How the Soviet expedition created the world's first polar drifting station on an ice floe

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Papanin is cooking dinner

The nutritional requirements of the polar explorers were quite strict – each day the diet of each should consist of food with a calorific value of up to 7000 kcal. At the same time, the food had to be not only nutritious, but also contain a significant amount of vitamins – mainly vitamin C. Concentrated soup mixtures were specially developed to feed the expedition – a kind of present bouillon cubes, only more useful and rich. One pack of such a mixture was enough to cook a good soup for four members of the expedition. In addition to soups, porridge and stewed fruit could be prepared from such mixtures. Even cutlets were prepared in dry form for the expedition – in all, about 40 types of instant concentrates were developed – all that was needed was boiling water, and all the food was ready in 2-5 minutes.

In addition to the usual dishes, completely new products with an interesting taste appeared in the diet of polar explorers: in particular, crackers, 23 percent meat, and “brackish chocolate mixed with meat and chicken powder”. In addition to concentrates, the Papanins had butter, cheese, and even sausage in their diets. Also, the expedition members were provided with vitamin pills and sweets.

All the dishes were made on the principle that one item went into another to save space. This subsequently began to be used by manufacturers of dishes not only expeditionary, but also ordinary household.

Almost immediately after landing on the ice, work began. Peter Shirshov carried out depth measurements, took soil samples, water samples at different depths, determined its temperature, salinity, and oxygen content in it. All samples were immediately processed in the field laboratory. Evgeny Fedorov was responsible for meteorological observations. Measured atmospheric pressure, temperature, relative humidity, wind direction and speed. All information on the radio was transmitted to the island of Rudolph. These communication sessions were carried out 4 times a day.

To communicate with the ground, the central radio laboratory in Leningrad manufactured two radio stations by special order – a powerful 80-watt and a 20-watt emergency one. The main power source for them was a windmill (in addition to it there was a hand-driven engine). All this equipment (its total weight was about 0.5 tons) was manufactured under the personal supervision of Krenkel and the guidance of radio technician N.N. Stromilova.

Difficulties began in January 1938. The ice floe drifted south and fell into bad weather. A crack appeared on it, and its size was rapidly decreasing. However, the polar explorers tried to maintain a calm mind and observed the usual regime of the day.

“In a tent, our glorious old residential tent, a kettle was boiling, dinner was being prepared. Suddenly, in the midst of pleasant preparations, there was a sharp jolt and a creaking rustle. It seemed that somewhere nearby they were tearing silk or cloth, ”Krenkel recalled how the ice cracked.

“Dmitrich (Ivan Papanin) could not sleep. He smoked (the first sign of excitement) and was busy with household chores. Sometimes he looked longingly at the speaker suspended from the ceiling. At jerks, the loudspeaker rocked slightly and rattled. In the morning, Papanin offered to fight chess. They played thoughtfully, calmly, with full awareness of the importance of the work being done. And suddenly, through the roar of the wind, an unusual noise erupted again. The ice floe shuddered convulsively. Nevertheless, we decided not to stop the game, ”he wrote about the moment when the ice floe cracked under the tent itself.

Krenkel then rather routinely broadcast Papanin's message on the radio: “As a result of a six-day storm at 8 a.m. on February 1, the field in the station area was torn by cracks from half a kilometer to five. We are located on a fragment of a field 300 meters long and 200 meters wide (the initial size of the ice floe was approximately 2 by 5 kilometers). Two bases were cut off, as well as a technical warehouse with secondary property. From the fuel and utility depots, everything of value has been saved. There was a crack under the living tent. We will move to a snow house. The coordinates will be announced later today; in the event of a loss of communication, please do not worry. ”

The Taimyr and Murman ships have already advanced to the polar explorers, however, it was not easy to get to the station due to the difficult ice situation. The planes also could not take the polar explorers from the ice – the site for landing on ice was destroyed, and one plane sent from the ship itself was lost, and a rescue expedition was created to search for it. The ships were able to break through to the station only when wormwood formed, they received significant damage in the ice in the way.

On February 19 at 13 hours 40 minutes “Murman” and “Taimyr” moored to the ice field 1.5 kilometers from the polar station. They took on board all the expedition members and their equipment. The last message of the expedition was this: “… At this hour, we leave the ice floe at coordinates 70 degrees 54 minutes north, 19 degrees 48 minutes West and having covered more than 2,500 km in 274 days of drift. Our radio station was the first to report the news of the conquest of the North Pole, provided reliable communication with the Motherland and this telegram is completing its work. ” On February 21, the papanins switched to the Yermak icebreaker, which delivered them to Leningrad on March 16.

The scientific results obtained in a unique drift were presented to the General Meeting of the USSR Academy of Sciences on March 6, 1938 and were highly appreciated by specialists. All members of the expedition were awarded degrees and titles of Heroes of the Soviet Union. Also this title was awarded to pilots – A.D. Alekseev, P.G. Golovin, I.P. Mazuruku and M.I. Shevelev.

Thanks to this first expedition, the following became possible – in the 1950s the North Pole 2 expedition followed, and soon such wintering became permanent. In 2015, the last expedition “North Pole” took place.

See also: “Take your sandwich from the South Pole”: the epic answer of the 16-year-old conqueror of the Antarctic to the offensive comment of the troll

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Text: Elena Koroleva / source

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