A New Vostok!

Vostok II artists conception
Above, an undated conceptual drawing of the new station (this and other photos of the new station
were released by Russia's Ministry of Natural Resources unless otherwise indicated).

27 December 2020 update: after leaving St. Petersburg on 5 October, Sevmorput headed south at 18 knots...until about the 16th when it was west of Angola...when it started zigzagging north and south at 6-7 knots...attracting attention and prompting this 20 October Barents Observer article. The vessel operator Rosatomflot was not forthcoming with information about the ship's condition, as mentioned in this 13 November Barents Observer article. Since Sevmorput was nuclear powered, it could not make port in Luanda, Angola. So, after it was determined that one of the four blades on the single screw had probably broken off, a team of Russian divers was flown to the vessel to investigate...they cut off the opposite blade and made things symmetrical so that the vessel could at least operate at a greater speed without excessive vibration; this work was underway on 18 November. The decision was then made for the Sevmorput to return to St. Petersburg where the Vostok station components would be offloaded before the vessel entered drydock for repairs. Sevmorput was to be assisted at the ice edge as needed by the icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn, which had left Murmansk on 27 September for Progress. It carried about 98 construction workers who were to assist with the offload at Progress and initial preparation for the traverses to Vostok. The icebreaker arrived at Progress in early November, returned north to Cape Town for fuel and supplies, and then continued north to accompany Sevmorput. This and more information can be found in this 26 November Barents Observer article as well as this 22 December meduza.io article and this 26 November kommersant.ru article (in Russian, use your favorite translator). In any case, it appears that the new Vostok construction project will be delayed for at least a year.

But...there is more. The Captain of Sevmorput was medevaced off the ship by helicopter to the Canary Islands in the third week of December; he was flown to Las Palmas with meningitis symptoms. As of now (2326 UTC 27 December) the vessel was in the Baltic Sea at 54ºN-12ºE and was expected to reach St. Petersburg on the 30th.

a new VostokAt left is a conceptual view of the other side of the new station (source: waponline.it), which will face the existing station complex. It has been constructed at the Pilot Plant of Building Structures located in Gatchina, about 20 miles south of St. Petersburg--this plant site has had significant construction experience iof townships in the Russian Arctic. Amazingly, the project proposal development was only ordered in April 2019 by Dmitry Medvedev, then the Russian president! The Danish consulting engineering firm Rambøll was part of the development process. They were also involved in the BAS modernization program for Rothera. The prime construction contractor is Novatek PSJC, which is western-Siberia based with a sales office in Moscow (company home page and Morningstar profile). They are Russia's second largest natural gas producer, with extensive engineering and construction experience with LNG facilities and military bases in the Russian Arctic.

Vostok II artists conception
Above, a conceptual drawing of the new station released in March of 2020. It shows the other side of the new
station, identifies the various modules, and depicts the proposed location of the new structure relative to the
existing station facilities. Source: @Antarctic_Infra.

During the 2019-20 summer season, preliminary grading and compaction was conducted at the station site, additional fuel was supplied to Progress (where the station materials are to be delivered), construction camp modules were also delivered, and fuel bases were set up on the traverse route from Progress to Vostok. At present, the structure is being disassembled for shipment south to Progress station aboard the nuclear cargo icebreaker (more on the deployment and traverse delivery below).

So...let's have a look at the new station before it was being disassembled for shipment. All of these photos come from this 27 August press release from Russia's Ministry of Natural Resources unless otherwise indicated (use your favorite translator):

trial assembly of the new station
This is probably the most revealing photo of the station trial assembly...although there is that facade with colors of the Russian flag...it is apparent that the actual station components are the size of shipping containers, as they will be transported to Vostok. I'm wondering if insulation will be installed between the structure and the facade.
stairway entrance
Here's another front view of the station as set up for the tour. My source for this photo is the W.A.P. Worldwide Antarctic Program site mentioned below.
Vostok hallway
A look down one of the station hallways.
one of the Vostok II berthing rooms
One of the two-person berthing rooms.
a single room
And a single berthing room. This photo is from the MIL-OSI page linked below.
one of the Vostok II modules
Here is a closer look at one of the modules...
an overhead view
...and an overhead view.
a boiler room
A boiler room.
the tour in one of the mechanical rooms
One of the mechanical rooms being visited by the tour group...

...which consisted of Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Viktoria Abramchenko; Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Dmitry Kobylkin; Head of Roshydromet Igor Shumakov; Leningrad Region Governor Alexander Drozdenko; and Novatek Chairman of the Board Leonid Mikhelson. I can't identify these people in the various uncaptioned photos, which come from the Ministry of National Resources and Environment website mentioned above.

The station is designed to support 15 winterovers and 35 summer folks...some of the new station statistics include: 22 single winterover rooms, 13 seasonal personnel rooms, glaciological and andvanced research labs, 7 rooms devoted to kitchen, mess, and food storage, rest and recreation areas including a pool table and fitness equipment, a hydroponic greenhouse, medical facilities, sauna, laundry room, water supply and conditioning equipment, power plant, heated garage, workshop spaces, a 60kw emergency power plant (note that the current Vostok power plant is capable of 270kw!), a 550 tonne diesel fuel cache, and a solar battery farm to generate power during the summer. Completion is scheduled for 2023-24...and the old Vostok structures will be retrograded. The information in this paragraph is from Russia's report presented at the 2019 Antarctic Treaty meeting in Prague (a Word document)...that document also states that an environmental impact assessment would be submitted to the Antarctic Treaty nations prior to the start of Antarctic construction...this has not happened yet, perhaps due to the global pandemic...as the 2020 Antarctic Treaty meeting was canceled.

SovmorputAs for the deployment from St. Petersburg to Progress, that was/is to happen using the nuclear cargo icebreaker Sevmorput, which headed south from St. Petersburg on 5 October 2020. Interestingly, the vessel name Sevmorput (Севморпуть) is a Russian acronym for the North Sea Route. It was launched in 1988, and its maiden voyage in 1988-89 took it from Ukraine, through the Mediterranean, and around Africa to the Russian Arctic, so obviously unlike some of the older Russian icebreakers built solely for the Northern Sea Route, Sevmorput's cooling system could handle equatorial water temperatures. Here is the Wikipedia article about this unique vessel. At left, a photo of Sevmorput As for the deployment from Progress to Vostok, that will happen using a massive fleet of Pisten Bullys. This 15 February 2020 Barents Observer article mentions the forthcoming Sevmorput voyage to Antarctica and shows two photos of the vessel.

Below, a 24 April 2019 YouTube video depicting the transport methods which have been developed, as well as some glimpses of the Vostok tunnels. The video was from a presentation by Leonid Mikhelson, the PJSC Novatek chairman of the board (he was also part of the tour mentioned above), to the Board of Trustees of the Russian Geographical Society on 23 April 2019 (source link).

Russian traverse vehicles.

Other sources and info...the photo of Sevmorput as well as other information was discovered from posts by Alexey Loginov and others on a since-removed Antarctic Facebook group. The video above and other information was shared by the W.A.P. Worldwide Antarctic Program website. And other information came from the MIL-OSI New Zealand Global Affairs website--a translation of a Russian language document.