Apparently some of us (myself included) were told in history class that the Russians were interested in control of Port Arthur/Dalian in part because their port at Vladivostok was not a warm water port (has to deal with sea ice in winter). The answerers to this question are unsure whether or not Vladivostok is currently a warm water port. This leads to a few questions.

  1. Was Vladivostok a warm water port circa 1900?

  2. Is Vladivostok a warm water port now?

  3. If the port of Vladivostok currently or in the past relied on icebreakers to function year-round , when were these introduced?


1 Answer 1


The book "Gateways of Asia" by Frank Broeze, pg. 266, contains the following:

In spite of its good natural harbor, Vladivostok had several disadvantages....The head of Zolotoi Rog is frozen over for no less than some 100 to 110 days of the year. Freezing usually starts just before Christmas and the ice breaks in early April. Around the shores and at the head of the harbor, the ice is sometimes half a meter thick. The first rather futile ice-breaker arrived in January 1895. Today the port is kept ice-free by the exhaust water from the power plants churning water in the bay.

This leaves open the question of when effective icebreakers were introduced.

According to Wikipedia: Icebreakers, the Russian ship Yermak, launched in 1898, was "the first true modern sea-going icebreaker." Wikipedia:Yermak states that the Yermak could break 2-meter ice, sufficient to open the Vladivostok harbor.

Thus, we can conclude that at the time Russia occupied Port Arthur in 1897, Russia already had an icebreaker in Vladivostok, and was no more than a few years away from being able to effectively break the ice there.

  • 2
    It's not clear to me that Yermak was ever in the Russian Far East. Jul 19, 2019 at 14:12
  • That wasn't my implication
    – Colin
    Aug 5, 2019 at 22:10

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