Investment Portal of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation

Sailing through the ice

Ninety years ago, the icebreaker Aleksandr Sibiryakov first completed the North Sea Route in one navigation

16 march 2022

Seafarers had dreamed of sailing the North Sea Route without wintering breaks since the middle of the 19th century. The expedition led by Otto Schmidt on the icebreaker Aleksandr Sibiryakov was the first to reach the Pacific Ocean from Arkhangelsk in one navigation.

On 28 July 1932, the icebreaking steamer Aleksandr Sibiryakov set out and, for the first time in history, circumnavigated the archipelago from the north. The icebreaker circumnavigated Severnaya Zemlya for the second time only in 1995, 63 years later. When the Bering Strait was only about a hundred miles away, one of the propellers broke against the ice. The crew made a desperate decision and swayed up sails made of tarpaulin pieces. 1 October 1932 saw a great victory: the ship reached the clear water right at the entrance to the Bering Strait.

The fishing vessel Ussuriets towed Sibiryakov to Yokohama, a Japanese port, where the icebreaker underwent repairs. Having a new propeller installed, the icebreaker left Japan on 1 January 1933, rounded Eurasia by the South Route and arrived in Murmansk on 7 March.

The key result of the expedition was the creation of the Chief Directorate of the North Sea Route (Glavsevmorput Directorate) tasked with the development of the Arctic.


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