"We Have Come, Pole": 45 Years Ago, Icebreaker "Arktika" Was the First to Reach Earth’s Northernmost Point

Ледокол "Арктика". Фото: wikipedia.org

The North Pole, like a magnet, has always attracted explorers. Hiking, sea and air expeditions were sent to the "crown of the Earth", which ended tragically for many brave polar explorers. For a long time, the dream of getting to the intersection of all the earth's meridians, not by drifting, but by actively sailing, remained unfulfilled. The efficient crew of the Soviet nuclear icebreaker "Arktika" under the command of Captain Yuri Kuchiev was the first in the history of mankind, 45 years ago. On August 17, 1977, at 4 a.m. Moscow time, our compatriots reached the northernmost point of the planet. It was a fantastic victory for Russian science and technology.

The “Arktika” stayed at the Pole for 15 hours that day. The crew installed a ten-meter steel rod on the ice. The flagpole of the expedition of the legendary Georgy Sedov was attached to it, the flag of the Soviet Union was raised, and a memorial plaque with the coat of arms of the USSR and a capsule with the Constitution draft were left.

The icebreaker "Arktika", launched in December 1972, was a fantastic vessel for its time and had no competitors in terms of working capabilities and comfort. A record 75,000 horsepower main power plant was installed on it. It was 148 m long, 30 m wide, with a draft of 11 m. The height of the navigation bridge was 21 m. For the crew, which included a little more than 100 people, there were separate cabins, a dining room, a mess hall, lounges, a library, a swimming pool, two saunas, a gym, communal services and amenities, a medical unit with a dental unit and an operating room. The deck had a helicopter pad.

The historic trip to the Pole lasted about two weeks. On August 9, 1977, the icebreaker left Murmansk, on August 22 it returned to its native shores. During that time, the “Arktika” had traveled 3,852 nautical miles, including 1,200 miles, overcoming multi-year ice. In addition to the task of being the first to reach the North Pole in an active voyage, the crew, which included well-known scientists, performed many scientific and practical tasks that were of great importance for the development of the polar seas. The expedition clearly proved the possibility of year-round navigation along the shortest routes in the Arctic Ocean and of transit passage of the Northern Sea Route.

It is noteworthy that at the meeting, which was held at the northernmost point of the Earth by Soviet sailors and scientists, a banner was installed with the inscription: "We have come to you, Pole!" It specifically said "come", not "conquered".

"Man has no power over nature, sometimes he is powerless before the elements. He can hide, wait, adapt, but he is unable to subjugate them. It would be good if a person understood this and always remembered. The Minister of the Navy of the USSR, the head of the expedition Guzhenko Timofey Borisovich, years later said that there had been different options, including 'conquered'. But it had been deliberately changed. A wise decision was made,” Captain Alexander Barinov, who later commanded the “Arktika”, stressed in his diaries.


Фотография из архива ААНИИ/ https://t.me/aari_official

Alexander Zhirnov