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Anniversary of the expedition of “Taimyr” and “Vaigach” icebreakers. Discovery of Severnaya Zemlya

4 September 1913

22 August (4 September), 1913 the expedition of icebreakers Taimyr and Vaigach led by Boris A. Vilkitsky discovered Land of Nicholas II (Severnaya Zemlya) and the island of Tsarevich Alexei (Maly Taimyr).

Hydrographic Expedition of the Arctic Ocean (GESLO) was established in Vladivostok in August 1910. It included two ice-breaking type of transport, specially constructed for this purpose on Nevsky plant in St. Petersburg in 1909 - Taimyr and Vaigach with displacement of 1500 tons each, and power machinery of 1200 hp. Experienced hydrograph Ivan S. Sergeev was appointed the head of the expedition.

The main purpose of the expedition was to explore the Northern Sea Route and go on it through six Arctic seas from east to west - from Vladivostok to Arkhangelsk, which primarily nobody had ever done. However, the expedition had other objectives as well such as to conduct hydrographic and meteorological studies, research and mapping of the Arctic coast of the Russian Empire.

In October 1909 the ships set out and arrived to Vladivostok in July next year. The research work started immediately. Taimyr and Vaigach went on their first campaign during the summer - autumn 1910 near the Cape Dezhnev. Heavy snowfall prevented the work and the expedition returned to Vladivostok.

In 1911 and 1912 the expedition explored the East Siberian and Chukchi Sea. In 1912, the Taimyr and Vaigach advanced to the west up to the Bay of Tiksi. Bear and the New Siberian Island as well as a part of the mainland coast were described.

During a campaign of 1913 Igor Sergeev fell seriously ill. The expedition was headed by Senior Lieutenant B. A. Vilkitsky, the commander of Taimyr.

The early morning of August 21 (September 3), 1913 at 78 ° 24 'north latitude, 106 ° 22' east longitude, the deck officers on two ships, made the same note in their logbooks almost simultaneously: "There is a land on the horizon." Icebreakers, passed along the shore of the land as far as the ice allowed. The visible part of it had been mapped.

22 August (4 September), 1913 on the Cape Berg (in latitude 80° North) the order of the Chief of the expedition on the discovery of new lands and their annexation to Russia was read aloud. The Russian flag was raised on the shore accompanied by volleys which marked that the discovered land was officially annexed to Russia.

17 (30) November, 1913 the Vladivostok newspaper “Distant suburbs” published a photograph of the crew of the expedition accompanied by the text stating that the expedition members themselves had identified the discovered land as a large island and wanted to name it Taivai in honor of the ships Taimyr and Vaigach. But in accordance with the Emperor’s order the land to the north of Cape Chelyuskin was to be named the "Land of Emperor Nicholas II "; the island lying north of the same cape was called the Island of Tsarevich Alexei and the island to the south-east of the island Bennett - "The Island of General Vilkitsky".

These names existed on maps of the country for over ten years and only on 11 September, 1926 the Central Executive Committee Presidium of USSR renamed the Land of Emperor Nicholas II into Severnaya Zemlya (the Northern Land), and the Island of Tsarevich Alexei - to the Maly (Little) Taimyr Island.

Lit.: Архипелаг, открытый последним (Северная Земля) [Электронный ресурс] // Великие люди и события нашей истории. Б. д. URL:; На Земле XX века // Белов М. И. По следам полярных экспедиций Ч. 2; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL:; Открытие Северной Земли [Электронный ресурс] // Северная Земля. 2008. URL:; Плавание ледокольных пароходов «Таймыр» и «Вайгач» и открытие Северной земли [Электронный ресурс] // История ВМФ России и Советского Союза. Б. д. URL:; Саватюгин Л. М., Шевнина Е. В. Северная Земля: 90 лет после открытия // Природа. 2003. № 11; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: