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    Re: Polar Possessions of the SU. was: Lunars with SNO-T
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2004 Oct 25, 12:59 +0100

    Alex Eremenko provided the following information, which intrigued me.
    > ... they were always interested in convoys, led by icebreakers,
    >through the Northern Sea Way. They had the largest icebreakers
    >fleet in the world, including several nuclear-powered ones.
    >It was impossible to make the whole passage
    >in "one navigation", that is in one summer.
    >The ships of a convoy had to stop and spend winter somewhere,
    >frozen into ice. Only once they claimed a "world record",
    >when an icebreaker made it in one summer.
    Quite amazing! That implied four years (or perhaps three was possible?) for
    the round-trip. Even with a nuclear ice-breaker to lead the convoy. And
    presumably every ship in the convoy would have to be suitably
    ice-strengthened for overwintering.
    Presumably it's only a merchant convoy that had to take two winters, and an
    icebreaker carrying sufficient fuel could make it alone in one. At least
    that's what I read in the "Voyage of the Chelyuskin", translated by Alec
    Brown, (Chatto and Windus 1935), who refers to the first one-season
    passage, as far back as 1933, of the icebreaker Sibiryakov, Eastbound. He
    wrote "It was not an easy success. The ship lost her screw and made the
    final part of the trip under canvas." That's an image to conjure with, the
    thought of an icebreaker under sail...
    Nordenskjold had been the first to make the through passage, overwintering,
    in 1878-9.
    Chelyuskin, in 1934 was not an icebreaker, but a highly-powered
    merchantman, somewhat strengthened but not enough. She had not intended to
    overwinter, but was caught in the ice near Wrangel Islandd, than sank
    before she could be freed in the spring. Complete disaster, but treated as
    a Soviet triumph in terms of the rescue of the participants.
    I would like to learn more about the modern Northern sea-route. Is there a
    recommended publication in English? Does it still operate? How big are the
    convoys? Where do the ships  over-winter?
    contact George Huxtable by email at george@huxtable.u-net.com, by phone at
    01865 820222 (from outside UK, +44 1865 820222), or by mail at 1 Sandy
    Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.

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