Icebreaker Vaygach

Icebreaker Vaygach

Icebreaker "Vaygach" was an icebreaking steamer of moderate size built for the Russian Imperial Navy at St. Petersburg in 1908. It was named after Vaygach Island in the Russian Arctic.

Icebraker "Vaygach" and her sister ship "Taymyr" were built for the purpose of thoroughly exploring the uncharted areas of the Northern Sea Route. This venture became known as the Arctic Ocean Hydrographic Expedition.

The first of a series of surveys began in the autumn of 1909, when the "Vaygach" and the "Taymyr" left Vladivostok. They entered the Chukchi Sea with scientists on board and began their exploration. For the next five years, these icebreakers went on sounding and carrying on vital surveys during the thaw. Before every winter, when ice conditions became too bad, they returned to Vladivostok and waited for the spring.In 1911 the scientists and crew aboard the "Vaygach" and the "Taymyr" made the first Russian landing on Wrangel Island.

In 1913, led by Colonel I. Sergeev, the "Vaygach" sailed together with the "Taymyr", whose Captain was Boris Vilkitsky. Togethere, they tried to force the whole Northern Passage in order to reach Archangelsk. Severe weather and ice conditions, however, didn't allow them to cross the Kara Sea and they were forced to winter at Bukhta Dika, close to the Firnley Islands. Thus they were able to complete the passage only in 1914.

Some of the biggest successes of the expedition were the accurate charting of the Northern Sea Route and the discovery of Severnaya Zemlya in 1912. Icebreakers "Taymyr" and "Vaygach" were considered the best icebreakers in the world in their time.

"Vaigach" struck an underwater rock and sank in 1917 in the Yenisei Bay of the Kara Sea. [Great Soviet Encyclopedia, [ entry on "Вайгач"] ] A nuclear river-icebreaker of the Soviet Navy, was named "Vaygach" in 1988.


* William Barr, "Otto Sverdrup to the Rescue of the Russian Imperial Navy".
* J. Niven, "The Ice Master, The Doomed 1913 Voyage of the Karluk".

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