Military Review

Hero of the Arctic George Sedov

Hero of the Arctic George Sedov

140 years ago, 5 May 1877, was born Russian hydrograph, polar explorer Georgy Yakovlevich Sedov. The Russian explorer devoted his whole life and all his strength to the study and conquest of the Arctic. This was a man extremely passionate about his work, exceptional endurance and courage. Overcoming incredible difficulties, with small funds collected privately, he conducted important research on Novaya Zemlya and tragically died during an expedition to the North Pole.

Hike George Sedov on "St. Foke’s martyr ”to the North Pole in 1912, became one of the most tragic and heroic pages in the centuries-old stories development of the Arctic. The name of Sedov includes two bays and a peak on Novaya Zemlya, a glacier and a cape on Franz Josef Land, an island in the Barents Sea, a cape in Antarctica and the icebreaker Georgy Sedov.

Difficult youth

George Sedov was born on 23 on April (5 in May) on 1877 in a poor fishing family in the Krivaya Kosa farm (Don Region, now Sedovo village in the Novoazovsk district of the Donetsk region). The family had four sons and five daughters. George's father, Yakov Evteevich, was engaged in fishing and sawing wood. Mother, Natalia Stepanovna, hired as a woman to feed the children. Life in a large family was poor, it happened that the children were starving. Georgy, from an early age, helped his father in the field, and he early learned the sea and the dangers associated with it. At the moment when his father temporarily left the family, Georgii slaughtered a rich Cossack, worked for food.

His parents were illiterate, and did not want to give to school and son. Only in 1891, at the age of fourteen, did Sedov manage to enroll in a three-grade elementary school, which he graduated at two years old, finding great learning abilities. At school, he was the first student, an unofficial assistant teacher, a senior in the system of military gymnastics, and at the end he received a commendation sheet. After finishing school, the young man again rotten, then served as an employee in a trading warehouse. Free time, mainly nights, he devoted himself to self-education, read books.

The dream comes true

The young man dreamed of becoming a sea captain. After a conversation with the young captain of the schooner, moored on the quay of the Curved Spit, the idea got stronger, and the young man firmly decided to enter the nautical classes of Taganrog or Rostov-on-Don. His parents were against his son's studies, so he began to secretly prepare to leave the house - he saved money, hid his metric certificate and a letter of merit from the parish school.

In 1894, George left his family and reached Taganrog, and thence by steamer to Rostov-on-Don. The inspector of nautical classes set him a condition that he would take him to study if George sailed for three months on a merchant ship. The young man got a job as a sailor on the ship "Trud" and walked on it through the Azov and Black Seas. Sedov entered the “Nautical classes” named after Count Kotzebue in Rostov-on-Don, after which he wrote a letter to his parents about this. Parents, upon learning of admission, changed their minds and began to support their son. George, in turn, sent them the money saved. In the second half of the year, the young man was exempted from tuition fees for excellent progress in his studies, then transferred to the second grade without exams. In the summer of 1895, Sedov worked as a helmsman on the ship “Trud”, and the next navigation was the second mate.

In 1898, Sedov successfully graduated from college. Then he sailed captain in small ships on the Black and Mediterranean seas. However, he wanted to continue his studies. George Yakovlevich dreamed of doing science and making scientific expeditions, and for this it was necessary to go to the navy.


Sedov enrolled as a volunteer in the navy and arrived in Sevastopol, where he was enrolled in the training team and appointed navigator of the training ship "Berezan". In the 1901 year, having received the rank of ensign of the reserve, George Yakovlevich lived in St. Petersburg. There, he took an external exam for the course of the marine corps and was promoted to lieutenant of the reserve. Rear Admiral Alexander Kirillovich Drizhenko, inspector of nautical classes, helped Sardov prepare for passing the exam in the Marine Corps, who sent him the program of the Marine Corps and literature, and also supplied him with a letter of recommendation to his brother, FK Drizhenko. Fedor Kirillovich Drizhenko took Sedov well. On his advice, Sedov in 1902 entered the service in the Main Hydrographic Office.

From that moment until his death, Sedov was engaged in research and mapping various waters, seas, islands in the north, northeast, the Far East and in the south. In April, 1902, Mr. G. Ya. Sedov was appointed assistant chief of the hydrographic expedition to the Pakhtusov vessel, equipped in Arkhangelsk to study the northern seas. On this vessel, Sedov sailed 1902 and 1903, taking pictures and descriptions of the New Earth shores. Sedov’s work was highly appreciated by the expedition leader, the hydrograph A. I. Varnek: “Whenever it was necessary to find someone to perform a difficult and responsible task, sometimes with considerable danger, my choice fell on him, and he carried out these assignments with full energy, necessary caution and expertise. "

In 1904, he was appointed to the Amur River flotilla, commanded the Minnock No. 48 and guarded the entrance to the Amur from the Japanese. After the war with Japan, Sedov served in the Navy in the Pacific Ocean for two years. In 1905, Georgy Yakovlevich was appointed assistant pilot of the Nikolaev-on-Amur fortress. May 2, 1905 "for excellent diligent service" was awarded the Order of St. Stanislav 3rd degree. In 1906 and 1907 he published the articles “The Northern Ocean Route” and “The Importance of the Northern Ocean Route for Russia” in the newspaper “Ussuriyskaya Zhizn”, where he substantiated the further development of the Northern Sea Route.

In 1908, he worked in the expedition of the Caspian Sea under the leadership of F. K. Drizhenko, where he conducted reconnaissance work to compile new navigation maps. In 1909, he, with little money, produced a large amount of scientific research in the area of ​​the mouth of the Kolyma: he did the measurements, made maps, explored the first (sea) and second (river) bars (sandbars at the mouth of the river). It turned out that the river pushes the sand bar of the sea bar farther and farther into the ocean, on average 100 meters per year. George Sedov found out the possibility of sailing ships in this part of the Arctic Ocean. The results of the expedition of G. Ya. Sedov to Kolyma were positively assessed by the Academy of Sciences, the Russian Geographical Society, the Astronomical Society and a number of other scientific institutions and individual scientists. The Russian Geographical Society elected Georgy Sedov as a full member.

In 1910, a Russian industrial settlement appeared in Cross Bay on Novaya Zemlya. In this regard, there is a need for a hydrographic study of the bay in order to organize the possibility for ships to enter it. For the production of inventory and measurement of the Cross Bay, George Sedov was sent. He had a brilliant expedition. Sedov gave a general geographical description of the Cross Bay (Gulf). Meteorological and hydrological observations were continuously made. The suitability of Novaya Zemlya for settlement was proved. Both expeditions — to Kolyma and Krestovaya Bay — gave a number of new geographic data, according to which the geographical maps of the studied Sedov regions were significantly modified and refined. In addition to conducting these expeditions, Sedov was also involved in mapping the Caspian coast. Thus, he became a professional hydrograph and gained a great deal of personal experience exploring the seas, mainly the Arctic.

Preparing an expedition to the North Pole

George Sedov dreamed of conquering the North Pole. Already in 1903, Sedov had the idea of ​​traveling to the North Pole. In subsequent years, this thought turned into an all-consuming passion. At that time, the Americans, Norwegians, and representatives of other countries competed in reaching the North Pole. In particular, the Americans Frederick Cook (1908) and Robert Peary (1909) declared the conquest of the North Pole. Georgy Yakovlevich argued by all available means that the Russians should take part in this contest. In March, 1912 Sedov submitted a report to the head of the Main Hydrographic Department, in which he announced his desire to open the North Pole and the program of his polar expedition. He wrote: "... the hot impulses of the Russian people to the discovery of the North Pole manifested themselves in the days of Lomonosov and have not died away so far ... We will go this year and prove to the whole world that the Russians are capable of this feat."

The base for reaching the North Pole George Sedov marked Franz Josef Land. Wintering was supposed here, during which “the expedition, if possible, explores the shores of this land, describes the bays and finds anchorage sites, and also explores the island commercially: collects various collections that can meet here in various branches of science; identifies astronomical items and makes a variety of magnetic observations; organizes meteorological and hydrological stations; erecting a lighthouse in a prominent place near the best anchor bay ”. For the planned expedition, Sedov requested a very small amount for such a business - 60-70 thousand rubles.

A group of members of the State Duma in March 1912 made a proposal to leave from the treasury funds to organize an expedition to the North Pole. The proposal was supported by the Marine Ministry. However, the Council of Ministers refused the money, and condemned the plan of the expedition of Sedov. However, contrary to the decision of the government and the hostility of some naval leaders who saw “upstart” in Sedov, George Yakovlevich independently set about preparing the expedition. Without a personal fortune, and without receiving help from the authorities, it was difficult to organize such an expedition. Sedov, with the active support of the newspaper Novoye Vremya and its co-owner M. A. Suvorin, organized a collection of voluntary donations for the needs of the expedition. Numerous publications in the “New Time” have caused a great public response in Russia. A private contribution of 10 thousand rubles was made even by Tsar Nicholas II. Suvorin gave the expedition a loan - 20 thousand rubles. It was possible to collect about 12 thousand more. The donators were awarded signs with the inscription "To the donor on the expedition of senior lieutenant Sedov to the North Pole".

In St. Petersburg and on the site of the expedition equipment - in Arkhangelsk, Sedov had to overcome many obstacles. With difficulty, I found a ship from a private person for an expedition. With the funds raised in July, 1912 of Sedov rented the old sailing-steam schooner "Holy Great Martyr Fock" (formerly the Norwegian fur-breeding bark "Geyser") built by 1870. Because of the rush, the ship could not be completely repaired, it was leaking. It also turned out that the load capacity of the Fokey does not allow us to take all the necessary expedition loads, we had to leave part of the vital ones (including stoves). At the same time, just before the departure, the shipowner refused to lead the ship equipped for the expedition and took off almost the entire crew. Sedov had to recruit the first people. Arkhangelsk merchants supplied the expedition with spoiled food and unsuitable dogs (including mongrels caught on the street). With great difficulty, they got a radio device, but they did not manage to get a radio operator. So I had to leave without radio installation.

Expedition member Vladimir Wise wrote: “Much of the equipment ordered was not ready on time ... Hastily a team was recruited, there were few professional sailors in it. Hastily food was purchased, and the Archangel merchants took advantage of the haste and slipped substandard products. Hastily in Arkhangelsk were purchased at a greatly over priced dog - simple mongrel. Fortunately, a gang of wonderful sled dogs, procured in Western Siberia in advance, arrived in time. ”

The doctor P. G. Kushakov already during the expedition described the situation with supplies in his diary as follows: “They were looking for lights and lamps all the time — but they did not find anything. They also did not find a single kettle, not a single hiking pot. Sedov says that all this was ordered, but, in all likelihood, was not expelled ... Corned beef turns out to be rotten, it cannot be completely eaten. When you boil it, there is such a deadly smell in the cabins that we must all run away. The cod was rotten too. ”

Wintering "St. Fokey "at the New Earth


In August, 1912 expedition aboard the ship "St. Great Martyr Fok" left Arkhangelsk to the pole. After leaving Arkhangelsk, G. Ya. Sedov renamed "Holy Great Martyr Fok" to "Mikhail Suvorin." Sedov supposed to get to Franz Josef Land in the same year. But the late arrival and the particularly difficult ice conditions in the Barents Sea forced the expedition to winter on Novaya Zemlya.

Wintering significantly depleted material resources and exhausted people. However, this hard time, scientists used for the most important scientific research. In Foki Bay, where the expedition hibernated, regular scientific observations were made. Trips were made to the nearest islands, Cape Litke, and the north-east coast of Novaya Zemlya was described. All these works were carried out in extremely difficult conditions. George Sedov himself went to 63 of the day from the wintering place near Pankratiev Peninsula, along the coast to Cape Zhelaniya and further to Cape Vissinger (Vlissinger) - Goft, at both ends, about 700 kilometers. At the same time it was taken a route survey on the 1: 210000 scale and four astronomical and magnetic points were identified, discrepancies with previous maps were found. For the first time, Sedov skirted the northern extremity of the northern island of Novaya Zemlya on sleds, while his companions Vise and Pavlov were the first to cross the island along 76 ° Sev. latitude. Pavlov and Wiese found out the geography of the inner part of Novaya Zemlya in the field of continuous glaciation, conducted other important studies. On the results of wintering on Novaya Zemlya G. Ya. Sedov in his diary noted that the expedition had done "a great scientific work in many branches of science."

In June, 1913, Captain Zakharov and four diseased crew members were sent to the Cross Bay to transfer expedition materials and mail to Arkhangelsk. The letter to the “Committee to equip expeditions to the North Pole and to study the Russian polar countries” requested to send a ship with coal and dogs to Franz Josef Land. Zakharov's group on the boat, first by dragging through snow and ice, and then on oars crossed more than 450 kilometers and, having passed the Bay of the Krestovaya Bay, reached Matochkin Shara. From there, a regular steamer reached Arkhangelsk. Interestingly, the expedition of G. Sedov at that moment was already considered dead.

George Sedov on board the schooner "Mikhail Suvorin" ("St. Fock")

Only in September, 1913, the “Mikhail Suvorin” got rid of the ice enclosing it. On the vessel there was almost no fuel, stocks could not be replenished. Ice fields could wipe the ship, break it or carry it. However, Sedov decided to go to Franz Joseph Land. Off the coast of Franz Josef Land, the ship was again covered with ice. A bay was chosen for wintering, which Sedov called Silent. In his diary, he wrote: “The old, decrepit ship got to these latitudes, especially since on the way to the Barents Sea we had as much ice as no expedition seemed to meet (belt width 3 ° 3 ' ), and if we add here a very limited supply of fuel and a rather low speed of the vessel, then we can safely say that our expedition truly accomplished a feat. ”

The bay was really "Quiet", convenient for wintering. The ship could come very close to the shore. However, the situation with vital supplies has become critical. There was no fuel. They burned the fat of the animals being killed, burned wooden objects on the ship, even bulkheads between the cabins. The main food was porridge. Stinging appeared among the expedition members. She was avoided only by those participants of the campaign who ate hunted meat of walruses, bears and even dog meat, who drank bear blood. Most, including Sedov, refused to eat such food. As a result, George Yakovlevich from a cheerful and energetic man turned into a silent and sick. He often became ill. But still wanted to reach the pole.

2 (15) February 1914, Sedov and the sailors accompanying him G.V. Linnik and A.M. Pustoshny in three dog sleds reached the North Pole. In this regard, Sedov wrote: “So, today we stand at the pole: this is an event for us and for our homeland. The great Russian people, Lomonosov, Mendeleev and others, had long dreamed of this day. It was a great honor for us, small people, to fulfill their dream and make a feasible ideological and scientific achievement in the polar research for pride and for the benefit of our fatherland. May this order, may this, perhaps, my last word serve you with all the memory of mutual friendship and love. Goodbye, dear friends! ”

Sedov was sick. On the way, his illness intensified. He was choking with cough, often fainted. This campaign was caused by despair, he did not want to give up the dream. Although the mind understood that the expedition failed. In recent days, he could no longer walk, but sat tied on sledges so as not to fall. In oblivion, he sometimes said: “everything is lost,” but he did not want to go back. Not reaching Rudolf Island (the northernmost of the islands of the Franz Josef Archipelago), on the eighteenth day of the hike, Sedov died on February 20 (March 5) 1914 of the year and was buried on the Cape of Auk of this island. Linnik and Pustoshny could return to the ship. Foka in August 1914 got to the Rynd fishing camp on Murman and the remaining members of the expedition escaped.

During the expedition, G. Ya. Sedov in St. Petersburg and abroad wrote and talked a lot about the need to assist the Russian polar expeditions — Sedov, Brusilov and Rusanov (the expeditions of G. L. Brusilov and V. A. Rusanov were killed). The head of the Russian Geographical Society P. P. Semenov-Tian-Shansky, the famous polar explorer F. Nansen and others spoke out resolutely about this. It was possible to provide timely assistance to the expedition of George Sedov, but this was not done. The staff of this expedition, Pavlov, Wiese, Pinegin, on their return wrote to the Minister of War: “Sedov’s request for assistance in sending a ship with coal in the 1913 year ... was not met. The latter destroyed the plans of Sedov and was the cause of all the disasters of the expedition ... "

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  1. Victor N
    Victor N 5 May 2017 07: 16
    Amazing determination and energy! Breaking out of the farm, becoming a Fleet officer at that time - this alone is an achievement. And research is the summit available to few.
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 5 May 2017 07: 22
    Again the snowstorm roars like a bear
    Food is a thin fish.
    Sedov would have broken any enemy:
    Both cold and hunger. But scurvy ...
    And legs, swollen, like blocks ...
    E. Asadov ...
  3. midshipman
    midshipman 5 May 2017 07: 30
    Great man, scientist! Eternal memory to him.
    We cadets often read his works and admired him. In 1955, in practice, on the White Sea, I stayed on the auxiliary ship Peter Pakhtusov, which is discussed in the article. Was part of the warhead-5. I went on a ship for 4 months as a cadet. I've seen a lot. But then life turned me to aviation from the fleet. But my first rank as lieutenant and commander of the BS-5 patrol ship I received in 1957. I was on Novaya Zemlya, I had to go through the NSR several times. I have the honor.
  4. Olgovich
    Olgovich 5 May 2017 08: 00
    “They searched all the time for lamps, lamps - but they didn’t find anything. They also did not find a single kettle, not a single camping pot. Sedov says that all this was ordered, but, in all likelihood, not sent ... The corned beef is rotten, you can’t eat it at all. When you cook it, then in the cabins there is such a cadaverous smell that we must all run away. The cod was also rotten. ”

    That is, the money was paid, but the goods were either not received or of poor quality. The one who was engaged in this part turned out to be an unsuitable business executive. Sedov, as the leader, was responsible for everything and had to personally control the supply, people believed him that everything was in order.

    Sedov, of course, is a hero, but earthly issues must be resolved too.

    By 1914, immediately three Russian Arctic expeditions of V. A. Rusanova, G. L. Brusilov and G. Ya. Sedov considered missing. At the initiative of the Russian Geographical Society on January 18, 1914 Council of Ministers He instructed the Ministry of the Sea to organize their searches, and he financed ALL the costs associated with expedition.
    In total, four vessels participated in the expedition, including Eclipse and Hertha. the government for the needs of the expedition, and Andromeda and Pechora were rented, a special seaplane was purchased.

    World's first Russian pilot Nagursky flew beyond the Arctic Circle: over the sea and Novaya Zemlya. He found traces of the Sedov expedition, for the first time in the world carried out ice reconnaissance from the air to guide ships.
    At the end of the expedition filed a report on the organization of the flight to the North Pole. The report was approved, but the PMV prevented ....
    1. Victor N
      Victor N 5 May 2017 08: 58
      Thank! A valuable addition. Rescue expeditions also fit into the Arctic exploration process and have their heroes, unfortunately, little-known, but worthy of respect.
  5. Catherine II
    Catherine II 5 May 2017 15: 34
    In Soviet times, explorers of the North were very popular. There was a boom in interest in the NSR.
    I read about Sedov and others from childhood (already during the breakup).
    And he always noted, the organization of life is terrible .. Food and equipment are just a disaster ... And so from memory where expeditions were not equipped, at least to India, at least for the pole. Some kind of trouble ... Feats contrary to organization ...
    In honor of the hero, the village was named Sedovo. By the way, these are Separate areas of Donetsk and Lugansk regions
    1. Saling
      Saling 7 December 2017 11: 27
      There is a claim to this monument - for some reason, a magnificent hair was made to the bust of “Sedov”. And in most photos he is with a very short haircut, or even a haircut a la "under Kotovsky." So there are doubts, but is it Sedov at all?