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

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. 
The Little Golden Calf

The Little Golden Calf

Our edition of The Little Golden Calf, one of the greatest Russian satires ever, is the first new translation of this classic novel in nearly fifty years. It is also the first unabridged, uncensored English translation ever, and is 100% true to the original 1931 serial publication in the Russian journal 30 Dnei. Anne O. Fisher’s translation is copiously annotated, and includes an introduction by Alexandra Ilf, the daughter of one of the book’s two co-authors.
The Samovar Murders

The Samovar Murders

The murder of a poet is always more than a murder. When a famous writer is brutally stabbed on the campus of Moscow’s Lumumba University, the son of a recently deposed African president confesses, and the case assumes political implications that no one wants any part of.
The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

The fables of Ivan Krylov are rich fonts of Russian cultural wisdom and experience – reading and understanding them is vital to grasping the Russian worldview. This new edition of 62 of Krylov’s tales presents them side-by-side in English and Russian. The wonderfully lyrical translations by Lydia Razran Stone are accompanied by original, whimsical color illustrations by Katya Korobkina.
Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

This astonishingly gripping autobiography by the founder of the Russian Women’s Death Battallion in World War I is an eye-opening documentary of life before, during and after the Bolshevik Revolution.
Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

The Life Stories collection is a nice introduction to contemporary Russian fiction: many of the 19 authors featured here have won major Russian literary prizes and/or become bestsellers. These are life-affirming stories of love, family, hope, rebirth, mystery and imagination, masterfully translated by some of the best Russian-English translators working today. The selections reassert the power of Russian literature to affect readers of all cultures in profound and lasting ways. Best of all, 100% of the profits from the sale of this book are going to benefit Russian hospice—not-for-profit care for fellow human beings who are nearing the end of their own life stories.
Fish: A History of One Migration

Fish: A History of One Migration

This mesmerizing novel from one of Russia’s most important modern authors traces the life journey of a selfless Russian everywoman. In the wake of the Soviet breakup, inexorable forces drag Vera across the breadth of the Russian empire. Facing a relentless onslaught of human and social trials, she swims against the current of life, countering adversity and pain with compassion and hope, in many ways personifying Mother Russia’s torment and resilience amid the Soviet disintegration.
Driving Down Russia's Spine

Driving Down Russia's Spine

The story of the epic Spine of Russia trip, intertwining fascinating subject profiles with digressions into historical and cultural themes relevant to understanding modern Russia. 
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.
93 Untranslatable Russian Words

93 Untranslatable Russian Words

Every language has concepts, ideas, words and idioms that are nearly impossible to translate into another language. This book looks at nearly 100 such Russian words and offers paths to their understanding and translation by way of examples from literature and everyday life. Difficult to translate words and concepts are introduced with dictionary definitions, then elucidated with citations from literature, speech and prose, helping the student of Russian comprehend the word/concept in context.
The Moscow Eccentric

The Moscow Eccentric

Advance reviewers are calling this new translation "a coup" and "a remarkable achievement." This rediscovered gem of a novel by one of Russia's finest writers explores some of the thorniest issues of the early twentieth century.

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.

Our Contacts

Russian Life
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567

800-639-4301
802-223-4955