Boris Vilkitsky

Boris Andreyevich Vilkitsky (Russian: Борис Андреевич Вилькицкий) (22 March (3 April N.S.) 1885 – 6 March 1961) was a Russian hydrographer and surveyor. He was the son of Andrey Ippolitovich Vilkitsky.

Boris Andreyevich Vilkitsky
Boris Andreyevich Vilkitsky


Vilkitsky graduated from the Naval Academy in Saint Petersburg in 1908. He participated in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905. In 1913—1915 he led the Arctic hydrographic expedition on the ships "Taimyr" and "Vaigach" with the purpose of further exploration of the Northern Sea Route.

In 1913, Vilkitsky's expedition discovered Emperor Nicholas II Land (Russian: Земля Императора Николая II, Zemlya Imperatora Nikolaya II) —later renamed 'Severnaya Zemlya', perhaps one of the most important Russian discoveries in the Arctic at the time.[1] Other discoveries were an island that now bears his name (Vilkitsky Island), as well as the islands of Maly Taymyr and neighboring Starokadomsky. In 1914—1915, Vilkitsky's expedition made the first through voyage from Vladivostok to Arkhangelsk, discovered Novopashenniy Island (now Zhokhov Island), and described the eastern coastline of the territory he named 'Emperor Nicholas II Land'. He was awarded the prestigious Constantine Medal by the Russian Geographical Society for his endeavours. [2]

In 1918, Vilkitsky was appointed head of the first Soviet hydrographic expedition, which never took place due to its seizure by the interventionists in Arkhangelsk. In 1920, Vilkitsky emigrated to Britain. In 1923 and 1924, Vilkitsky led commercial expeditions in the Kara Sea at the invitation of the Soviet foreign trade organizations.

Later in his life, Vilkitsky was employed as a hydrographer in the Belgian Congo. Boris Vilkitsky died in Brussels in 1961.

1913 Russian Hydrographic Service map showing the route of Vilkitsky's expedition.
Emperor Nicholas II Land Russian Empire Map
Emperor Nicholas II Land and Tsarevich Alexei Island, the still incompletely charted new territories named by Boris Vilkitsky, in a 1915 map of the Russian Empire.


Stamps of Russia 2013 No 1732-1734 Severnaya Zemlya
Russian 2013 stamp dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Severnaya Zemlya

Many geographical features in Russia bear Vilkitsky's name:

See also


  1. ^ The Arctic Ocean Hydrographic Expedition 1910–1915 Archived 16 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Josephson, Paul. The Conquest of the Russian Arctic. p. 30.
  3. ^ Map Trot, Russia


Andrey Vilkitsky

Andrey Ippolitovich Vilkitsky (Russian: Андрей Ипполитович Вилькицкий; 13 June [O.S. 1 June] 1858 — 11 March [O.S. 26 February] 1913) was a Russian hydrographer and surveyor. He was born in the Minsk Governorate. His son, Boris Vilkitsky followed up his father's work; the Vilkitsky Islands are named after him.

Bolshevik Island

Bolshevik Island (Russian: о́стров Большеви́к, pronounced [ˈostrəf bəlʲʂɨˈvʲik]) is an island in Severnaya Zemlya, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russian Arctic.

Cape Baranov

Cape Baranov (Russian: Мыс Баранова; Mys Baranova) is a headland in Severnaya Zemlya, Russia.

Cape Berg

Cape Berg (Russian: Мыс Берга, Mys Berga) is a headland in Severnaya Zemlya, Russia.

This cape was named after prominent Soviet geographer and biologist Lev Berg (1876 – 1950).

Cape Unslicht

Cape Unslicht (Russian: Мыс Песчаный, Mys Peschanyy) is a headland in Severnaya Zemlya, Russia.

Jeannette Island

Jeannette Island (Russian: Остров Жанне́тты, Ostrov Zhannetty) is the easternmost island of the De Long Islands archipelago in the East Siberian Sea. Administratively it belongs to the Sakha Republic of the Russian Federation.

Komsomolets Island

Komsomolets Island (Russian: остров Комсомолец) is the northernmost island of the Severnaya Zemlya group in the Russian Arctic, and the third largest island in the group. It is the 82nd largest island on earth. About 65% of the island is covered with glaciers.

Komsomolskaya Pravda Islands

The Komsomolskaya Pravda Islands (Russian: Острова Комсомольской Правды, Ostrova Komsomol'skoy Pravdy) are an archipelago in the far north of the Russian Federation. The islands are uninhabited and are covered with tundra vegetation, shingle and ice.

The climate in these islands and the surrounding waters is extremely severe with frequent gales and blizzards in the winter. The sea surrounding the archipelago is covered with fast ice most of the year and is obstructed by pack ice even in the summer.

List of polar explorers

This list is for recognised pioneering explorers of the polar regions. It does not include subsequent travelers and expeditions.

Maly Taymyr Island

Maly Taymyr Island (Russian: Малый Таймыр, or Little Taymyr Island) is an island in the Laptev Sea, Russian Arctic.

October Revolution Island

October Revolution Island (Russian: Остров Октябрьской Революции, Ostrov Oktyabrskoy Revolyutsii) is the largest island of the Severnaya Zemlya group in the Russian Arctic.

The area of this island has been estimated at 14,170 km2 (5,470 sq mi) making it the 59th largest island in the world. It rises to a height of 965 m (3,166 ft) on Mount Karpinsky. Half the island is covered with glaciers reaching down into the sea. In the sections free from ice, the vegetation is desert or tundra.

Russian Geographical Society

The Russian Geographical Society (Russian: Ру́сское географи́ческое о́бщество «РГО») (RGO) is a learned society based in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It promotes exploration and geography with research programs in fields including oceanography and ethnography.

Starokadomsky Island

Starokadomsky Island (Russian: Остров Старокадомского; Ostrov Starokadomskogo) is an hourglass-shaped island in the Laptev Sea, Russian Arctic.

Taymyr (1909 icebreaker)

The Taymyr was an icebreaking steamer of 1200 tons built for the Russian Imperial Navy at St. Petersburg in 1909. It was named after the Taymyr Peninsula.

Taymyr and her sister ship Vaygach were built for the purpose of thoroughly exploring the uncharted areas of the Northern Sea Route. This venture became known as the Arctic Ocean Hydrographic Expedition.

Vaygach (1909 icebreaker)

Icebreaker Vaygach (Russian: Вайгач) was an icebreaking steamer of moderate size built for the Russian Imperial Navy at St. Petersburg in 1909. She was named after Vaygach Island in the Russian Arctic.

Vaygach and her sister ship Taymyr were built for the purpose of thoroughly exploring the uncharted areas of the Northern Sea Route. This venture became known as the Arctic Ocean Hydrographic Expedition.

The first of a series of surveys began in the autumn of 1910, when Vaygach and Taymyr left Vladivostok. They entered the Chukchi Sea with scientists on board and began their exploration. For the next five years, these icebreakers went on sounding and carrying on vital surveys during the thaw. Before every winter, when ice conditions became too bad, they returned to Vladivostok and waited for the spring. In 1911 the scientists and crew aboard Vaygach and Taymyr made the first Russian landing on Wrangel Island.

In 1914, led by Colonel I. Sergeev, Vaygach sailed together with Taymyr, whose captain was Boris Vilkitsky. Together, they tried to force the whole Northern Passage in order to reach Archangelsk. Severe weather and ice conditions, however, did not allow them to cross the Kara Sea and they were forced to winter at Bukhta Dika, close to the Firnley Islands. Thus they were able to complete the passage only in 1915.

Some of the biggest successes of the expedition were the accurate charting of the Northern Sea Route and the discovery of Severnaya Zemlya in 1913. Taymyr and Vaygach were considered the best icebreakers in the world at the time.


Vilkitsky may refer to any of the following:

PeopleAndrey Vilkitsky (1858-1913), a Russian Arctic explorer

Boris Vilkitsky (1885-1961), a Russian Arctic explorer, son of abovePlacesThe Vilkitsky Strait, a strait in the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago.

The Vilkitsky Islands in the Nordenskiöld Archipelago in the eastern region of the Kara Sea

The Vilkitsky Island (Kara Sea) in the southern areas of the Kara Sea

The Vilkitsky Island (East Siberian Sea) of the De Long Islands, in the East Siberian Sea

The Vilkitsky island subgroup and its main island, the Vilkitsky Island, of the Komsomolskaya Pravda Islands in the Laptev Sea

Vilkitsky Island (East Siberian Sea)

Vilkitsky Island (Russian: Остров Вильки́цкого; Ostrov Vilkitskogo) is the southernmost island of the De Long group in the northern part of the East Siberian Sea. Administratively Vilkitsky Island belongs to the Sakha Republic administrative division of the Russian Federation.The island is named after Russian hydrographer Boris Vilkitsky.

Vilkitsky Island (Kara Sea)

Vilkitsky Island, (Russian: Остров Вильки́цкого; Ostrov Vil'kitskogo) is an island in the Kara Sea. It is located 40 km northeast of Shokalskogo Island, off the tip of the Gydan Peninsula in North Siberia.

This island is not to be confused with other islands called "Vilkitsky", such as the small Vilkitsky group (now mentioned as Dzhekman Islands in most maps) which is part of the Nordenskjold Archipelago, the Vilkitsky Islands located in the Laptev sea off the eastern shores of the Taymyr Peninsula, and also Vilkitsky Island in the De Long Group in the Eastern Siberian Sea.

Vilkitsky Strait

Vilkitsky Strait (Russian: Пролив Вилькицкого) is a strait between the Taimyr Peninsula and Bolshevik Island in the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago. The strait connects the Kara and Laptev Seas. The length of the Vilkitsky Strait is 128 km, the width approx. 55 km and the depth between 32 m and 210 m. It is covered with drifting ice all year round. The strait was discovered in 1913 by a Russian hydrographic expedition led by Boris Vilkitsky and then named after him in 1918.

The Geiberg Islands cover the entrance to the Vilkitsky Strait from the east, and the Firnley Islands do so from the west. The shores on the side of the Taymyr Peninsula are covered with tundra vegetation and scattered stones. The northern coast is higher, and it becomes lower going south. The rivers that flow into the Vilkitsky Strait from the continental side are not significant. They are shallow and not suitable for navigation.

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