Military Review

The fate of man and the ship

The fate of man and the shipPictured from left to right: Vladimir Wiese, Vladimir Alekseev-Zheleznyakov, Otto Schmidt, Vladimir Voronin. Yokohama, October 1932 of the year.

In the exposition of the Hall stories foreign intelligence dedicated to its activities in the prewar years, the attention of visitors is often attracted by the seemingly “non-profile” photograph dating back to October 1932. On the deck of the icebreaker steamer “Alexander Sibiryakov”, which arrived in the Japanese port of Yokohama, proudly look into the camera lens of two Soviet scientists - Professor Vladimir Yulievich Wiese and Academician Otto Yulievich Schmidt. Next to them is the famous Arctic explorer, the captain of the icebreaker Vladimir Ivanovich Voronin. Background: Consul General of the USSR in Japan, a prominent Soviet intelligence officer Vladimir Pavlovich Alekseev-Zheleznyakov. It was he who happened to be the first of the Soviet people to step on board the icebreaker in Yokohama after he completed the historical passage along the Northern Sea Route.

Over the course of several centuries, many courageous seafarers sought to open new sea routes that would connect Northern Europe with the Far East and Asia along the coast of northeastern regions of Russia. Navigators of England, Holland, Sweden and other countries of the Old World tried to put this idea into practice. After all, to get from Europe to the Far East or to Asia along the Russian coast of the Arctic Ocean - this means significantly reducing the transition time and its cost (fuel costs, fees for passing through the Suez Canal and other costs).

However, numerous foreign expeditions sent for reconnaissance either died or returned without reaching their cherished goal. In the struggle for the northeastern sea route, foreigners were always defeated. However, the Russian tsarist government did not show much interest in polar and far-eastern exploration.


But, as in any business that meets the vital interests of the fatherland, there were people in the country who were aware of the need to develop the northern regions and did not spare their strength and even personal funds for this. Such a person, in particular, was Alexander Mikhailovich Sibiryakov, a Russian gold producer who deeply understood the strategic importance for Russia of the Northern Sea Route. It is to him, our great compatriot, that we are obliged for this outstanding geographical discovery.

Alexander Sibiryakov belonged to one of the most ancient, richest and most influential families of Siberia. His father was a merchant 1-th guild, co-owner of distilleries, rich gold mines, Bodaibo railway, shipping company.

Alexander was born September 26 1849 in Irkutsk. He graduated from high school, then Polytechnic in Zurich. After the death of his father received a significant inheritance. But entrepreneurial activity was not the only goal for Sibiryakov. As he himself emphasized later, he was possessed by the idea of ​​developing Siberia by “improving communications, arranging roads and channels in it, and maritime relations with neighboring countries.” For almost half a century, Alexander Sibiryakov practically single-handedly financed international polar expeditions, building ships, ports, roads, firmly believing that regular northern navigation was both possible and beneficial for Russia. He himself made quite a few independent Arctic and taiga expeditions.

The ascetic activity of Alexander Sibiryakov on the development of the Arctic did not go unnoticed: in 1876, the Swedish polar explorers named the island at the mouth of the Yenisei by his name, and in 1914, the Russian government assigned him to the icebreaker ship assigned to Arkhangelsk.

Alexander Sibiryakov’s dream of mastering the Northern Sea Route came true only after the October Revolution. In 1932, by the decision of the Soviet government, an expedition led by O.Yu. was organized on the icebreaker "Alexander Sibiryakov". Schmidt For the first time in the history of the study of the Arctic, the Siberians of Siberia had to go through the Northern Sea Route from the White Sea to the Bering Sea in one navigation.


The expedition left Arkhangelsk 28 July 1932. The icebreaker under the command of Captain Voronin, the expedition leader Academician Schmidt and his deputy, Professor Wiese, rounded the Northern Land archipelago from the north and in August reached the Chukchi Sea. Here the expedition participants had to overcome considerable difficulties: areas of solid powerful ice, repairs afloat the propeller with the replacement of the cut ice floe. At the end of the route the propeller shaft was broken. The vessel was left without a screw - helpless, uncontrollable - and was completely at the mercy of winds, currents and ice. Then the crew lifted home-made sails, tailored from pieces of tarpaulin, old blankets and sheets. The icebreaker steamer acquired an absolutely fantastic view, but it came to life, started moving, "rushed" at a speed ... half a mile per hour and October 1, on the 66-day of the voyage, broke free at the very entrance to the Bering Strait. Here he was taken in tow by the fishing trawler "Ussuriets". Well, then in Yokohama a meeting of “Alexander Sibiryakov” took place, captured in a photograph.

The Northern Sea Route was first passed for one navigation. The task of the motherland was fulfilled with honor. Icebreaker "Alexander Sibiryakov" was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor. All the participants of this historic campaign received high state awards. The most important result of the expedition was also the creation in December 1932 of the General Directorate of the Northern Sea Route (Glavsevmorput) headed by Academician Otto Yulievich Schmidt.


A few words about the fate of the legendary Arctic explorer Alexander Mikhailovich Sibiryakov. It so happened that he was "buried" during his lifetime. The date of his death - 1893 year was marked in all encyclopedic dictionaries and later migrated to the Great Soviet Encyclopedia. But he lived after that date for as many 40 years.

The brave activity of the pioneer, which the fatherland could rightly be proud of, ended in a most unexpected and mysterious way at the end of the 19th century. Having collapsed, Sibiryakov found himself far away from his homeland, in complete obscurity and extreme need. He lived alone in Nice for a small pension, assigned to him by the Swedish Riksdag, because he was unselfishly subsidizing several Swedish polar expeditions when he was the largest patron of Russia in the field of Arctic research. This pension was a salvation for Sibiryakov, it extended his life. It is known that during the period of universal interest in the heroic navigation of the icebreaker "Alexander Sibiryakov" this lonely old man did not tell anyone of his entourage that he is the same famous Sibiryakov, whose name is the name of the steamer that made the historic voyage.

Alexander Mikhaylovich Sibiryakov 2 died on November 1933 of the year in the hospital of Pasteur in Nice. At the Russian cemetery of Kokad, on the outskirts of the city, only four people accompanied him on his last journey: the Swedish consul, the director of the travel bureau, Nordisk Voyage, the owner of the boarding house where he lived, and the correspondent of the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

Thus ended the life journey of an honorary citizen of Russia, a member of the scientific and literary societies of the city of Gothenburg, an honorary member of the Swedish Society of Anthropology and Geography, a knight of the Order of St. Vladimir 3 degree and a Silver Medal of the Russian Geographical Society, an honorary citizen of the cities of Irkutsk and Tomsk, a corresponding member of the Swedish Geographical Society Society of Navy Sailors, holder of the Order of the Polar Star, honorary member of the Tomsk University, honorary member of the German Society for the North-polar Expedition of the City of Bremen , gentleman of the French order "Palm Branch".


The fate of Alexander Sibiryakova was involuntarily divided by the icebreaker, which bore his name. Before the start of World War II, “Alexander Sibiryakov” worked in the Arctic as a cargo and supply vessel. In August 1941, he joined the icebreaking unit of the Belomorsk military flotilla. Exactly one year later, in August 1942, the Alexander Sibiryakov, only symbolically armed with small guns, accepted an unequal battle in the Kara Sea with the fascist cruiser Admiral Scheer and died, refusing to surrender.

Let us give some details about the feat of the Siberians, which were told by the historian Sergey Domoroschenov.

In the second half of July, 1942 from Vladivostok to the Kola Bay along the Northern Sea Route sent an expedition of special purpose (EON-18) consisting of the leader of “Baku” and two destroyers. On the way, several more ships and an icebreaker joined them.

The German command decided to intercept and destroy the caravan, for which the heavy cruiser “Admiral Scheer” and five support submarines were secretly sent to the Kara Sea. On the way, the cruiser was supposed to fire at the ports of Dixon and Anderma. This operation was code-named “Wunderland” (“Wonderland”). It began on August 10 1942, with submarines entering the given area of ​​the Kara Sea. The cruiser, which left the Norwegian port of Narvik, managed to secretly cross the Barents Sea and on August 20 enter the Kara Sea from the northern tip of Novaya Zemlya.

21 August from the "Admiral Scheer" found a caravan of vessels consisting of three icebreakers, eight transports and a tanker. However, due to heavy ice conditions, the German raider could not get close to the caravan at a distance of artillery shooting, and the caravan went to Vilkitsky Strait.

Winding, “Admiral Scheer” began searching for a passage through the ice fields to enter the caravan routes of Russian ships. In the afternoon of August 25, he met the icebreaking ship of the White Sea military flotilla "Alexander Sibiryakov", which was going from Dixon with equipment and personnel for a new polar station on Severnaya Zemlya.

Siberians immediately reported on Dickson the appearance of a German raider near Belukha Island. In turn, the Germans demanded to immediately stop the work of the radio, lower the flag and surrender, and fired a warning shot. In response, the Soviet sailors opened fire from their four low-powered guns. After the second salvo of “Sheer” on “Sibiryakov”, the barrels of gasoline were laid on the stern. The ship was in flames, but it continued to fire from all the guns.

After 20 minutes the burning ship slowly disappeared into the waters of the Kara Sea. 79 sailors and polar explorers died heroically in battle. But the secrets of Operation Wunderland no longer existed. Dixon already knew about the approach of the fascist raider. Not far, in the Vilkitsky Strait, the ships EON-18 stopped. "Alexander Sibiryakov," at the cost of his death, saved dozens of ships and hundreds of people from the danger that threatened them.

In 1965, the coordinates of the death of the icebreaker steamer "Alexander Sibiryakov" (76 degrees N, 91 degrees 31 minute E) were declared a place of military glory.
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  1. vlbelugin
    vlbelugin 27 February 2013 10: 30
    The words of M.Yu. Lermontov from his "Borodino" involuntarily come to mind:
    "Yes, there were people in our time, Not like the present tribe: Heroes are not you! They got a bad lot: Few returned from the field ..."
    Somewhat disagree with the author - The fate of Alexander Sibiryakova involuntarily shared and icebreaker. Alexander Sibiryakov died alone in a foreign land. And the icebreaker "Alexander Sibiryakov" died in a heroic battle with his crew.
    Eternal glory to the defenders of our Fatherland.