Expedition journals
SibSAU scientists to study historical traces of polar shipping along the Yenisei
© RIA Novosti. Aleksandr Kryazhev

SibSAU scientists to study historical traces of polar shipping along the Yenisei

In 2017, a team of scientists from the Siberian State Aerospace University (SibSAU) will undertake an ambitious project to identify and study historical evidence of polar shipping in the 18th-20th centuries in the Yenisei River mouth, the university's website announced.   

Scientists will use sonar equipment to study the waters of the Yenisei River mouth and Yenisei Gulf and attempt to locate shipwrecks related to the development of the Northern Sea Route.

"Among the sites of particular interest is the British vessel Roddam, which sank during a Ministry of Communications expedition in 1905," the site said. "Side-scan sonar will be used to study the British steam schooner Thames, which sank in 1877-1878, and was found in 2016."

In 2017, the scientists also plan to conduct a repeat survey of the area from Dudinka to Vorontsov and will complete an expedition to the settlement of Dikson. One of the main objectives is to identify the place where the crew of the clipper ship Severnoye Siyaniye wintered in 1876-1877 on the Brekhovsky Islands. Information on the sunken Russian polar vessel will shed light on the history of shipbuilding in the Yenisei area and provide details on the ships' technical features and construction technology.

"We are actively introducing inter-disciplinary approaches such as earth remote sensing, sonar, and various physical methods that will shed light on the history of ship production and specification," said project head Alexander Goncharov, Ph.D. in History and assistant professor at SibSAU. "These studies will help us eventually build a similar ship ourselves. In order to carry out a number of historical experiments, we have plans to rebuild the first Russian ship, the schooner Utrennyaya Zarya, which took the Northern Sea Route in 1877 from Yeniseisk to St. Petersburg," he said. 

In-depth archival work is currently underway as the scientists search for ship blueprints, technical specifications and construction processes. The studies will be used to build an exact replica of the ship by 2027, the 150th anniversary of the Utrennyaya Zarya's first voyage along the North Sea Route, with sponsorship from the Russian Geographical Society, and to repeat this historical experiment from Yeniseisk to St. Petersburg.

The expedition will also clarify the lower Yenisei's hydrography. The sunken vessels identified and the historical experiments carried out in shipping history, navigation and cartography will make it possible to open new routes along the north of Krasnoyarsk Territory and make the region more attractive for tourism.