Gist: The Peter the Great has been at sea for almost two months now and is on her way to Venezuela. Our team takes a look at the heart of the ship, the reactor compartment.
The first step of the Russian Navy flagship's journey is done. Now the Peter the Great has passed through the Straits of Gibraltar, the gates of the Mediterranean Sea. Ten thousand km of sailing is behind with friendly visits to Libya, Turkey and France. Ahead lies three weeks of sailing across the rough Atlantic and Venezuela. The Peter the Great is moving at 18 kts, almost 32 km/hr. Those numbers don't sound like much, but considering great weight of the 27,000 ton ship, it becomes clear what kind of power plant is required to move such a mountain of metal. Our camera team was permitted to check out the reactor zone. To go down there with the crew we needed to obtain special passes with a lot of signatures and stamps on them.
"This is the most powerful shipboard engine in the world. It allows the ship to circle the earth at the equator 50 times. The steam generated by the reactor turns turbines that each generate 70,000 hp."
That's a total of 140,000 hp. The nuclear power plant could supply electricity to a small city. The processes in the reactor are controlled second by second, 24 hours a day by special equipment manned by specially trained sailors. Each one receives a dosimeter and when leaving the reactor area they revceive a scan for radiation.
"So what has gone on during the month and a half at sea...well, so far there hasn't been any leak of radioactive substances into the sea or ocean."
And here is the TsUP - central control. The sailors jokingly call it "being in the soup". From here all the electrical supply systems for the ship are controlled. The scale of the equipment is grandiose - huge buttons and breakers and redundant systems.
"The ship is built for battle. If the ship is damaged in battle, it has to tranfer operations to secondary systems and continue to function."
This is the main propulsion shaft on the Peter the Great. There are two on the ship, each more than 100 meters long. The reactor makes 400 degree high pressure steam which turns two screws, each with a diameter of three meters and weighing seven tons. These screws literally make the water boil, throwing up a white wake larger than any other non-aircraft carrier warship in the world and trailing the ship for kilometers.