May 24, 2021

Icebreaker Unearthed


Icebreaker Unearthed
An old-timey photograph of the Vaigach. Wikimedia Commons user MPowerDrive

The wrecked Russian icebreaker Vaygach – the first icebreaker to sail the elusive Northern Sea Route. – was recently found in Yeniseysky Gulf in Russia's Kara Sea.

A Russian Geographical Society and Northern Fleet joint expedition made the discovery with the help of an underwater drone. The ship has not been seen since the "Spanish" flu – it was lost in the Yeniseisky Gulf in 1918.

In its short, twenty-year career, the Vaygach discovered Severnaya Zemlya (in 1913) and charted the Eastern Siberian coast. Its first captain was Alexander Kolchak, a polar explorer whose achievements were covered up during Soviet times because he became the "supreme ruler" of an anti-Bolshevik government in Siberia (1918-1920).

The 60-meter steam icebreaker was built in 1909 in the Nevsky Shipyard in Shlisselburg, near St. Petersburg – where the Neva River empties into Lake Ladoga.

Check out the article to see a photograph of the Vaygach going down in 1918, with a surprisingly calm and photogenic crew posing for the camera.

You Might Also Like

Island of Tragic Beauty
  • November 01, 2007

Island of Tragic Beauty

Off the remote northeastern coast of Chukotka lies the severe outpost that is Wrangel Island. Home to polar bears, musk ox and ghosts of wily explorers, reachable only by ice breakers or dogsleds, the island has long been a source of fascination and mystery.
Northern Limits
  • July 01, 2012

Northern Limits

Over the past few years Russia has sought to extend its protection and dominion over the Arctic. But this is not a new pursuit. In fact, this year marks the centenary of several significant explorations of the Russia’s northern boundaries.
The View from Anadyr
  • May 01, 2014

The View from Anadyr

Russia’s renewed interest in the Northern Sea Route is enabled by global warming and mirrors efforts of a century ago.
Moskvarium: Making a Splash at VDNKh
  • January 30, 2021

Moskvarium: Making a Splash at VDNKh

One of the newest VDNKh pavilions is Russia's most dramatic oceanarium, embracing captive orcas even as other countries begin to abandon the practice.
Whatever Floats Russia's Boats
  • January 28, 2021

Whatever Floats Russia's Boats

It’s plain sailing for the Russian Federation along the Northern Sea Route, thanks to melting ice caps.
Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

Fearful Majesty

Fearful Majesty

This acclaimed biography of one of Russia’s most important and tyrannical rulers is not only a rich, readable biography, it is also surprisingly timely, revealing how many of the issues Russia faces today have their roots in Ivan’s reign.
A Taste of Russia

A Taste of Russia

The definitive modern cookbook on Russian cuisine has been totally updated and redesigned in a 30th Anniversary Edition. Layering superbly researched recipes with informative essays on the dishes' rich historical and cultural context, A Taste of Russia includes over 200 recipes on everything from borshch to blini, from Salmon Coulibiac to Beef Stew with Rum, from Marinated Mushrooms to Walnut-honey Filled Pies. A Taste of Russia shows off the best that Russian cooking has to offer. Full of great quotes from Russian literature about Russian food and designed in a convenient wide format that stays open during use.
Woe From Wit (bilingual)

Woe From Wit (bilingual)

One of the most famous works of Russian literature, the four-act comedy in verse Woe from Wit skewers staid, nineteenth century Russian society, and it positively teems with “winged phrases” that are essential colloquialisms for students of Russian and Russian culture.
At the Circus

At the Circus

This wonderful novella by Alexander Kuprin tells the story of the wrestler Arbuzov and his battle against a renowned American wrestler. Rich in detail and characterization, At the Circus brims with excitement and life. You can smell the sawdust in the big top, see the vivid and colorful characters, sense the tension build as Arbuzov readies to face off against the American.
The Best of Russian Life

The Best of Russian Life

We culled through 15 years of Russian Life to select readers’ and editors’ favorite stories and biographies for inclusion in a special two-volume collection. Totalling over 1100 pages, these two volumes encompass some of the best writing we have published over the last two decades, and include the most timeless stories and biographies – those that can be read again and again.
A Taste of Chekhov

A Taste of Chekhov

This compact volume is an introduction to the works of Chekhov the master storyteller, via nine stories spanning the last twenty years of his life.
Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

A book that dares to explore the humanity of priests and pilgrims, saints and sinners, Faith & Humor has been both a runaway bestseller in Russia and the focus of heated controversy – as often happens when a thoughtful writer takes on sacred cows. The stories, aphorisms, anecdotes, dialogues and adventures in this volume comprise an encyclopedia of modern Russian Orthodoxy, and thereby of Russian life.
Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar is a hilarious and insightful memoir by a diplomat who was “present at the creation” of US-Soviet relations. Charles Thayer headed off to Russia in 1933, calculating that if he could just learn Russian and be on the spot when the US and USSR established relations, he could make himself indispensable and start a career in the foreign service. Remarkably, he pulled it of.
The Latchkey Murders

The Latchkey Murders

Senior Lieutenant Pavel Matyushkin is back on the case in this prequel to the popular mystery Murder at the Dacha, in which a serial killer is on the loose in Khrushchev’s Moscow...
Moscow and Muscovites

Moscow and Muscovites

Vladimir Gilyarovsky's classic portrait of the Russian capital is one of Russians’ most beloved books. Yet it has never before been translated into English. Until now! It is a spectactular verbal pastiche: conversation, from gutter gibberish to the drawing room; oratory, from illiterates to aristocrats; prose, from boilerplate to Tolstoy; poetry, from earthy humor to Pushkin. 
White Magic

White Magic

The thirteen tales in this volume – all written by Russian émigrés, writers who fled their native country in the early twentieth century – contain a fair dose of magic and mysticism, of terror and the supernatural. There are Petersburg revenants, grief-stricken avengers, Lithuanian vampires, flying skeletons, murders and duels, and even a ghostly Edgar Allen Poe.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567

802-223-4955