the Finnish companies to buy Soviet machinery and technology.59 Aims to cultivate the political relationship and to balance the bilateral trade exchange motivated governmentally-pushed parade projects, such as the procurement of a nuclear power plant and electrical locomotives from the Soviet Union. Yet these big public projects obviously complicated the image of separated political and economic spheres treasured in Finland, increased actual dependencies on the Soviet Union, and exemplified embarrassingly the Soviet influence in Finland to Western observers.60 [End Page 361]

In the shipbuilding industry, these attempts to increase Finnish-Soviet cooperation brought about so-called "counter purchases," a certain percentage of Soviet content in the ships ordered from Finland. The Soviet negotiators were particularly eager to include main diesel engines in these counter purchases. Most of the Finnish executives were equally as eager to reject these suggestions because that would compete against their own engine production. Typically, these counter purchases consisted of simpler navigation systems, radio equipment, and some metal products such as anchor chains. Although the Soviet Union could not force Finnish enterprises to buy components they did not want, the shipyards realized that in order to maintain their good reputation in the Soviet foreign trade, they had to give the Soviets something in response.61

Wärtsilä proposed its nuclear icebreaker project to the Finnish-Soviet Scientific and Technical Cooperation Committee as a potential scientific and technical cooperation project in the spring of 1977. The suggestion found resonance among the shipbuilding engineers and foreign trade politicians. It provided a convenient way to express willingness to cooperate while escaping Soviet suggestions of replacing Finnish diesel engines with Soviet machinery, or building joint nuclear power plants in third countries.62

According to the proposal, the Helsinki shipyard would take the principal responsibility for designing and building the nuclear icebreaker but the nuclear reactors would be built and installed in the Soviet Union. The combination of the Finnish icebreaker expertise and the Soviet nuclear technology had genuine technical justifications as well as definite economic rationales. Wärtsilä had never planned to develop its own reactor technology. Outfitting an icebreaker with Soviet reactors was less a sacrifice than a creative response to the Soviet demands.

At this stage, promoting the nuclear icebreaker project resembled more political lobbying than technical marketing and focused on persuading high political decision makers in the Soviet Union to order a nuclear icebreaker from Finland. Tankmar Horn, director of Wärtsilä and a former diplomat who had been recruited from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, had unproblematic and close networks with the political leadership and did not hesitate to use them for the company's benefit.63 Asking the Finnish [End Page 362] President Urho Kekkonen to help with the Finnish nuclear project was in alignment with his established conventions.64 Exploitation of these highprofile personal networks did the trick. In December 1978, Kekkonen returned from his state visit to the Soviet Union with the information that Morflot would like to include two nuclear-powered icebreakers in the next five-year protocol of bilateral trade in 1981–85.65 Horn received a further confirmation in 1980, when he joined Kekkonen in the official visit to the Soviet Union, as he described afterwards in his overwhelmingly grateful letter to the president.66

The official cooperation agreement in November 1980 was a clear breakthrough in the decades-long process. The way ahead was still long and arduous. In addition to the nuclear reactors, the Soviet Union wanted to deliver special low-temperature hull steel originally developed for its submarines, as well as turbines and propellers. These raised the Soviet share of the project to 13 percent, which was enough to reframe the old Finnish nuclear icebreaker project as the prime example of the Finnish-Soviet scientific, technical, and industrial cooperation.

If the Soviet stake was crucial for trade politicians, one technically pivotal decision was to specify the project as a shallow-draft nuclear icebreaker.67 The giant Arktika-class icebreakers of the Soviet nuclear fleet were strong and powerful enough to penetrate anywhere in the Arctic Ocean, except for the shallow coastal waters, due to their deep draft.68 The year-round shipping of minerals and hydrocarbons by the Yenisei River and on the Kara Sea required strong icebreakers able to operate with less than nine meters' depth of water.69 Design of an icebreaker that could break two-meter-thick ice and navigate almost "in morning dew" demanded [End Page 363] an ability to combine scientific understanding and technical experience in ice mechanics and icebreaking. This was the Finnish expertise, demonstrated in other shallow-draft icebreaker projects.70 Thus, the reduced draft was not a technical detail but a critical factor that differentiated the Finnish project from the Soviet nuclear icebreakers. The technical rationales behind Finnish-Soviet cooperation were further naturalized as icebreaker reviews chose to present the Finnish Taymyr class graphically as the evolutionary culmination resulting from interbreeding of Finnish and Soviet icebreakers.71

Even after the Finnish-Soviet negotiators had agreed on technical specifications, commercial negotiations stagnated. The Finns anticipated a breakthrough in negotiations on the eve of every anniversary of Finnish-Soviet treaties and Soviet national holidays that were traditionally celebrated with valuable contracts. They had to wait until the festive week of the October Revolution in 1984 before the Soviet buyer finally agreed to sign the order for two nuclear icebreakers.72 A quarter century after the initiation of the Finnish nuclear icebreaker project, it succeeded in aligning with all major political, technological, and commercial interests. The Finnish nuclear icebreaker, envisioned in the years of nuclear enthusiasm, materialized only when this enthusiasm was already turning into growing criticism.

Chasing Lifeboats in the Thawing of the Cold War

In conjunction with the fortieth anniversary celebrations of the Finnish-Soviet Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance Treaty in 1988, the first Finnish-made nuclear icebreaker got a name, Taymyr, after an old imperial Russian icebreaking steamer and the northernmost part of the Eurasian mainland. In that moment, nuclear technology seemed to have broken a promising new way for the Helsinki shipyard's Arctic business. Of the alternative power sources, as the head of the Arctic Transportation Unit articulated, wind was fickle and coal heavy but "the only obstacles with nuclear energy are merely political."73

These great expectations contrasted strictly with the growing nuclear skepticism that had exploded after the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986. Chernobyl had revealed serious problems in the practices of atomic-powered communism and provoked broad popular anti-nuclear movements. Taymyr and Vaygach also got their share of the popular distrust when [End Page 364] some ports refused to welcome the "floating Chernobyls."74 All this resistance was totally absent in the discussion on the Taymyr class. Contemporary accounts presented the Finnish-Soviet project as if it had nothing to do with Soviet nuclear technology. Only afterwards did Landtman of Wärtsilä shipyard state that he had begun to question the safety of marine reactors, but he kept his reservations secret in solidarity with the company even after his retirement in 1984.75 In the Finnish-Soviet relations, nuclear icebreakers maintained their political value as long as the Soviet politicians trusted atomic energy and its future prospects and the Finns trusted the future of the Soviet establishment (fig. 3).

Fig. 3. The first Finnish-built nuclear icebreaker, Taymyr, under construction. The nuclear reactors never arrived in Finland, but the ship was powered by temporary steam engines on the helicopter deck. <br/><br/>(Source: photo courtesy Aker Arctic, Inc. Reprinted with permission.)
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Fig. 3.

The first Finnish-built nuclear icebreaker, Taymyr, under construction. The nuclear reactors never arrived in Finland, but the ship was powered by temporary steam engines on the helicopter deck.

(Source: photo courtesy Aker Arctic, Inc. Reprinted with permission.)

When Taymyr steamed to the Soviet Union, Wärtsilä Marine (WM), Wärtsilä's newly organized subsidiary for shipbuilding operations, was in severe financial troubles and in dire need of new profitable orders. The global shipbuilding markets had long suffered from depressed demand, tight international price competition, over-capacity and governmentally subsidized underpricing.76 The relatively stable and high-volume Soviet trade had traditionally smoothed out the effect of international trade cycles at the Finnish shipyards, but not this time. Mikhail Gorbachev had launched his perestroika policies to restructure the Soviet economy, which implied [End Page 365] gradual decentralization of the foreign trade. Several companies and ministries now received rights to conduct foreign trade independently, Morflot among the first. At the same time, the oil market price dropped, decreasing the value of the Soviet imports to Finland. According to the logic of bilateral clearing trade, this also diminished the Finnish export quotas to an equal degree. Wärtsilä had longstanding networks in Moscow, but now the shrinking resources, loosening political coordination, and increasing price competition started to hamper the Finnish-Soviet ship business in a way that was unfamiliar to the experienced executives.77

Under the prevailing market conditions, the shipyard needed a project that would be too tempting for the Soviet buyer to reject or to bargain down. In this situation, the political, economic, and technical exceptionalism seemed to make nuclear icebreakers suitable lifeboats for the struggling shipyard: Politically, the high-technology cooperation was just what the Soviets had kept asking for. In economic terms, the profitability of the Taymyr class contrasted sharply with the shipyard´s other project. Technically, the shallow-draft design differentiated the Finnish ships from the Soviet icebreakers. A strategic service ship without a clear market price was a flexible object in political negotiations and opened a possibility to overrun economic restrictions.78

Pekka Laine, the newly appointed CEO of Wärtsilä Marine, quickly realized the power of nuclear exceptionalism. As his company fell deeper into a liquidity crisis, Laine translated the nuclear icebreaker project from being beneficial to its business strategy into being an imperative to its survival.79 Discussion of the continuation of Finnish-Soviet nuclear icebreaker cooperation started in 1987. The prime alternative was a third Taymyr-class icebreaker. The "new generation Taymyr," or T3, would replace the two previous ones during their maintenance breaks and involve even more border-crossing collaboration. WM's negotiators also expressed interest in the new Soviet nuclear icebreaker project called Leader. The Finns had understood that the main specification of Leader, rumored to get the breathtaking engine power of 150,000 hp, was to beat the Canadian Polar 8 with 101,000 hp. This late Cold War icebreaker race never materialized, as both the Canadian and Soviet governments canceled their projects, but as long as the competition for the most powerful giant icebreaker was ongoing, the Helsinki shipyard definitely wanted to be part of it.80

The vast number of visits and the list of persons involved in the negotiations [End Page 366] indicated the great significance of this nuclear icebreaker proposal. In December 1987 alone, WM's negotiators had audiences with every Soviet organization somehow involved in the ship import from Finland, from the end-user organization Morflot to the Kremlin.81 Several Soviet politicians and civil servants confirmed that the Soviet Northern Fleet was truly in need of a third shallow-draft nuclear icebreaker, and it would order it in the near future.82

However, further discussions with the Soviets had also brought to light more contested points of view. The reorganization of the Soviet economy had diminished the power of central coordination, and the economic restrictions had made the new decision-makers in Morflot critical toward new purchases.83 As before in deadlocked situations, the Finns tried to push the project forward through political channels. CEO Laine requested assistance from the Finnish minister, Ilkka Suominen, who invited the Soviet shipbuilding minister, Volmer, to discuss Finnish-Soviet cooperation in shipbuilding.84 Expectations were positive. In November 1988 the Soviet deputy minister of shipbuilding articulated that the T3 was "95-percent sure."85 Later, the shipyard honored Minister Suominen by naming him the godfather of Vaygach86 (fig. 4).

The confidence turned into disappointment in the beginning of 1989 when Gosplan reallocated a large sum of the national shipbuilding budget from Morflot to fisheries.87 Now Morflot had to operate with strict budget limits, and it decided to prioritize SA-15-type arctic icebreaking freighters [End Page 367] over the nuclear icebreaker. Those freighters were able to tackle meter-thick ice and had proved their functionality as icebreaking vessels during severe winters in the early 1980s, but provided few advantages for the shipyard in price negotiations.88 The technical complexity and nuclear exceptionalism that had made the nuclear icebreaker project a political priority at the state level were now an unaffordable luxury in the end-user organization, which could get three icebreaking cargo ships at the price of one Taymyr.89

Fig. 4. The three propellers of Taymyr were made in the Soviet Union—with Japanese Toshiba machine tools that should not have been in the Soviet Union, based on COCOM regulations, as recalled by the Finnish shipbuilding engineers (Niini, 16 April 2014; interview, 5 February 2014; Jaatinen interview, 5 June 2016). <br/><br/>(Source: photo courtesy Aker Arctic, Inc.)
Click for larger view
View full resolution
Fig. 4.

The three propellers of Taymyr were made in the Soviet Union—with Japanese Toshiba machine tools that should not have been in the Soviet Union, based on COCOM regulations, as recalled by the Finnish shipbuilding engineers (Niini, 16 April 2014; Saarikangas interview, 5 February 2014; Jaatinen interview, 5 June 2016).

(Source: photo courtesy Aker Arctic, Inc.)

The spring and summer passed without anyone confirming whether the nuclear icebreaker project was to continue. If in January the Soviet civil servants repeated unanimously that they had neither power nor resources to order a nuclear ship from Finland, in February a high political official assured that these rumors were simply untrue.90 The directors Laine and [End Page 368] Horn put their hope in the only remaining level of the Soviet hierarchy, General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, who was coming for an official state visit in October 1989. They expected Gorbachev to be able, and according to some sources also willing, to bypass normal protocols and economic restrictions, and to confirm the order of the third nuclear icebreaker. Their confidence was strong enough to build a model of the new generation Finnish-Soviet nuclear icebreaker to be presented to Gorbachev during his visit.91

Indeed, the late autumn of 1989 became globally memorable in many ways. In Finland, Gorbachev became the first Soviet leader to acknowledge the Finnish neutrality directly and without reservations. Politically, Finnish-Soviet affairs were perhaps as relaxed as ever during the Cold War, but the bilateral trade no longer mirrored this political relationship.92 Before Gorbachev had a chance to admire the model of the future Finnish-Soviet nuclear cooperation, the miniature Taymyr was hidden behind the curtains. Wärtsilä Marine, the biggest Finnish shipyard company, went bankrupt. The Soviet Union collapsed. The T3 was forgotten.

Nuclear icebreakers were still politically and technologically exceptional. They were just no longer appropriate instruments of technopolitics in the changing Finnish-Soviet relationship. However, the radiance of the once-successful project lasted long and maintained prospects of the third nuclear icebreaker. Longstanding Soviet officials, committed to the Finnish trade, supported it out of habit as it fit so well with the rhetoric and state-level agreements—but they had no more power to close the deal. There was neither need nor resources for a hero project signaling peaceful coexistence. Mundane fishing ships and freighters overran the flashy nuclear flagships.


The Cold War as political and economic polarization located Finland somewhere in between the East and the West and made trade with the Soviet Union a fusion of politics and business. The nuclear icebreakers were not the only vessels that carried political, economic, and technological meanings between Finland and the Soviet Union, but as flashy flagships of technological cooperation, the project cast light on the entangled technopolitical practices in the Cold War interaction.

The nuclear icebreaker project was political without being governmental, and nuclear without being radioactive. Yet it was truly a project of Cold War technopolitics. Technological qualities, combined with strategic practices [End Page 369] to use technology to enact political goals, made this project a reality when most of the other shipbuilding fantasies withered away. It was the amalgamation of Finnish and Soviet technology that made the Finnish nuclear icebreaker exactly the project realized: enough horsepower to break through thick polar ice, a long duration of fuel enabling independent operation in the Arctic sea, and a hull-shape and lightness which together allowed the Finnish-built ships to navigate waters too shallow for other nuclear icebreakers.

The first twenty years of the project proved, however, that technological functionality was not enough to close the deal. Crucial was the ability of the shipbuilding company to creatively and persistently align the project with the political agenda. The project was big enough to showcase the political meanings of border-crossing technological cooperation and small enough not to challenge the Soviet nuclear projects. It was strategic enough to rise above other projects and civilian enough not to endanger the Finnish position outside the superpower conflict. The intermingling of politics and business characterized the Finnish-Soviet trade institutions and practices, but the alleged separation of political and economic decision-making became an important performance that supported Finland's policy of neutrality and even-handed approach to both superpowers.

The relationship between the two countries was deeply asymmetric. The Soviet Union was a nuclear superpower possessing military and strategic power that Finland had no means to challenge. Even the gravity of economic power leaned toward the Soviet side. The main Soviet export products, oil and gas, had continuous demand in the global markets, whereas many Finnish export products had customers only in the Soviet planned economy. Nevertheless, the Soviet Union needed a stable buffer zone. The secured border, accompanied by certain political, economic, and technological benefits of "peaceful coexistence," provided Finland some leverage and room for maneuvering. From the Finnish point of view, technology was hardly an "instrument of power." It was merely an instrument for dealing with a powerful neighbor.

That a private company exploited political connections to promote its business was nothing new, but interesting here was the symbiotic working relationship between the Finnish political and industrial actors. The Finnish shipyard relied on political support to push its projects forward in the Soviet decision-making hierarchy, while Finnish Cold War diplomacy needed concrete technology projects to make the political liturgy of friendship look firm. Individual politicians promoted technology projects to support their personal positions in domestic politics. For the shipyard, technopolitics was not about hybrid forms of political power embedded in technological artifacts, as the profit-driven company had no intentions to enact the Finnish-Soviet relationship. Instead, it was about myriad means of persuasion the shipyard used to promote its products. [End Page 370]

Fig. 5. Taymyr, like the other Russian nuclear icebreakers, is today operated by state-owned Rosatomflot. <br/><br/>(Source: photo courtesy Aker Arctic, Inc. Reprinted with permission.)
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View full resolution
Fig. 5.

Taymyr, like the other Russian nuclear icebreakers, is today operated by state-owned Rosatomflot.

(Source: photo courtesy Aker Arctic, Inc. Reprinted with permission.)

Towards the end of the Cold War, the framework in which the nuclear icebreaker project had gained its political meaning broke apart. The long and unsuccessful negotiations on the third Taymyr demonstrated how the arguments that had led to such a rewarding agreement in 1984 lost their functionality in five years. Also in this way, the Finnish-Soviet icebreaker project was truly a child of the Cold War: It was valuable, or loved, only in the Cold War world.

"Nuclearity," in this case, did matter. Even though the "nuclearity" was just on loan (as the radioactive reactors never arrived in Finland), it made the project stand out from the fleets of conventional ships and enabled it to carry political weight that other ships could not. In the beginning, the Soviet Union saw the Finnish nuclear icebreaker project as a channel for Western marine reactor technology. At the end, it justified the industrial and technical cooperation between a private shipyard and Soviet governmental institutions. The Finnish state and the shipyard could deploy the nuclear icebreaker project as a symbol of advancement, representing commitment to high technology and progress. Finnish engineers, while being unable to participate in the construction of nuclear future during the postwar years of nuclear enthusiasm, were happy to acquire nuclear technology from abroad to join the movement that seemed to promise a shortcut to modernization. The lure of the atom kept the project alive for over twenty years before the first contract, which is a long time for a profit-driven company (fig. 5).

These technopolitical qualities of the project were not stable and essential [End Page 371] but dynamic and flexible over time. They stemmed from international Cold War development, discussions, and visions, but eventually they carried weight only in the local context. That became obvious in the mid-1980s, when anti-nuclear protests mobilized people in capitalist and socialist countries alike. The Finnish-Soviet nuclear icebreaker project did not end up in the same box of Soviet nuclear heritage as Chernobyl and leaking nuclear submarines. The Finnish nuclear icebreaker project was not a menace, it just became useless.

The two giant icebreakers came to be built in Helsinki because their technological functionality and political meanings made them appropriate tools to fabricate a bridge between the political rhetoric of mutually beneficial friendship and the reality of military, political, and economic statecraft. During the Cold War, impressions mattered. A 150-meter-long nuclear icebreaker made a powerful, materialized impression. When navigating through the troubled waters of international tensions, Finland learned to build both these ships and their reflections. [End Page 372]

Saara Matala

Saara Matala received her doctorate in history of industrialization in Aalto University, Finland in January 2019. Her thesis, "Finlandisation of Shipbuilding," examined the transformation of the Finnish shipbuilding industry during the Cold War. The author thanks Mats Fridlund for believing the nuclear icebreaker case from the beginning, and Deborah Fitzgerald and Rosalind Williams for their help at the final stage of the writing process. In addition, the author is grateful to Barbara Hahn and two anonymous peerreviewers for their constructive comments. An earlier version of this study was presented in the SHOT annual meeting in Dearborn and in a seminar in the Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment at KTH, Stockholm in 2014.


Archival and Oral Sources

Elinkeinoelämän Keskusarkisto [Central archives for Finnish business records], Mikkeli
Collections of Wärtsilä Marine (WM)
Eskelinen, Hannu, and Kari Ketola, interview with author, 26 March 2014 (with Aaro Sahari), Helsinki.
Kansallisarkisto Finnish [National archive], Helsinki
Collections of Kauppa ja teollisuusministeriö [Ministry of Trade and Industry], (KTM)
Collections of Atomienergian neuvottelukunta [Atom Energy Advisor Board], (AEAB)
Collections of President Mauno Koivisto (MK)
Landtman, Christian, interview with author, 21 January 2014 and 9 September 2014 (with Aaro Sahari), Helsinki.
Landtman, Christian, personal collection (LC)
National Archive, Foreign Office, London (NA)
Saarikangas, Martin, interview with author, 5 February 2014, Espoo.
Ulkoministeriön arkisto [Archive of the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs], Helsinki
Foreign Trade Policy Department Collections (FTP)
Urho Kekkosen arkisto [Archives of the President Urho Kekkonen], Orimattila, FI
Collections of correspondence and official visits (UK)
Wilkman, Göran, interview with author, 16 January 2014, Espoo.

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1. "Trough Pack-Ice by Nuclear Power."

2. Lars Olsson, "Skall vi bygga atomfartyg?" 4–6; Bjørn Listog, "Radioaktive vikinskip"; "Den danska atomfartygprojektet Alpha"; "Projekt till kärnkraftdrivet bulklastfartyg"; "Studieprojekt ALPHA tre 65.000 dwt tankskibe"; "Är Kärndrivna tankfartyg lönande?"

3. Naomi Oreskes and John Krige, eds., Science and Technology in the Global Cold War; Donald MacKenzie, Inventing Accuracy; Gabrielle Hecht, The Radiance of France; Roberto Cantoni, "What's in a Pipe?"

4. Gabrielle Hecht and Paul N. Edwards, The Technopolitics of Cold War, 4.

5. Gabrielle Hecht, Being Nuclear; Scott C. Zeman, "To See . . . Things Dangerous to Come to"; Dick van Lente, "Introduction"; Hecht, "The Power of Nuclear Things"; Sonja Schmid, "Nuclear Colonization?"; Maja Fjaestad, "Fast Breeder Reactors in Sweden."

8. Sari Autio-Sarasmo and Katalin Miklóssy, eds., Reassessing Cold War Europe; Mikkonen and Koivunen, Beyond the Divide; Poul Villaume, Ann-Marie Ekengren, and Rasmus Mariager, eds., Northern Europe in the Cold War; Krige, "Hybrid Knowledge"; Hunter Heyck and David Kaiser, "Introduction."

9. Tuomas Forsberg and Matti Pesu, "The 'Finlandisation' of Finland."

10. Gabrielle Hecht, ed., Entangled Geographies; especially Schmid, "Nuclear Colonization?"

11. On trade politics, Pekka Sutela, Trading with the Soviet Union; Suvi Kansikas, "Balancing between Moscow and Brussels"; Juhana Aunesluoma, Vapaakaupan tiellä; On neutrality policy: Johanna Rainio-Niemi, The ideological Cold War; Jussi Hanhimäki, "Non-aligned to What?"

12. Elinkeinoelämän Keskusarkisto [Central archives for Finnish business records] in Mikkeli, collections of Wärtsilä Marine (WM); Ulkoministeriön arkisto [Archive of the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs], collections of Foreign Trade Policy Department (FTP); Kansallisarkisto [Finnish National Archive], collections of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (KTM) and Atom Energy Advisor Board (AEAB) and president Mauno Koivisto's private collection (MK); President Urho Kekkonen archives in Orimattila, collections of official visits and correspondence (UK). I have used some documents from the British Foreign Office (NA) of which I got digitalized copies from Professor Niklas Jensen-Eriksen.

13. Steven Del Sesto, "Wasn't the Future of Nuclear Engineering Wonderful?"

14. Hecht, The Radiance of France; Paul Josephson, Red Atom, 4–5, 111–13, 123; Schmid "Nuclear Colonization," 125–54.

15. Thomas Jonter, Sweden and the Bomb; Cf. Karl-Erik Michelsen, Valtio, teknologia ja tutkimus, 118, 119, 168; Panu Nykänen, Otaniemen yhdyskunta, 141–51.

16. The Finnish engineering journal Teknillinen aikakauslehti, 1945–65; the Finnish maritime journal Navigator, 1945–90; the Swedish Teknisk Tidskrift; Danish Ingeniøren; and Norwegian Teknisk Ukeblad, 1950–65.

17. A. A. Boer, "Nuclear Propulsion Economics"; Olsson, "Skall vi bygga atomfartyg?" 4–6.

18. Thomas Hughes, American Genesis, 428, 433; "US Navy´s första atomdrivna övervattensfartyg"; "Atomkraft för fartygsdrift."

19. Olsson, "Skall vi bygga atomfartyg?" 7; Josephson, Red Atom, 123; "NS Savannah."

20. Josephson, Red Atom, 112, 120.

21. Sonja Schmid, "Shaping the Soviet Experience of the Atomic Age," 32–33, 41.

22. "Atom Icebreaker Proposed for US"; "Canada Studying Atom Icebreaker"; Great Lakes Pilotage and Atomic Icebreaker: Hearings before Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, Senate, 28 May, 17 & 20 June 1958.

24. Karl-Erik Michelsen, Viides sääty, 325–27.

25. Sutela, Trading with the Soviet Union, 33–40; Tatiana Androsova, "Economic Interest," 34–38, 42–45; Niklas Jensen-Eriksen, "CoCom and neutrality"; Aunesluoma, Vapaakaupan tiellä, 118–19.

26. Markku Kuisma, Kylmä sota, kuuma öljy, 261–68; Aunesluoma, Vapaakaupan tiellä, 113–14, 120–23.

27. Tuomas Keskinen, Idänkauppa, 398; Sutela, Trading with the Soviet Union, 8.

28. Juhani Laurila, Finnish-Soviet Clearing Trade; Sutela, Trading with the Soviet Union.

29. Pekka Sutela, "Finnish Trade with the USSR," 8.

30. Paul Josephson, The Conquest of the Russian Arctic; Saara Matala and Aaro Sahari, Small Nation, Big Ships.

31. Jensen-Eriksen, "CoCom and Neutrality," 58–61; Androsova, "Economic Interest."

32. Christian Landtman, Technische Gesichtspunkte über modern grosse Eisbrecher, 167; Josephson, Red Atom, 120.

33. Michelsen, Valtio, teknologia ja tutkimus, 187–92.

34. From the Finnish maritime journal Navigator (1957–65): "Atomkraft för fartygsdrift" (January 1957); "Ydinenergia liikenteen palveluksessa" (June 1957); "Atomikauppalaiva valmistuu 1960" (October 1957); "Yhdysvaltain atomi-ja ohjuslaivasto kasvamassa nopeasti" (June 1958); "Atomfartyget Savannah i vattnet" (July–August 1959); "Dreadnought laskettu vesille" (December 1960); "Atomdrivna handelsfartyg dröjer 10 år?" (September 1960); "Triton—Atomubåt med specialuppgift" (January 1961); "USA:n ensimmäinen atomikäyttöinen lentokoneiden emälaiva 'Enterprise'" (February 1962); "Atomikauppalaivaa suunnitellaan Kockucmin telakalla Ruotsissa" (February 1962); "Atomilaiva Savannah" (April 1962), "Atomijäänmurtajaa suunnitellaan St. Lawrencelle" (June 1962); "Kockumin atomilaivasuunnitelma" (June 1962); "Atomilaivojen aika" (December 1962); "Tysk atomfartyg vid Kieles Howaldstwerke" (January 1963); "Atomijäänmurtaja Lenin—Neuvostoliiton laivanrakennusteollisuuden ylpeys" (May 1963); "Ruotsalais-norjalainen atomilaiva suunnitelma" (December 1963); "Atomilaiva kesällä Norjaan" (April 1964); "Neuvostoliitto rakentelee 2 atomijäänmurtajaa" (February 1965); "Neljä ydinvoimalaa Tyynen valtameren liikenteeseen" (February 1965).

35. Christian Landtman, Minnen från mina år vid Wärtsilä, 98–99; Landtman interview, 9 September 2014.

36. Landtman Interview, 9 September 2014; Olsson, Ska vi bygga atomfartyg, 18.

37. Landtman, Technische Gesichtspunkte über modern grosse Eisbrecher, 170–71.

38. Landtman, Minnen från mina år vid Wärtsilä, 97–98; Landtman Interview, 9 September 2014.

39. Landtman, Minnen från mina år vid Wärtsilä, 97–96; Heikki Haapavaara, Iso-Masa, 90–91; Martin Saarikangas interview; Landtman interview, 9 September 2014.

40. Folder of nuclear cooperation with foreign countries, Finland, FO 371/176260, digitized by Niklas Jensen-Eriksen, in NA; Landtman interview, 9 September 2014; Saarikangas interview.

41. Landtman interviews; Saarikangas interview.

42. Minutes of Finnish Atom Energy Advisor Board meeting 8/65, 29 October 1965, Ca2, in KTM.

43. Landtman, Minnen från mina år vid Wärtsilä, 98.

44. Finland's International Treaties 45/1967,; Aunesluoma, Vapaakaupan tiellä, 362.

45. Karl-Erik Michelsen and Tuomo Särkikoski, Suomalainen ydinvoimalaitos; Särkikoski, Rauhan atomi; Milka Sunell, Miten Suomen yksityinen metsäteollisuus hankki länsimaisen ydinvoimalan.

46. Records of atom energy working group meetings 1/67, 7.8, and 2/67, 18 August 1967, Hd3, in KTM.

47. Christian Landtman, Icebreaking and Winter Navigation in the Baltic Area with Some Remarks Concerning Winter Navigation on the Great Lakes, Presentation before the Economic Club of Detroit, 7 December 1970, Cobo Hall, in LC; "Neuvostoliitto rakentelee 2 atomijäänmurtajaa."

48. Erkki Laurila, Report on Atom energy and Finland, 1 November 1965, Ma1, in KTM; Landtman, Technische Gesichtspunkte über modern grosse Eisbrecher.

49. Finnish Atom energy advisor board, minutes of meeting with American civil servants at the US Atom Energy Commission in Washington, 13 September 1965, Ma1, in KTM.

50. "Murtamalla menestykseen."

51. "Soviets' Nuclear Icebreaker Leaves North Pole"; "Soviet Nuclear Ship Reaches North Pole"; Josephson, Red Atom, 5, 126; Oleg Bukharin, "Russia's Nuclear Icebreaker Fleet," 27; Rosatomflot, (accessed 23 March 2016).

52. Olsson, Skall vi bygga atomfartyg, 17.

53. "Atomilaivat tällä hetkellä"; "Plans for Nuclear-powered Merchant Fleet."

54. M. Adachi et al., The Decommissioning Plan of the Nuclear Ship MUTSU; D. B. McMichael and R. D Cain, Significant Conclusions; Peter von Dobschuetz, Dismantlement of NS "Otto Hahn."

57. Landtman, The Development and Future of Operation in Ice and of Icebreaking Research, paper presented at the Seventh International Conference on Port and Ocean Engineering under Arctic Conditions, Helsinki, 5–7 April 1983, 28–30, in LC.

58. Androsova, "Economic Interest," 42–45; Sari Autio-Sarasmo "Soviet Economic Modernization," 107, 110–11; Aunesluoma Vapaakaupan tiellä, 116.

59. Records from Economic Commission's meetings 1974–78, Hsa:12, in KTM.

60. Aunesluoma, Vapaakaupan tiellä, 341; Seppo Zettenberg, Yhteisellä matkalla, 325–38; Michelsen and Särkikoski, Suomalainen ydinvoimalaitos; Teppo Moilanen, "Uusi junankuljetusmetoodi."

61. Finnish report from the meetings of the shipbuilding division of the Finnish-Soviet Economic Commission 31 August 1976, 8 September 1975, 17 December 1974, Hda:10, in KTM.

62. T. Horn to P. Rantanen, 18 September 1979; Memorandum from T. Horn to N.S Patolitshev, to Guzhenko (Morflot) and to Kovaljov (GKNT) on the Soviet-Finnish cooperation project of new nuclear polar icebreakers, 3 November 1978, signum 58 B1 f. 168, both in FTP; Meeting of Finnish-Soviet Economic Commission, 22 February 1978, Had:12, in KTM.

63. T. Horn to U. Kekkonen, 23 February 1970, Visits to Soviet Union 1968–71 22/11; T. Horn to U. Kekkonen, 15 March 1977, in Correspondence 1/94 H-J 1977; See also folder Visit to USA 3–4 August 1976, 22/23; U. Kekkonen to T. Horn, 18 October 1987, and T. Horn to U. Kekkonen, 2 February 1976, in Correspondence 1976 H-J 1/87; T. Horn to U. Kekkonen, 29 November 1977, and T. Horn to U. Kekkonen, 23 December 1976, in Correspondence 1/94 H-J 1977; all in UK.

64. From T. Horn (CEO Wärtsilä) to P. Rantanen (Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs), 18 September 1979; Memorandum from T. Horn to N. S. Patolitshev (Soviet Ministery of Foreign Trade), to Guzhenko (Morflot) and to Kovaljov (GKNT) on the Soviet-Finnish cooperation project of new nuclear polar icebreakers, 3 November 1978, signum 58 B1, 168; both in FTP.

65. Finnish preparatory meeting, 11 December 1978, on the next five-year plan, 1981–85 in the Finnish-Soviet trade, signum 58 B1, 166, in FTP; Saarikangas interview.

66. T. Horn to P. Kekkonen, 1 December 1980, Correspondence 1/114 A-H 1980, in UK.

69. "Taymyr-ydinmurtaja"; "First Nuclear Icebreakers Launched at Wärtsilä Marine"; Josephson, The Conquest of the Russian Arctic, 18–89; William Barr and Edward A. Wilson, "The Shipping Crisis"; Wilkman interview.

70. Aker Arctic, References.

71. Lawson Brigham, "Technical Developments"; S. Devinder Sodhi, Northern Sea Route.

72. Haapavaara, Iso-Masa, 92; Saarikangas interview; Hannu Eskelinen and Kari Ketola interview; "Telakkateollisuuskatsaus 1984."

74. Josephson, Red Atom, 127, 244–45, 291–92; Schmid "Nuclear Colonization?"

75. Landtman, Minnen från mina år vid Wärtsilä, 222.

76. Daniel Todd, Industrial Dislocation.

77. PM, 3 April 1989, on the future of the Finnish-Soviet clearing trade, KPO, signum 43.41, folder 1 January–30 June 1989, in FTP; Seija Lainela, "Neuvostoliiton ulkomaankauppajärjestelmän uudistus," 151–52, 156–57.

78. Minutes from meeting in MVT, 23 December 1987, f. 29, in WM; Gosplan, 3 March 1988, f. 30, in WM.

79. PM, 27 March 1989, on the Soviet trade 1991–95, f. 30, in WM.

80. L. Jakobsson to Pekka Laine, 10 November 1987; Minutes from meetings in MVT, 27 December 1987 and Gosplan, 28 December 1987; all f. 29, in WM.

81. Minutes from meetings in MVT, 17 & 27 December 1987, Gosplan, 28 December 1987, Kremlin, 22 December 1987, and at Wärtsilä's office in Moscow, 22 December 1987, all f. 29, in WM.

82. WM's internal memorandum, 6 May 1988, f. 29; Minutes from meeting at Wärtsilä's office in Moscow, 28 December 1987, and Kremlin, 22 December 1987, f. 29; Minutes from meeting in Gosplan, 3 March 1988, f. 30; all in WM.

83. Minutes from meeting in Gosplan, 28 December 1987, f. 30, in WM; Minutes from meeting in the Soviet Ministry of foreign economic relations (MVES), 17 December 1987, f. 29, in WM; PM no. 325, 27 March 1991, on the role of MID in foreign trade policy, KPO, signum 43.41, folder 1 January–31 March 1991, in FTP; PM, 3 April 1989, on the future of the Finnish-Soviet trade, KPO, signum 43.41, folder 1 January–30 June 1989, in FTP.

84. Memorandum from lunch meeting between Pugin and L. Jakobsson, 12 January 1988; Minutes from meeting with Pugin, probably in Moscow, 17 March 1988, on ship financing in the Finnish-Soviet trade; Pekka Laine to Ilkka Suominen, 31 May 1988; all f. 30, in WM.

85. Secret memorandum, 19 July 1988, on ship prioritizing in the thirteenth five-year period as evaluated in June 1988; Telex from Zvegintsev, Sudoimport to Pekka Laine, 20 October 1988; Minutes from meeting in Gosplan, 24 November 1988; all f. 30, in WM.

86. Ilkka Suominen to Ju. N. Volmer, 29 June 1988; Minutes from meeting in MVES, 2 February 1989; both f. 30, in WM.

87. Memorandum from meeting at Helsinki shipyard, 19 February 1989, f. 30, in WM.

88. Barr and Wilson, "The Shipping Crisis."

89. L. Jakobsson's notes of phone call with Soviet inspector Danilov, 26 January 1989; Memorandum from meeting at Helsinki shipyard, 19 February 1989; Minutes from meeting with Soviet representatives in the Economic Commission, 2 February 1989; Minutes from meeting with Komarov and Zvegintsev in Moscow, 6 January 1989; all f. 30, in WM.

90. Minutes of meeting with the Soviet representatives in the Economic Commission, 2 February 1989; Minutes from meetings in Sudoimport, 3 May 1989, Sudoexport, 7 June 1989, Moscow, 6 January 1989, Morflot, 27 January 1989, and Helsinki shipyard, 19 February 1989; all f. 30, in WM.

91. Minutes of meeting with V. D. Pugin, 19 August 1989; WM's memorandum on internal meeting on ongoing projects in the Soviet Union, 22 August 1989; WM's memorandum titled "The Third Taymyr," 19 October 1989; all f. 30, in WM.

92. Saara Matala, "Idänkauppa oli varmaa mutta sitten se loppui."

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