Expedition into the high latitudes in order to transfer of the employees of the ‘North Pole 1’ station began

22 March 1937

The problems relating to agriculture development of the arctic coast of our country and the Northern sea way required a reliable forecast system that would provide the information on meteorological and ice conditions in the Arctic Ocean. In the middle of 1930s it became clear that the polar stations situated near the mainland could not be the only sources for this kind of information. The Head of the Chief Directorate of the Northern Sea Route academician O. Yu. Schmidt suggested to organize a permanent polar station near the North Pole which would conduct a wide range of meteorological and hydrological researches within a year.

In February of 1936 the project of an expedition to the North Pole was approved by the USSR government and during the year a complex preparatory work had been completed. In order to transfer the polar explorers there was organized the expedition into the high latitudes named ‘The North’.

On 22 March, 1937 four aircrafts ANT-6 with the expedition members and cargo on board departed from Moscow to Naryan-Mar heading then for the New Land, the island of Rudolf and finally the North Pole. The expedition was led by O. Yu Schmidt, the head of the flight detachment was M. V. Vodopyanov, the Head of drift station ‘The North Pole’ was I. D. Papanin, the station employees were represented by the experienced polar explorers and researchers P. P. Shirshov, E. K. Fedorov, radio operator E. T. Krenkel.

Due to the complicated weather conditions the expedition reached the base on Rudolf Island only in a month. The start for the Pole was projected when a favorable weather would establish.

Only on 21st May flag plane of the expedition managed to take off from Rudolf Island and land near the Pole. However the next planes were detained and the entire expedition unshipped on ice only on 5th June.

On 6th June 1937 over the North Pole was set the flag of USSR and officially established the first polar station in the world ‘SP 1’. The polar explorers had to conduct numerous experiments and researches during the long months of ice drift.

The station ‘North Pole 1’ gathered the unique scientific material for the time. For the first time in history the obtained material enabled to learn a lot about the nature of the North Pole and the processes taking place in the territory. Weather reports from the ‘SP 1’ station not only provided short-term forecasts but enabled to make important conclusions on the character of atmosphere processes in the center of the Arctic. For the first time were obtained the reliable experimental data on atmosphere and ocean factors in the central regions of the Arctic.

The ‘North Pole 1’ station opened a new era in the Arctic research and the data obtained owing to its observations was included in the gold reserve of science.

Lit.: Маслов М. Первые на Северном полюсе. Мир Авиации. 1999. № 4; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://www.polarpost.ru/Library/N-166/main-n166pole.html.

From the Presidential library materials:

Scientific expedition led by ID Papanin to the North Pole, 1937: [fragments of newsreels]. St. Petersburg, 2010;

Development of the Arctic: collection.