The Far East of Russia is home to a snow-covered shipyard where workers labor in subzero temperatures during the harsh Siberian winter. They are engaged in ‘vymorozka,’ or ‘freezing out,’ repairs on massive vessels. Despite the extreme conditions, these backbreaking and tedious tasks take weeks to complete.
The ships are docked in the harbor of Yakutsk on the banks of the Lena River, which is Siberia’s economic lifeblood during summer months but freezes over in winter. Locals consider this job one of the hardest in the world, but workers say it’s all about perspective.
Mikhail Klus, a worker at the shipyard, believes that dressing appropriately for cold weather and entering warm buildings makes the job manageable. He acknowledges that while it’s difficult, there are tougher jobs out there. The work requires strength, stamina and extreme precision as workers must avoid cutting ice too quickly and breaking through to the water below. The colder temperatures make ice freeze better, making the job smoother. However, temperatures can take a toll on some workers.
Twenty-two-year-old Artyom Kovalec shares that negative emotions can creep in when working in such extreme conditions, but he knows he must push through and maintain a positive attitude to continue working on this challenging project.