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Valerian Albanov

Valerian Albanov

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Valerian Ivanovich Albanov (1881 - 1919) was a Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n navigator, best known for being one of only two survivors of the ill-fated Brusilov expedition
Georgy Brusilov
Georgy Lvovich Brusilov or Hryhoriy Brusylov was a Ukrainian Russian naval officer of the Imperial Russian Navy and an Arctic explorer...

 of 1912.

Biography


Albanov was born in 1881 in Voronezh
Voronezh
Voronezh is a city in southwestern Russia, the administrative center of Voronezh Oblast. It is located on both sides of the Voronezh River, away from where it flows into the Don. It is an operating center of the Southeastern Railway , as well as the center of the Don Highway...

 and was raised by his uncle in the city of Ufa
Ufa
-Demographics:Nationally, dominated by Russian , Bashkirs and Tatars . In addition, numerous are Ukrainians , Chuvash , Mari , Belarusians , Mordovians , Armenian , Germans , Jews , Azeris .-Government and administration:Local...

. At the age of seventeen he entered the Naval College at Saint Petersburg, from which he graduated in 1904. He served on board a number of ships before signing on as navigator aboard the Saint Anna
Svyataya Anna
The ship Svyataya Anna , named after Saint Anne, was the Philomel-class gunvessel HMS Newport launched in England in 1867. She was sold in 1881 and renamed Pandora II. She was purchased again in about 1890 and renamed Blencathra, taking part in expeditions to the north coast of Russia...

 under Georgy Brusilov
Georgy Brusilov
Georgy Lvovich Brusilov or Hryhoriy Brusylov was a Ukrainian Russian naval officer of the Imperial Russian Navy and an Arctic explorer...

 for an expedition intended to traverse the Northeast Passage
Northern Sea Route
The Northern Sea Route is a shipping lane officially defined by Russian legislation from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean specifically running along the Russian Arctic coast from Murmansk on the Barents Sea, along Siberia, to the Bering Strait and Far East. The entire route lies in Arctic...

 (a feat which had only been successfully performed once before, by the Finnish
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 explorer Nordenskiöld
Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld
Freiherr Nils Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld , also known as A. E. Nordenskioeld was a Finnish baron, geologist, mineralogist and arctic explorer of Finnish-Swedish origin. He was a member of the prominent Finland-Swedish Nordenskiöld family of scientists...

).
The expedition was ill-planned and ill-executed by Captain Brusilov, and the Saint Anna became locked in the polar ice
Sea ice
Sea ice is largely formed from seawater that freezes. Because the oceans consist of saltwater, this occurs below the freezing point of pure water, at about -1.8 °C ....

 of the Kara Sea
Kara Sea
The Kara Sea is part of the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia. It is separated from the Barents Sea to the west by the Kara Strait and Novaya Zemlya, and the Laptev Sea to the east by the Severnaya Zemlya....

 in October 1912. Supplies were abundant, so officers and crew prepared themselves for wintering, hoping to be freed in the following year's thaw.

However, during 1913 the sea remained completely frozen. By early 1914 the ship had drifted with the ice NW of Franz Josef Land
Franz Josef Land
Franz Josef Land, Franz Joseph Land, or Francis Joseph's Land is an archipelago located in the far north of Russia. It is found in the Arctic Ocean north of Novaya Zemlya and east of Svalbard, and is administered by Arkhangelsk Oblast. Franz Josef Land consists of 191 ice-covered islands with a...

 and did not seem likely to be freed that year either. Albanov, believing that their position was hopeless, requested permission from Captain Brusilov to be relieved from his duties as second-in-command in order to leave the ship and attempt to return to civilization on foot. Albanov's aim was to reach Hvidtenland
Belaya Zemlya
Belaya Zemlya is a group of three cold, glaciated islands. It is a geographical subgroup of Franz Josef Land, Russian Federation.Belaya Zemlya is separated from the main Franz Josef group by a broad strait known as Proliv Severo Vostochnyy....

, the northeastermost island group of Franz Josef Land
Franz Josef Land
Franz Josef Land, Franz Joseph Land, or Francis Joseph's Land is an archipelago located in the far north of Russia. It is found in the Arctic Ocean north of Novaya Zemlya and east of Svalbard, and is administered by Arkhangelsk Oblast. Franz Josef Land consists of 191 ice-covered islands with a...

. He used Fridtjof Nansen
Fridtjof Nansen
Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen was a Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. In his youth a champion skier and ice skater, he led the team that made the first crossing of the Greenland interior in 1888, and won international fame after reaching a...

's inaccurate map, full of dotted lines where the archipelago was still unexplored.

Thirteen other crewmen accompanied Albanov when he travelled south-westwards by ski
Ski
A ski is a long, flat device worn on the foot, usually attached through a boot, designed to help the wearer slide smoothly over snow. Originally intended as an aid to travel in snowy regions, they are now mainly used for recreational and sporting purposes...

, sledge, and kayak
Kayak
A kayak is a small, relatively narrow, human-powered boat primarily designed to be manually propelled by means of a double blade paddle.The traditional kayak has a covered deck and one or more cockpits, each seating one paddler...

. The progress was difficult because of the cracks in the ice, the numerous polynias and the abundance of ridges which made progress slow. After a long and gruesome ordeal, only Albanov and one crewman, Alexander Konrad
Alexander Konrad
Alexander Eduardovich Konrad was a Russian sailor. Along with Valerian Albanov, he was one of the only two survivors, and the only surviving sailor of the ill-fated Brusilov expedition.-Biography:...

, made it to Cape Flora in Franz Josef Land
Franz Josef Land
Franz Josef Land, Franz Joseph Land, or Francis Joseph's Land is an archipelago located in the far north of Russia. It is found in the Arctic Ocean north of Novaya Zemlya and east of Svalbard, and is administered by Arkhangelsk Oblast. Franz Josef Land consists of 191 ice-covered islands with a...

, where they knew that Fridtjof Nansen
Fridtjof Nansen
Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen was a Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. In his youth a champion skier and ice skater, he led the team that made the first crossing of the Greenland interior in 1888, and won international fame after reaching a...

 had left provisions and a hut in a previous expedition. Albanov and Konrad were rescued by timely arrival of the Saint Foka
Georgy Sedov
Georgy Yakovlevich Sedov was a Russian Arctic explorer.Born in the village of Krivaya Kosa of Taganrog district in a fisherman's family. In 1898, Sedov finished navigation courses in Rostov-on-Don and acquired the rank of long voyage navigator...

, while they were preparing for the winter.

Albanov was later convinced to write up his memoirs of his adventure, and they were first published in Saint Petersburg in 1917. Albanov returned to the sea, but died only a few years later. Accounts of his death vary, with some having him die of typhoid, and some reporting that he was killed in the explosion of a railway wagon carrying munitions in Achinsk
Achinsk
Achinsk is a city in Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia, located on the right bank of the Chulym River near its intersection with the Trans-Siberian Railway, west of Krasnoyarsk. Area: . Population:...

, Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

.

Posthumous honors


The data about the drift of the St. Anna on the pack ice of the Kara Sea
Kara Sea
The Kara Sea is part of the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia. It is separated from the Barents Sea to the west by the Kara Strait and Novaya Zemlya, and the Laptev Sea to the east by the Severnaya Zemlya....

 supplied by Albanov were carefully studied in 1924 by Soviet oceanographer V. Yu. Vize
Vladimir Wiese
Professor Vladimir Yulyevich Vize , was a Russian scientist of German descent who devoted his life to the study of the Arctic ice pack...

. He detected an odd deviation of the path of the ship's drift caused by certain variations of the patterns of sea and ice currents. Professor Vize deemed that the deviation was caused by the presence of an undiscovered island whose coordinates he was able to calculate with precision thanks to Albanov's data. This island was later discovered and named Vize Island
Vize Island
Vize Island or Wiese Island is an isolated island located in the Arctic Ocean at the northern end of the Kara Sea, roughly midway between Franz Josef Land and Severnaya Zemlya, its latitude is 79° 30' N and its longitude 76° 54' E...

.

In 1975, Arctic expert William Barr
William Barr (Arctic historian)
William Barr is a Scottish historian now resident of Calgary, Canada, with a specific interest in the history of exploration of the Arctic, and to a lesser degree, the Antarctic. He holds degrees in Geography from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland and McGill University, Québec, Canada...

 wrote, "The name of Valerian Ivanovich Albanov must be ranked among those of the immortals of polar exploration."

A glacier in October Revolution Island
October Revolution Island
October Revolution Island is the largest island of the Severnaya Zemlya group in the Russian Arctic....

, in the Severnaya Zemlya
Severnaya Zemlya
Severnaya Zemlya is an archipelago in the Russian high Arctic at around . It is located off mainland Siberia's Taymyr Peninsula across the Vilkitsky Strait...

group has been named after Valerian Albanov.

A Russian expedition in September 2010, following the route of the crew members left behind, found some remainders of them: a human skeleton, a watch, snowshoes, a knife, a spoon with a sailor's initials, and sunglasses made from empty rum bottles' glass.

External links

  • Valerian Albanov. In the Land of White Death
  • William Barr. 'The First Tourist Cruise in the Soviet Arctic'.