Saturday, September 23, 2006
Russian divers say they have found the wreck of a Soviet ship which sank attempting a historic journey along the Arctic coast in 1934. The Chelyuskin was trapped in ice as it tried to complete a voyage from Murmansk in north-western Russia to Vladivostok in the Pacific Ocean. It was supposed to show that a normal vessel - rather than an icebreaker - could complete the journey. More than 100 of the crew were rescued by pilots who were hailed as heroes.The Chelyuskin was supposed to make history. It did, but not for the reason that Soviet propagandists had had in mind. Russia's north coast is free of ice for only a few months in the summer. It makes delivering vital supplies to Arctic communities a huge challenge. As the Chelyuskin neared the end of its journey in December 1933, it became trapped in ice. It sank in February 1934. But a failure became a triumph after the rescue operation. After an unsuccessful attempt to find the Chelyuskin two years ago, divers say they have now located it. Artefacts from the wreck are to be sent to Denmark, where the ship was built, to confirm its identity.