This is "Vaygach": the Story of the Search for the Legendary Steamer Brought to a Close

Ледокольный пароход "Вайгач". Фото: Научный архив РГО
Ледокольный пароход "Вайгач". Фото: Научный архив РГО

One of the important results of the expeditionary campaign of the Russian Geographical Society in the outgoing year was the identification and examination of the steamer “Vaygach”, which in 1914-1915 was the first to sail across the Northern Sea Route, but crashed three years later in the Yenisei Gulf.

In 1910-1915, under the leadership of Captain 2nd Rank Boris Vilkitsky, a hydrographic expedition in the Arctic Ocean took place on the “Vaygach” and “Taimyr” vessels. It became famous for the discovery of the Land of Nicholas II (now Severnaya Zemlya) and the passage from Arkhangelsk to Vladivostok.

At the end of the First World War, due to the difficult food situation in the northern regions of the European part of Russia, a project was launched to deliver food by the Northern Sea Route.

Since in terms of navigation this route was still poorly studied, simultaneously with the delivery of bread, it was necessary to organize a hydrographic expedition to explore the western part of the Arctic Ocean. That’s when "Vaygach" and "Taimyr" set sail again.

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В поисках парохода "Вайгач". Фото: Леонид Круглов
В поисках парохода "Вайгач". Фото: Леонид Круглов

In September 1918, after entering Dikson, the “Vaygach” crashed in the Yenisei Bay near Cape Efremov Kamen and sank. The reason for the wreckage of the ship was a rocky ledge, which was not indicated in any way on the maps. Now this place is known as the Vaygach Rock.

The story of the search for the legendary steamer began in the 1980s, but it was not successful. In the summer of 2020, the participants of the complex expedition "The Main Face of Russia. History, Events, People", organized by the Russian Geographical Society and the Northern Fleet, found an underwater object at a depth of 27 meters near Cape Efremov Kamen. The expedition historians suggested that it might be "Vaygach".

However, it was possible to identify it only this year during the complex expedition "Remember the War". It was organized by the Russian Geographical Society, the Northern Fleet and the marine engineering company “Fertoing”. Modern methods of organizing underwater work and the latest equipment have yielded results: the sunken ship has been thoroughly examined, and now we can say for sure that the story of the “Vaygach” steamer has come to an end.