Baby born aboard Soviet steamship in Kara Sea, named Karina

The Soviet steamship Chelyuskin, trapped in ice (1933)
The Chelyuskin, trapped in ice (1933)

In early August, 1933, the Soviet steamship Chelyuskin — with over 100 sailors and scientists aboard — set out on the 4,500-mile journey through the Arctic from Murmansk (a Russian port near Finland) to Vladivostok (a Russian port near China).

The aim? To prove that a non-icebreaker could traverse the Russian 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.”

The Kara Sea, which is covered by ice for most of the year, was named after Russia’s Kara River. The name of the river comes from a Nenets word meaning “hummocked ice.”

Speaking of ice…the Chelyuskin became trapped in ice in December. 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.


P.S. The head of the Chelyuskin expedition was Soviet scientist Otto Schmidt. A few years later, he supervised another expedition — the one that established the first-ever drift-ice station, the “North Pole-1.” To pay tribute to this accomplishment, Soviet parents named their children Oyushminald and Oyushminalda — contractions of the phrase “Otto Yulyevich Schmidt on the ice.”

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