Researchers set off on memorial expedition to Bely Island
© RIA Novosti. Valeriy Melnikov

Researchers set off on memorial expedition to Bely Island

A team of volunteer researchers in Salekhard has finished preparations for a memorial scientific expedition to Bely Island in the Kara Sea as part of the Kara Expedition-2015 project, the Arctic-Info news agency reports.

Ten researchers from Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Crimea, Murmansk and the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area will arrive at Bely Island on July 18 for a month-long expedition led by archaeologist and historian Alexander Shlyushinksy.

Their primary goal is to try to find the mass grave site of Soviet sailors from the BD-5 Arctic Convoy that sank during the Great Patriotic War. The supposed location of the burial site was determined by using archives and visual surveillance data collected by an UAV.

The team also plans to unearth a wooden boat — a kungas — that used to belong to one of the BD-5 ships. Once retrieved, the boat will be examined and photographed with a 3D camera. While on the island, researchers also hope to shoot a number of documentaries.

The White Sea — Dixon No. 5 (BD-5) Convoy left Severodvinsk on July 8, 1944. Sailing aboard the Marina Raskova large transport ship, besides its crew, were explorers travelling to their shift, the families of specialists working on Dixon, White Sea Flotilla servicemen, and civil employees of the Main Department of the Northern Sea Route. The ship was carrying more than 6,000 tons of food and technical cargo for the Kara Naval Base, the Nordvikstroy, and Arctic stations. In all, there were 752 people in the convoy.

On August 12, 1944, the convoy was attacked by a German U-365 submarine. As a result, 378 Soviet servicemen and civilians were killed. Several dozen people managed to escape in a wooden kungas boat. The fragments of the boat were found last year by volunteers who were cleaning Bely Island. After reaching the shore, the boat's passengers struggled for their lives for a few more days, but were unable to survive the harsh Arctic conditions.

Researchers claim that there is a mass grave and several other burial sites on Bely Island.