Military Review

Ice cutter "Fedor Litke" - the history of the ship and ship


This unusual vessel, the Earl Gray, was built at 1909 in the British shipyards Vikkers for Canadians to work at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River and the Bay of the same name. Outwardly, with a graceful bow, topped with a bowsprit, a slightly inclined high chimney and an elongated superstructure, it looked more like a large steam yacht. By the way, it had the apartments of the Governor-General of Canada, cabins for 55 passengers of the 1 class and 20 for 2 passengers. The vessel was supposed to be used for the transport of mail and people, the protection of fisheries, etc.

The ship belonged to the category of icebreakers, but was very different from them. If for those the ratio of hull length to width is 3,5 - 4,5 - short and wide, they maneuver much better than the ships they watch over in maneuvers, then at Earl Gray it reached 5,5. The bow of the icebreakers above the waterline is usually straight, and below it is beveled at a large angle. This shape of the hull allows them not only to ram the ice with frontal impacts, but also to crawl onto it in order to crush their own weight. At Earl Gray, the nasal tip with a 31 mm thick skin was pointed, the sides were straight, so the ship cut ice, pushing the wreckage to the sides. To combat strong, perennial polar ice, the ice cutter was not intended and not suitable, and it remained the only example of its class in the world icebreaking navy.

At the start of the 1 World War II, Russia bought several icebreaking vessels abroad, including the Earl Gray. It was renamed “Canada” and transferred to the disposal of the Maritime Transport Authority of the White Sea-Murmansk region. As early as November 1914, the ice-cutter began to route Russian and allied transports with military cargoes through the freezing White Sea to Arkhangelsk. 9 January 1917 “Canada” was unlucky, she came across an underwater rock not marked on the map and sank in the Yokangi roadstead. 16 June it was lifted and sent for repair, and October 26 was armed and enrolled in the Arctic Ocean flotilla.

In January, 1918. Canada was demobilized. In the civil war, it was captured by the English invaders and transferred to the White Guards. In March 1920, they and others hastily left the Russian North, taking a number of Russian ships. But not “Canada” - staffed with red warmers, she tried to prevent this and entered into a firefight with the departing “Kozma Minin”. Thus, the first and so far the only artillery battle of icebreakers outside the Arctic Circle took place.

In April, 1920 “Canada” became the auxiliary cruiser of the Red White Sea flotilla, and a month later it received the third name “III International”. Ledorez had a chance to take part in the rescue of the white ship “Solovei Budimirovich” (later “Malygin”), which was covered with ice in the Kara Sea, - its passengers and crew were on the verge of death from cold and hunger

It was only in June 1921 that the “III International” was returned to Mortrans, and there again it was renamed on July 12, this time in honor of the famous navigator and geographer, President of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences, Admiral F. P. Litke (1797 — 1882). Designed to overcome the weak or broken ice, the ship conscientiously worked in the Arctic, conducting caravans, serving crafts and stations, then in the Baltic and Black Sea, in 1929 it returned to the Arctic, made a risky voyage to Wrangel Island and was awarded the Order of Labor Red Banner. In winter, 1931 confirmed its reputation - despite the extremely difficult conditions, it led a caravan to the Sea of ​​Okhotsk. Thanks largely to his captain N. M. Nikolayev, who before the revolution finished the Marine Corps and served in the North with 1917, in particular, on the icebreaker Stepan Makarov, gaining considerable experience.

In 1932 - 1933 "Litke" has become a forwarding ship, it settled scientists who worked on the program 2-th International Year of the Arctic.

It was possible icebreaker to participate in the "Chelyuskin" epic. Damage to the hull and mechanisms did not allow him to pass in the ice of the Chukchi Sea to bring the wiped steamer into the clear water, which, unlike Sibiryakov, was not destined to go along the Northern Sea Route from west to east in one navigation.

28 June 1934 “Litke” left Vladivostok and headed north. On board were members of the expedition headed by corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences V.Yu. Vize. Ledorez slowly and methodically overcame the Northern Sea Route, having at the same time rescued merchant ships stuck in Taimyr and worked for Fr. Dixon, providing the movement of caravans with economic cargoes. September 20 "Litke" moored in Murmansk, leaving thousands of miles as a stern, including 6 - in the ice. The government telegram sent to Nikolayev and Vize said: “We warmly congratulate and welcome the participants of the ice-cutter expedition” F. Litke "for the first time in stories Arctic voyages completing a single navigation through hike from the Far East to the West. Successes expedition “F. Litke "testifies to the solid conquest of the Arctic by the Soviet sailors." Many years later, the 3 polar explorer. M. Kanevsky emphasized a very important circumstance: “This voyage can be considered exemplary, it was superbly organized, carried out clearly, immaculately, using the best that science and technology had.” Numerous fights with ice were not in vain - an ice cutter immediately had to be put in for a thorough repair. But as early as next year, the usual steamers “Vanzetti” and “Iskra” passed through the Northern Sea Route from Murmansk to Vladivostok, and “Anadyr” and “Stalingrad” - on a reciprocal course.

In 1936, the town of Litke again distinguished itself — along with the icebreaker steamer Anadyr, the destroyers Stalin and Voykov sent along the coast of Siberia, sent from the Baltic to strengthen the Pacific Fleet. A participant in that operation, A. M. Matiyasevich, the senior assistant to the captain of the Anadyr (he commanded the Baltic submarine Lembit on Great Patriotic War) recalled: “Litke overcame separate ice clusters on the move, followed by Anadyr, extending the passage , then destroyers and locking tankers. For the first time in the history of navigation, warships passed the Northern Sea Route from the Barents Sea to the Bering Sea, rounding Cape Dezhnev. ”
The following year, the ice-cutter was unlucky - accompanying the 5 transports, he, along with them, got into the heavy ice, could not escape. Rescued a powerful icebreaker "Yermak". And again posting caravans, trips to the polar stations.

In 1939, the Soviet-Finnish war began. In January, the Litke 1940 was turned into the Northern Fleet patrol ship, in which capacity it remained until April 8, after which it was demobilized and returned to the General Directorate of the Administration of the Northern Sea Route. But, as it turned out, not for long. 25 July 1941 the ship was once again called into service, they raised a naval flag on it, installed two 45-mm cannons and several machine guns, assigning the next designation CKR-18 (patrol ship). Soon, the weapons were recognized as insufficient, and the forty-fives replaced the 130-mm guns.

In August, the patrol entered the newly formed Northern detachment of the White Sea Flotilla, which was to protect the new-land straits. However, it soon became clear that the German warships (except submarines) did not risk appearing in these waters, and CKR-18 was sent to do direct work - to drive caravans from the White Sea to Kara and back. On several occasions, the old ice-cutter carried out purely combat missions, for example, in January 1942 was escorting a damaged new line icebreaker “I. Stalin. " And 20 August itself was attacked by the enemy submarine U-456, but managed to avoid torpedoes. It was known that enemy pilots and submariners aggressively hunt for Soviet icebreakers, without which normal transportation of strategic cargoes across the polar seas would not be possible. Nevertheless, during the whole war the Germans did not succeed not only to sink, but also to permanently disable a single icebreaker.

By February 1944, the Northern Fleet was replenished with warships of domestic construction and received from the allies, the need for improvised trawlers and patrol boats began to disappear. Litke was handed over to the operational subordination to the Head Office of the Administration of the Northern Sea Route.

The war ended, and the ice-cutter again took up the usual work - escorting caravans and individual ships. And in 1946, an expedition set off on a high-altitude voyage on it, two years later such a voyage repeated - the possibility of launching transport ships along the so-called “Great Northern Polynia” was sought.

In 1955, participating in the next research enterprise organized by the Arctic Institute, he rose to 83 ° 21 'north latitude, setting a free-swimming record in the Arctic Ocean, not having reached all 440 miles (810 km) to the North Pole. This achievement over the years surpassed only huge icebreakers equipped with nuclear power plants.
14 in November 1958 of “Litke”, as completely outdated, was decommissioned and after some time was scrapped. At that time, his fate was also shared by other famous veterans of the Arctic - the Makarov icebreaker Yermak, the icebreaking steamers George Sedov, Dezhnev, and others who did a lot to make the Northern Sea Route a normal operating mainline.
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  1. svp67
    svp67 30 December 2017 08: 12
    When reading about heroes of polar explorers as a child, he very often met the name of this ship. Heroic boat, as in principle, and most of our ships in that area. Even then, she wondered why he was the “ice cutter”. Thanks to the author, now I understand. And he’s definitely an ICE-BREAKER, unlike other ICE-BREAKERS.
    1. Megatron
      Megatron 30 December 2017 17: 04
      A bit early written off, could still serve.
  2. igorra
    igorra 30 December 2017 11: 54
    Somehow we are not succeeding in leaving significant instances of technology on pedestals for posterity. I believe our great history, great monuments to technology should correspond. Many species that were invented in Russia and then would not argue about priority now.
    1. Cat
      Cat 30 December 2017 19: 46
      I join your words!
      The oldest icebreaker in the world is Angara (in the eternal parking lot in Irkutsk). Launched in 1900.
      1. Cat
        Cat 30 December 2017 19: 51
        Another handsome man is Krasin (St. Petersburg).

        Alas, Litke went for scrap.
        The only thing I read about the article was the seditious thought "God forbid d-dunks encroach on the Volkhov!"
        1. serg.shishkov2015
          serg.shishkov2015 3 January 2018 09: 09
  3. Rostislav
    Rostislav 30 December 2017 14: 13
    The glorious path of a true hard worker.
  4. polkovnik manuch
    polkovnik manuch 30 December 2017 14: 43
    You read and wonder how we “blamed” everything imperial, tsarist, Soviet, but in fact it turns out that everything was done right and the ships were purchased good (dual-purpose), and they managed the profits managed by experienced captains, the country was not small. Thanks to the author! I did not give, like some, for the sake of shit-democrats, the history of the Russian fleet!
    1. Aviator_
      Aviator_ 30 December 2017 17: 20
      Keeping a monument ship afloat is an expensive pleasure. But this must be done.
      1. Cat
        Cat 30 December 2017 19: 28
        Quote: polkovnik manuch
        You read and wonder how we “blamed” everything imperial, tsarist, Soviet, but in fact it turns out that everything was done correctly and the ships were purchased good (dual-use), and they managed the profits managed by experienced captains not a little. Thanks to the author! I did not give, like some, for the sake of shit-democrats, the history of the Russian fleet!

        The first thing that surprised was the renaming of the ice cutter from the III International to Tsar's Admiral Litke!
        Quote: Aviator_
        Keeping a monument ship afloat is an expensive pleasure. But this must be done.

        Second, I support your words with all paws. From myself I’ll add as it should, not even to us, our children and grandchildren.
  5. Svarog51
    Svarog51 30 December 2017 15: 32
    I will make a small clarification. At my request, our colleague Yuri Alekseevich Vetrov with the nickname Veteran found and posted this material. Yuri Alekseevich - many thanks. good hi
    1. bouncyhunter
      bouncyhunter 30 December 2017 20: 00
      Sergey, I welcome you and join the words of gratitude to our mutual friend !!! soldier soldier soldier
      1. Veteran
        30 December 2017 23: 46
        Thank you friends! Touched by your words of gratitude. soldier drinks
        1. Svarog51
          Svarog51 1 January 2018 12: 01
          Yuri Alekseevich, I greet and wish you a Happy New Year! hi drinks
          And why now this form of the case is not used, since it has proven itself positively?
          1. Veteran
            2 January 2018 18: 31
            Happy New Year, Seryozha !!! hi
            Even before and during the 1 World War, experience and practice began to show that the shape of the icebreaker "Ermak" (the so-called Russian type) was the best form of the icebreaker hull for the Arctic seas, and therefore it became the prototype for building the Arctic icebreakers: " Krasina "in 1916, and already in Soviet times in 1935 - 41. a series of 4 icebreakers of the "I. Stalin" type, which were a further development of the Russian type icebreakers and intended to provide navigation around the NSR (they were actively used until the 1960 of the years). The lack of icebreakers in connection with the active development of navigation on the Arctic seas forced the use of all available icebreaking class vessels, but they did not always cope with the tasks.
            1. Svarog51
              Svarog51 2 January 2018 18: 58
              Yuri Alekseevich, hi Happy New Year to you too! good drinks
              But the ice cutter showed not bad qualities in piloting vessels along the SevMorPuti. Why was his experience rejected? Or are Russian-type icebreakers more versatile?
              1. Veteran
                2 January 2018 21: 06
                Seryozha, there was an unsuccessful experience with this idea of ​​an “icebreaker,” he was unsuitable for the role of the Arctic icebreakers, in any case, he lost a lot of ice permeability to Ermak-type icebreakers. The same "Svyatogor" - "Krasin" (with twice as much displacement) had a shaft power of approx. 10 thousand hp (at “Litke” 7 thousand), 3 propeller (“Litke” - 2) and could handle ice up to 2 m thick. In 1920, “Litke” was unable to break through to the icebreaking steamer that fell into ice captivity in the Kara Sea " Nightingale Budimirovich ", on board of which 4 people have drifted for 85 months already. And only Svyatogor “scratched” from England by Krasin could “break through” to the ship and save people.
                1. Svarog51
                  Svarog51 2 January 2018 22: 20
                  Yuri Alekseevich, well, since he works less efficiently in “heavy” ice, it means there will be less stressful tasks for him. Or does it just make no sense to make icebreakers with different types of hulls?
                  1. Veteran
                    2 January 2018 23: 00
                    Yes, of course, Seryozha, it makes no sense. Over the past years, they have developed optimal forms for Arctic icebreakers, and, in principle, their main improvement goes along the ways of increasing the power on the shafts and improving the maneuverability of the vessel. At other theaters, which have their own peculiarities of ice conditions, several other types of icebreakers are used, for example, there is a "Baltic type". But the ice cutters did not take root anywhere.
                    1. Svarog51
                      Svarog51 3 January 2018 16: 58
                      Yuri Alekseevich hi Well, I’ll say so figuratively - an icebreaker, this is a cleaver, and an icebreaker, this is an ax. If an icebreaker is not so relevant in the Arctic ice, will it be able to do jewelry work in the port? Neatly so someone to "cut off" from the pier. Well ma-a-alenky such an ice-cutter?
                      1. Veteran
                        3 January 2018 20: 15
                        That's just in the port water area, Seryozha, is best suited and maneuverable I. Muromets can do "jewelry work". And the ships do not freeze to moorings, sources of heat.
                    2. Svarog51
                      Svarog51 3 January 2018 20: 27
                      So I also noticed, Yuri Alekseevich, that the shape of the hull of the tugboat resembles an icebreaker very much, and the driving characteristics are similar. I can even boast, in the 78th I was entrusted with holding the helm of a tugboat that was transporting us across the Volga. This is my only "marine practice." Nevertheless, I was the helmsman, albeit for five minutes. Here.
                      1. Veteran
                        3 January 2018 23: 53
                        Well, this is a precious experience, Seryozha, although you never know when it can come in handy, but what if ... winked yes
                    3. Svarog51
                      Svarog51 3 January 2018 23: 59
                      although you never know when it can come in handy, what if ...

                      I have been using it for thirty years - I am the commander of the ship "Family", the wife of the navigator and reef at the same time. I follow my course, and the ship saved.
                      1. Veteran
                        4 January 2018 16: 17
                        Keep it up, commander! good And happy sailing in the ocean of life! yes
  6. Nemesis
    Nemesis 30 December 2017 20: 30
    Historic ship trying to break through to Chelyuskin
  7. LeonidL
    LeonidL 31 December 2017 02: 00
    Shame for the country to send for scrap or "needles" the historical pride of the fleet !!!! Such ships and vessels must be kept as a memory and edification for posterity!
    1. Cat
      Cat 1 January 2018 05: 25
      I agree!
      I didn’t squeak with anger over the column "deadlines for scrap" when I read the reference books. Blasphemy when almost a century old ships were scrapped in the 60-80 years of the last century. But even Peter the Great and the Kremlin could have saved. Oh sadness.
  8. serg.shishkov2015
    serg.shishkov2015 3 January 2018 09: 03
  9. Badger
    Badger 4 January 2018 12: 51
    great ship
  10. serg.shishkov2015
    serg.shishkov2015 18 January 2018 06: 19
    looked in the album brand-it is given as an icebreaker, and on the stern-silhouette of the Sh-2