Polar Explorer's Day To Be Celebrated In Russia For The 10th Time

Герои дрейфующей станции "Северный полюс — 1". Кадр из кинофильма "Папанинцы" (1938 год)

On May 21, Russia will celebrate for the 10th time the professional holiday of intrepid explorers of the high latitudes of the planet. On Polar Explorer’s Day, we remember the glorious deeds of the pioneers of the past, who expanded the boundaries of the inhabited world and brought fame to their homeland. We congratulate veterans and modern heroes, selfless workers, courageous conquerors of the ice expanses, sailors and pilots, scientists and builders, doctors and communications officers, geologists and geographers, representatives of all professions whose life and work is connected with the Arctic and Antarctica.

Polar Explorer's Day was established by the decree of the president of the Russian Federation in 2013. The initiative to establish this professional holiday was taken by the first vice-president of the Russian Geographical Society, member of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Artur Chilingarov.

The Russian history of Arctic exploration began about 400 years ago, at a time when our ancestors went out into the restless waters of the Frigid Sea on small wooden ships. The whole world knows the names of Semyon Dezhnev, Vitus Bering, Khariton Laptev, Semyon Chelyuskin, and many other brave travelers of the past. Now their descendants continue their work. They have at their disposal the most modern nuclear icebreakers and special research vessels, all-weather aviation and the most accurate instruments, the latest achievements of science and technology. But the main assets of a real polar explorer are still personal courage, loyalty to duty, and the pursuit of goals.

A significant date in the national history was chosen to celebrate Polar Explorer's Day. On May 21, 1937, an ANT-6 aircraft under the control of pilot Mikhail Vodopyanov landed on an ice floe near the North Pole. The members of the first Soviet drifting polar station were on board the winged machine.


Руководитель и пилоты самолётов экспедиции "Северный полюс — 1" (слева направо): И. Т. Спирин, М. И. Шевелёв, М. С. Бабушкин, О. Ю. Шмидт, М. В. Водопьянов, А. Д. Алексеев, В. С. Молоков. Фото: wikipedia.org

The unprecedented drift of the four polar explorers – Ivan Papanin, Peter Shirshov, Ernst Krenkel, and Evgeny Fedorov – lasted 274 days. During this time, the ice floe has passed more than 2,000km. In extremely difficult conditions, risking their lives every day, fighting cold and storms, flooding and ice destruction, the Soviet researchers were the first in the world to collect unique scientific material. For their feat, the Papanins and the pilots who delivered the expedition to the ice floe were awarded the high title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

The expedition "North Pole – 1" was the first in the program of the Soviet drifting polar stations. Since then, they have been conducting year-round research in the field of oceanology, ice dynamics, meteorology, geophysics, hydrochemistry and hydrophysics, biology and other sciences almost without interruptions. On average, about 600 ocean depth measurements, almost 4,000 weather observations, up to 1,300 temperature measurements and seawater sampling for analysis were carried out on the ice floe per year, more than 600 weather balloons were launched. However, in 2013, the project of drifting stations had to be suspended due to changes in ice conditions. The program resumed after the construction of a unique research vessel – the ice-resistant self-propelled platform "North Pole".

In 2022, on Polar Explorer's Day, the “North Pole” platform was first launched from the Admiralty Shipyards for sea trials. Last autumn, a new expedition was launched, which received its own unique serial number – "North Pole – 41".


Экспедиция "Северный полюс — 41". Фото: Александр Зубков / ААНИИ

“Today our institute continues fundamental and applied research of the polar regions of the Earth and organizes almost all the largest Russian high-latitude expeditions. The Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute continues the traditions of generations of brave and courageous polar explorers, exploring their experience, bringing the most modern designs and technologies to the development of high latitudes, which are in the focus of attention of the world community,” said Aleksandr Makarov, director of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.

The new vessel has significantly improved the life of polar explorers, although the main research, as 86 years ago, is carried out on ice. However, after hard work, they will find almost home comfort: comfortable cabins, dining rooms, a gym, a modern medical center, and many other benefits of civilization.

Now the expedition "North Pole – 41" has gone above 87°N. The proposed drift route passes through the polar region to the Greenland Sea. After leaving the Fram Strait, the “North Pole” research vessel should return to Murmansk using its own power.

On the eve of Polar Explorer's Day, the Russian Geographical Society opened a commemorative plaque in honor of one of the heroes of the drift of the “North Pole – 1” station, Evgeny Fedorov. The memorial plaque is installed on the front of a residential building on Leninsky Prospekt in Moscow.