The newly-launched vessel is the first in a series of two vessels that were ordered by the Russian Ministry of Defence. The second icebreaker is scheduled for delivery in 2024.

The vessel is able to operate as a tugboat, patrol ship and an icebreaker. The icebreaker will protect and monitor the water resources in difficult ice conditions, escort and tow detained vessels to the port, escort and support support vessels, participate in rescue operations, and transport special cargoes.

The Papanin is envisioned as Russia's answer to the Norwegian Coast Guard's Svalbard-class icebreaking rescue tug, which mounts one deck gun and can carry a small air-defense system.

However, Papanin is being constructed as a naval vessel, equipped with eight Kalibr-NK cruise missiles, Papanin will have an over-the-horizon anti-surface, land-attack capability, something more commonly associated with a frigate or a destroyer than a patrol boat.

Papanin is designed to break ice up to about five feet thick, about the same specification as the U.S. Coast Guard medium icebreaker Healy. She is also fitted with a hangar for one helicopter and a launch davit for two high-speed patrol boats.

Overall, Russia wants to dominate the Arctic, as it aims to attract shippers to transfer their products through the NSR competing with Suez.