In early August, 1933, Soviet steamship Chelyuskin set out on the 4,500-mile journey from Murmansk (a Russian port near Finland) to Vladivostok (a Russian port near China). Over 100 sailors and scientists were aboard. They aimed to prove that a non-icebreaker could traverse the Northern Sea Route in a single season.
On August 31, a baby girl was born on board to the wife of the Wrangel Island surveyor, Comrade Vassiliev. Because the ship was in the Kara Sea at the time, the baby was named Karina.
An entry in the log reads: “5.30, a female child born to the Vassilievs; latitude 750 46.5′ N., longitude 910 .06′ W.”
In December, the Chelyuskin became trapped in ice. It remained trapped for a couple of months until it was finally crushed in February of 1934. The passengers had time to disembark, taking food and supplies, before the ship sank. They set up camp on an ice floe. Rescue planes arrived several weeks later.
The wreck was finally discovered in October of 2006 off the coast of Chukotka (a peninsula near Alaska). In early 2007, a gathering was held in Moscow to celebrate the discovery. In attendance were the two remaining Chelyuskin survivors, one of whom was Karina.
- Halpin, Tony. “Found: the ice ship that inspired a nation.” Times [London] 15 Feb. 2007.
- Members of the Expedition. The Voyage of the Chelyuskin. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1935.
- “Rescue of 109 from Ice Floe in Planes Told.” Pittsburgh Press 11 May 1934: 72.
- Rodgers, James. “Historic Soviet shipwreck ‘found’.” BBC News 21 Sept. 2006.
(Wondering what the most popular baby names in Vladivostok happen to be?)