Undersea Research Center

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The Undersea Research Center of the Russian Geographical Society was founded by the Russian Geographical Society and the National Center for Underwater Research in 2014. The organization unites representatives of various professions and industries: historians, archaeologists, divers, oceanographers and many others. Its purpose is to research events of the marine history and try to solve diverse secrets of nature.

The Undersea Research Center acquired its greatest fame in August 2015, when its specialists ensured the dive of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea to explore a centuries-old Byzantine wreck. However, research of ships lying on the bottom is not the only thing the center does. The center plans, for example, to open a museum of underwater archeology in Kronstadt, to design an inhabited underwater vehicle and fulfil other projects.


Passion for research

One of the most important areas of work of the Undersea Research Center is expeditions. For several years already, specialists of the center have been conducting archaeological research in the Baltic Sea.

In the summer of 2013, before the official foundation of the Center, the Russian Geographical Society together with the National Center for Underwater Research organized an expedition to survey the frigate "Oleg" that crashed between Hogland Island and Sommers Island in 1869. The reason for its destruction was collision with another vessel when performing complex maneuvers. During the expedition, a group of divers and archaeologists examined the ship, took photographs and raised a few artifacts from the bottom. According to experts, the frigate sunk more than 150 years ago and it is well-preserved. Everything from dishes and furniture to ship bells and cannons is extremely well preserved in Baltic waters.  Jul 15, 2013 President of Russia Vladimir Putin climbed into a three-seat submersible craft to examine the ship. He stressed the importance of such research to promote knowledge about the history of the Russian Fleet.

Since 2014, specialists of the Center have made archaeological research on the German merchant ship "Archangel Raphael" sunken in the Bay of Vyborg in 1724. They cleared the internal space of the ship, found a lot of artifacts of archaeological and value, some of them were raised to the surface. In particular, divers raised a well- preserved caftan from the bottom, and its restoration was subsequently carried out by specialists of the State Hermitage Museum.

Another object interesting for further study was found by underwater archaeologists of the Center in the Gulf of Finland near Kronstadt. It is not excluded that here the battleship "Portsmouth",  built according to the drawings of Peter I , one of the first battleships of the Russian Fleet, is lying at a depth of about 10 meters. It sank in 1719. Experts hope to find artifacts that will allow identifying the ship. It is planned to create its photomap and 3D-model.

The Undersea Research Center also takes part in international missions. One of them is the submarine "Som", discovered in 2015 in the territorial waters of Sweden. The Society is now in negotiations with the Scandinavian side aimed at discussing details of a joint expedition to explore the ship and at determining the fate of the Russian submarine which has been lying in Swedish waters for more than 100 years.

- In mid-October, we returned from Kabardino-Balkaria, where we examined Tserik-Kel, the deepest karst lake in Russia. The results of the expedition have yet to be summed up, but some facts I can tell now. In particular, data on the depth of the lake were updated. Previously, it was believed that it is equal to 258 meters, but we managed to find an underwater cave in the South-Eastern part of the lake, the depth of which was 279 meters. In addition, we designed a 3D model of the underwater part of the lake, took soil samples, and found out the chemical composition of water in the lake. We hope that the data will allow scientists to explain how lake Tserik-Kel was formed, and most importantly to understand how to preserve this unique natural object for future generations, said Executive Director of the Undersea Research Center Sergey Fokin.