The Eastern Arctic Seas Encyclopedia

2016 Edition
| Editors: Igor S. Zonn, Andrey G. Kostianoy, Aleksandr V. Semenov

“A. Sibiryakov”

Reference work entry

“A. Sibiryakov” (up to 1916 “Bellaventure”) – an icebreaker of the USSR Arctic fleet, which was the first to pass along the Northern Sea Route in one navigation. S. was built by “Henderson and Co.” in Glasgow, England, in 1909, for a Canadian hunting company and purchased by Russia in 1915 for winter navigation in the Barents Sea, being renamed in the honor of A. N. Sibiryakov, an explorer, merchant, and gold industry entrepreneur, who did a lot for the Northern Sea Route exploration. The length is 76.5 m, width 10.8 m, draft 5.1 m, deadweight 3,200 t, speed 13 knots, crew 50 people, and scientists 12. After the Civil War in Russia (1917–1922), she was used for hunting in the “gorlo” of the White Sea and as a transport supply vessel. In 1932 she undertook the first famous voyage along the Northern Sea Route from West to East, for the first time sailing along Severnaya Zemlya in one navigation, in 2 months and 5 days (65 days) (Captain V. I. Voronin, the head of the expedition O. Yu. Shmidt, scientific leader V. Yu. Vize), despite the fact that in the East Siberian Sea all the four blades of the propeller went wrong and the end of the propeller shaft broke off. In 1932 “A. S.” expedition connected previously isolated parts of the Arctic navigation and drew the line under the first stage of the USSR Arctic experience. The same year “A. S.” was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labour. In 1936 it crashed into the rocky chain off the Novaya Zemlya coast in the Kara Sea and sank. But in the following year, it was lifted by Special Purpose Underwater Work Expedition (EPRON) and repaired in Arkhangelsk. Since the beginning of the Great Patriotic War (1941–1945), the icebreaker served in the icebreaker unit of the White Sea Fleet under the name “LD-6.” She was reinforced by arms, two guns 76.2 mm and 45 mm, and machine guns. In August 25, 1942, in the Kara Sea, when “A. S.” (Captain A. A. Kacharava) was heading to Molotov (now Arkticheskiy) Cape (Severnaya Zemlya) to bring workers to the polar station, near the Belukha Island, it was met by German heavy cruiser “Admiral Scheer.” “A. S.” perished after an unequal fight; it was sunk by the crew, which opened its flood holes. After this fight it got yet another name “Arctic Varyag.” From 104 crew members and passengers (personnel of the arctic station), only a coal passer managed to reach the Belukha Island, from which he was taken by hydroplane in 38 days. Nineteen crew members were captured, with only 13 returning to Russia after the war. In 1965 the coordinates where “A. S.” fought and perished were declared place of fighting glory. By order of the navy commander in chief, military honors are given in the area of “A. S” perish. A model of the vessel is in the museum of Murmansk steam navigation. A beacon is set on the Belukha Island in honor of the icebreaker’s feat.

A bank in the Barents Sea and a mountain in the Antarctic on the Enderby Land are named after the vessel. In honor of the “A. S.” crew, a strait in the Kara Sea north from the Dikson Island is named Sibiryakovtsev Strait. In 1945 “Yaakarkhu” (“Polar Bear”) transferred to the USSR as reparation and, being part of the USSR Arctic Fleet, was renamed “Sibiryakov”.

“Sibiryakov”: a Soviet postage stamp (Source:

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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016