Ivan Papanin

Ivan Dmitrievich Papanin (Russian: Иван Дмитриевич Папанин, 26 November [O.S. 14 November] 1894 – 30 January 1986) was a Soviet polar explorer, scientist, Counter Admiral, and twice Hero of the Soviet Union, who was awarded nine Orders of Lenin.

Ivan Dmitrievich Papanin
Born(1894-11-26)26 November 1894
Died30 January 1986(1986-01-30) (aged 91)
Moscow, Soviet Union
NationalitySoviet Union
Occupation(s)Polar explorer, scientist

Life and careerEdit

Early life and participation in the Red TerrorEdit

Ivan Papanin in June 1938.

Ivan was born in Sevastopol into the family of a sailor of Russian Greek origin. In 1914 he was conscripted into the Imperial Russian Navy. He took part in the Russian Civil War on the Bolshevik side, fighting in Ukraine. In 1920 he was sent to Crimea to organize a guerrilla movement against the forces of the White Movement leader, Baron Pyotr Wrangel.

In November 1920, after the Bolshevik takeover of Crimea, Papanin was appointed prosecutor and commandant of the Crimean branch of the Soviet secret police, the Cheka. Rosalia Zemlyachka, organizer of the Red Terror in Crimea, is reported to have been his superior and friend.[1][2]

As a polar explorerEdit

In 1923, he worked for the Narkomat of Communications. In 1931, he took part in the expedition of the icebreaker Malygin to Franz Josef Land. Between 1932 and 1933, he was the head of a polar expedition on Tikhaya Bay on Franz Josef Land. In 1934-1935 he was in command of a polar station on Cape Chelyuskin.

In 1937, he was in charge of the famous North Pole-1 expedition.[3][4] Four researchers, Ivan Papanin, Ernst Krenkel, Yevgeny Fyodorov and Petr Shirshov, landed on the drifting ice-floes in an airplane flown by Mikhail Vodopyanov. For 234 days, Papanin's team carried out a wide range of scientific observations in the near-polar zone, until they were taken back by the two icebreakers Murman and Taimyr. It was the first expedition of its kind in the world. All members of the expedition received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, which was extremely rare before World War II.

In 1939-1946 Papanin was the successor to Otto Schmidt as head of the Glavsevmorput' (Glavniy Severniy Morskoy Put') - an establishment that oversaw all commercial operations on the Northern Sea Route. In 1940 he received a second Hero of the Soviet Union title for organizing the expedition that saved the Sedov. During World War II he was the representative of the State Defence Committee (Gosudarstvennij Komitet Oborony) responsible for all transportation by the Northern Sea Route. Between 1941 and 1952, he was a member of the Central Revision Commission of the Communist Party.

Later careerEdit

Between 1948 and 1951, he was the deputy director of Institute for Oceanology of the USSR Academy of Sciences and from 1951 until his death in 1986, he was the Head of the Academy's Department of Maritime Expeditions. Until 1972, he was also the director of the Institute for the Biology of Inland Waters (Bilogii Vnutrennikh Vod).


Papanin's name has been given to a cape on the Taimyr Peninsula, a mountain in Antarctica, and an underwater mountain in the Pacific Ocean. His name was also given to an ice-class cargo and research ship (call sign: UCJE) built in 1990 that operates in both Arctic seas and the Antarctic. In October 2019, Russia unveiled an 8,500-tonne, 300-foot-long icebreaking patrol ship named after him at the Admiralty Shipyard in St. Petersburg.[5]

Honours and awardsEdit

other medals and foreign decorations.


  1. ^ Матрос, чекист, полярник. За что уважают и ненавидят Ивана Папанина? [Seaman, chekist and polar explorer. For what do people respect and hate Ivan Papanin?] - Andrey Sidorchik, Argumenty i fakty, 26 November 2019
  2. ^ Два капитана: Колчак и Папанин [Two Captains: Kolchak and Papanin] - Novaya Gazeta, 23 November 2016
  3. ^ "North Pole Drifting Stations (1930s-1980s)". Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. 2011-08-17. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  4. ^ John McCannon, Red Arctic: Polar Exploration and the Myth of the North in the Soviet Union, 1932–1939 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 73-78
  5. ^ Russia Arctic Icebreaker

External linksEdit