Yermak (Russian: Ермак) (sometimes spelled Ermak) was a Russian and Soviet icebreaker, often referred to as the world's first true icebreaker, with a strengthened hull shaped to ride over and crush pack ice.
Yermak was built for the Imperial Russian Navy under the supervision of Admiral Stepan Osipovich Makarov by Armstrong Whitworth in Newcastle upon Tyne at its Low Walker yard and launched in 1898. She was named after the famous Russian explorer of Siberia, Don Cossack ataman Yermak Timofeyevich.
She was commissioned on 17 October 1898, She arrived in Kronstadt on March 4 of 1899 after breaking through ice and a formal reception was held to mark her arrival. Later in 1899 she reached 81°21'N north of Spitsbergen. She had been constructed to break through a heavy (up to 2 m thickness) ice.
Yermak had been used in winter of 1899-1900 to set up 1st radio communication link in Russia between Kotka and Gogland (Suursaar) island (distance 47 km). In 1900 she came to the aid of the cruiser Gromoboi which had grounded in the Baltic.
Between 1899-1911 Yermak sailed in a heavy ice conditions for more than 1000 days.
During World War I she assisted the Baltic Fleet during the Ice cruise when the fleet was evacuated from Helsigfors to Kronstadt in February 1918
During World War II the Yermak was mobilised again and took part in the evacuaton of Hango naval base. She was armed with two 102mm, two 76mm, 4 - 45mm and four machine guns.
Yermak served with different branches of Russian and Soviet Navy and Merchant Marine up until 1964, becoming one of longest-serving icebreakers in the world. An island in the Nordenski?ld Archipelago was named after this icebreaker.
A monument to the icebreaker Yermak was opened in Murmansk In November 1965 - this included mosaic panels and the original anchor on the pedestal.
Another icebreaker with the name Yermak was built for the Soviet Union at W?rtsil? shipyard in Helsinki, Finland in 1974.