The Russian Geographical Society continues to accept applications for the 2018 Award. In the meantime, we continue to tell you about the winners of the contest of the past.
"Person of the Year of the Russian Geographical Society" is a special nomination of the 2014 Award. Its winner was Konstantin Bogdanov, the chairman of the intelligence and diving club and head of the International Underwater and Search Expedition "Bowing to the ships of the Great Victory", the leader and organizer of the expedition devoted to the study of the legendary «Lefort» battleship.
Since 2005 Konstantin Bogdanov has been in charge of the expedition "Bowing to the ships of the Great Victory", which is engaged in the search for ships that sank during the Great Patriotic War. During this time, its participants managed to find 12 submarines. But the team's work does not end there: after finding a sunken ship, they search for the relatives of the crew members, and then erect memorial plates on the submarine to perpetuate the memory of the dead sailors and officers."Lefort" was discovered during one of such dives.
"We found the ship by accident, instead of the desired SHCH-320 submarine, but the three-masted three-deck linear ship was recognized immediately." Only eight ships of such kind were built, and for many years Lefort was a legend; no one knew how or why it disappeared ", said Konstantin Bogdanov.
The battleship Lefort is a domestic ship whose destruction was shrouded in conjectures and speculation. The ship was launched in 1835. It was the participant of numerous expeditions, practical voyages and sea battles, including the Crimean War of 1853-1856. The ship was destroyed not by an enemy shell, but by the elements. It sank on September 10, year 1857 in the waters of the Gulf of Finland during the transition to wintering from Reval (now Tallinn) to Kronstadt. The squally wind turned the ship to its left side, after which the ship capsized and disappeared underwater. In this tragedy, no one was saved - 826 people became the victim of the "Lefort" wreck: the commander of the ship, officers, sailors, women and children. The catastrophe, which I.K. Aivazovsky reflected in the picture «Shipwreck of Lefort», left a scar in the heart of a whole generation - the sea estate, the relatives of the deceased, their compatriots.This incident ranks ninth in the list of the most large-scale shipwrecks in the history of mankind that occurred in peacetime.
The search for the true cause of the loss of the ship generated controversy. According to the materials of the investigative commission, the ship sank almost instantly. Nevertheless, experts put forward other versions of this tragic event. For example, the incorrect placement of the cargo on board or insufficient filling of barrels with water. Having questioned eyewitnesses, the investigating commission could not come to the final version of the reason for what had happened.
The loss of the Lefort ship is one of those events, which, fortunately, happen very rarely, and the causes of which, unfortunately, despite all the energy of the investigators, remain unsolved," the conclusion on the shipwreck case says.
For a century and a half the place of the Lefort loss was unknown, and the causes of the catastrophe were inaccurate. Until May 4 2013, when the expedition members found a ship between the islands of Hogland and Bolshoy Tyuters. The studies, including dozens of dives to a depth of 70 meters, helped finally determine the causes of the ship loss and recreate those events.
"We found that there was one open cannon port on the left side, in the lower tier on the cannon deck and suggested that if it opened during a storm, then about a ton of water per second would flow through this hole. The ship, unfortunately, did not have any chance to survive, " said Konstantin Bogdanov.
Due to the great depth and peculiarities of the waters of the Gulf of Finland, the ship remained in excellent condition. Of the apparent damage Lefort has only broken mast and bowsprit, apparently destroyed during the sinking, and partially torn off the decorative shell of the ship's hull by fishing nets.
When the expedition team of Konstantin Bogdanov discovered the ship, it was decided not to lift it from the bottom. According to Konstantin, the ship was worthy not only to be found, but to be accessible to the public. Soon afterwards an idea appeared to create a virtual museum, which included the photo and video materials from the last haven of the ship. This gave the opportunity to millions of people although virtually, but to see the legendary ship.
"I am glad that with the support from the Russian Geographical Society, border services, the Ministry of Defense and personally State Duma deputy Nikolai Kovalyov, the project became possible, and Lefort could be seen by the public." Without this museum, it would be possible only to very few people because the ship lies at a depth of 70 meters, at a distance of 180 kilometers from St. Petersburg.The water temperature in these places is equal to two degrees Celsius, and around there is sheer darkness, " said Konstantin.
For the success of the Lefort expedition in 2014, Konstantin Bogdanov won the Russian Geographical Society Award. The award ceremony took place on December 9, 2016 in the State Kremlin Palace. Konstantin received the award from the hands of Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Russian Society of Information Technologies, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. The president emphasized that Bogdanov and his team were doing a very significant job.
The Russian Geographical Society Award is an award in the field of national geography, ecology, preservation and popularization of the natural and historical and cultural heritage of Russia. It is awarded every two years for projects and achievements successfully implemented - scientific research, outstanding expeditions, innovative ideas in the field of education, popular science films. For the first time the Prize was awarded in 2014.