Steamer Pravda

From SpottingWorld, the Hub for the SpottingWorld network...

Steamer Pravda was a Soviet merchant freighter of about 3,100 tonnes displacement, which was active in the Soviet Arctic during the 1930s. This ship had been normally used for carrying timber. It was named after Soviet newspaper Pravda.

In 1933, the newly formed Glavsevmorput’ (Chief Administration of the Northern Sea Route) sent the Pravda, under Captain Kh. A. Belitskiy, to Nordvik on the first oil exploration expedition to Northern Siberia. This venture was led by N.N. Urvantsev who travelled on the Pravda along with his wife, Dr. Yelizaveta Ivanovna who was in charge of medical care. Pravda's cargo consisted of 2,430 tonnes of equipment and supplies for this important expedition, including four experimental NATI-2 half-track vehicles built by the Nauchnyy Avtotraktornyy Institut in Moscow. These were the first tracked vehicles to be used in the Russian Arctic in history. They would be used to haul the drill, buildings and supplies, from the landing site to the drilling site. Apart from the detachable drill rig and a fully-equipped drilling camp, Pravda also carried the rails, ties and rolling stock for a narrow-gauge railway.

Pravda travelled along with steamers Tovarich Stalin and Volodarskiy, which were on their way to the mouth of the Lena.

By 4 September steamer Pravda was in the Khatanga Gulf, close to Nordvik. Captain Belitskiy had decided to approach Nordvik Bay from the east, between Poluostrov Paksa and Bolshoy Begichev Island. Despite having no knowledge of the depths in the channel Belitskiy went ahead, without taking the elementary precaution of sounding and Pravda ran aground in the centre of the channel two times.

Ice conditions in the Vilkitsky Strait (between Severnaya Zemlya and Cape Chelyuskin), forced the three freighters of the convoy, the Pravda, the Volodarskiy and the Tovarich Stalin to winter at Ostrov Samuila in the Komsomolskaya Pravda Islands. A shore station was built and a full scientific programme maintained all winter by N. N. Urvantsev and his wife, Dr. Yelizaveta Ivanovna.

These ships were released in the following year by icebreaker Feodor Litke. Feodor Litke made such a great effort to break a channel through the thick ice that it caused damage to its hull.

Once freed, Pravda proceeded to Maria Pronchishcheva Bay to retrieve the fuel and boats she had had to jettison there, after which she sailed to Nordvik Bay, her initial destination.

See also


  • William Barr, The First Soviet Convoy to the Mouth of the Lena.