The participants of the Complex Expedition of the RGS and the Russian Defense Ministry to the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago make adjustments to navigation maps and explore Ushakov Island.
The hydrographic vessel "Romuald Muklevich" approached Ushakov Island.
This small, completely ice-covered island with an area of 328 sq. km is located between the archipelagos of Severnaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land, in the northern part of the Kara Sea in the Arctic Ocean.
It was discovered in 1935 by the First High-latitude Expedition of the Glavsermorput under the leadership of Georgy Ushakov and named in his honor. Since 1954, one of the most inaccessible polar stations in the USSR was located on the island. It was closed in 1992.
First, a shallow draft boat was launched. The expedition members measured the depths and determined where the “Romuald Muklevich” would be able to safely approach the shore.
“Our research around the island has shown that at the place where the glacier was previously marked, the sea is currently splashing with a depth of up to 15-17 meters," says Leonid Kruglov, a participant of the expedition, documentary filmmaker and traveler. “In theory, we were supposed to be on the edge of the ice dome, but we ended up about half a kilometer away from it – it has shrunk so much around the perimeter. Unfortunately, all the buildings of the polar station collapsed together with the glacier. During the exploration of the island, we found a fjord not marked on the maps, extending for a kilometer into the heart of the ice dome. We were able to enter it, conduct research and measurements. The fjord is very beautiful, there are many walruses there. Hydrographers believe that it should be constantly monitored. If the fjord does not collapse for a long time, the status of a new geographical object will be assigned to it.”
Despite the difficult ice conditions in the Laptev Sea and the Kara Sea, hydrographers are surveying the bottom relief in poorly explored areas of the Arctic archipelagos. Scientists collect information to clarify and update the data of current navigation maps. They measure depths, in particular, specify those that were mapped in the years when measurements were carried out by less accurate methods.
The joint expedition of the RGS and the Russian Defense Ministry to the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago was organized as part of one of the stages of the “Remember the War” expedition.
The researchers are looking for ships sunk during the Great Patriotic War. In the Laptev Sea, the experts examined a section of the bottom, on which, according to one version, there is an expedition vessel "Hercules", which disappeared at the beginning of the 20th century. On it, Vladimir Rusanov planned to reach the Bering Strait. Alas, what the search specialists took for a legendary ship turned out to be an uneven bottom.
The expedition members were unable to land on Severnaya Zemlya in the planned places associated with its discoverers, researchers Nikolai Urvantsev and Georgy Ushakov, as the straits of Severnaya Zemlya were clogged with ice fields and clusters of icebergs.
“We observe a large concentration of ice fields around,” Leonid Kruglov shares. “Basically, it is the so-called pancake ice, and we see how a new ice field is formed, which will soon turn into fast ice.”
To date, the expedition has covered 6,000 km; a detailed survey of 250 sq. km of the bottom relief has been carried out. The measurement of other ocean parameters continues. The “Romuald Muklevich” departed from Ushakov Island and is heading for the Franz Josef Land archipelago.