Sedov, Georgy Yakovlevich

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(b. Krivaya Kosa, on the Sea of Azov, Russia, 1877; d. during an expedition to the North Pole, 5 March 1914)

hydrography, polar exploration.

The son of a fisherman, Sedov attended the local church school. In 1894 he served as a sailor on a trading ship, and the following year he entered the naval school at Rostov-on-Don. After qualifying as along-distance navigator in 1898, he sailed on the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea as navigator and captain. In 1900 Sedov entered naval service; he passed the examinations for the naval corps the next year and, with the rank of ensign, was assigned to the Main Hydrographical Administration of the Naval Ministry in St. Petersburg. In 1902 he joined an expedition to Novaya Zemlya. His work included a survey of the island of Vaygach and soundings of Yugorsky Shar.

In 1909 Sedov headed an expedition to explore the mouth of the Kolyma River and to investigate the possibility of approaching it from the sea. The group made a plane-table survey and sounding of the river, conducted meteorological and hydrological observations, surveyed the seacoast, and, before beginning navigation, gave a complete description of he mouth of the Kolyma. At the same time Sedov gathered ethnographical and geological material and made astronomical observations. In 1910 he explored and mapped Krestovaya Gulf on the western shore of Novaya Zemlya.

In 1912 Sedov proposed a sled expedition to the North Pole. His project was no supported by the government, so he organized an expedition with voluntary contributions, collecting 108,000 rubles and chartering a ship. On 10 September 1912 theSt. Fok sailed from Arkhangelsk with twenty-two crew members and scientists. At Novaya Zemlya she encountered a severe storm, began to leak, and shipped water. On the way to Franz Josef Land the route was blocked by heavy ice, and the expedition was forced to winter at Novaya Zemlya. During the winter Sedov organized expeditions by sleigh into the interior and along the shores; reached Cape Zhelania, on foot; and mapped the shore of the unexplored portion of Novaya Zemlya. The expedition reached Franz Josef Land on 13 September 1913 and began its second wintering at Bukhta Tikhaya on Hooker Island.

On 15 February 1914 Sedov, suffering from scurvy, headed for the North Pole with three dog teams and two sailors, G. Linnik and A. Pustoshny. He died en route and was buried at Cape Auk on Rudolf Island.

Sedov and the members of his expedition to the North Pole made meteorological and magnetic observations, investigated and mapped the northwestern and Karskiye Vorota shores of Novaya Zemlya, crossed the northern island of Novaya Zemlya, corrcted maps of Novaya Zemlya, gave geological descriptions of Hooker Island and Franz Josef Land, made observations on the condition of the ice, and determined astronomical points. Energetic and, as his friends wrote, “bold to the point of madness,” Sedov passsionately strove to reach the North Pole.


I. Original Works. Sedov’s writings include “Puteshestvie v Kolymu v 1909 g.” (“Journey to the Kolma in 1909”), in Zapiski po gidrografii, 41 , no. 2–3 (1917), 263–326; “Ekspeditsia po issledovaniayu guby Krestovoy na Novoy Zemle v 1910 g.” (“Expedition to investigate Krestovaya Bay on Novaya Zemlya in 1910”), ibid., 43 , no. 1 (1919), 119–136; “Tsarskoe pravitelstvo i polyarnaya ekspeditsia G. Y. Sedova 1912–1916 gg. Dokumently” (“The Tsarist Government and the Polar Expedition of G. Y. Sedov. Document”), Nagornow: and “Materialy rabot G. Y. Sedova za vremya pervoy zimovki From the Works of G. Y. Sedov on the First Wintering of the Polar Expedition of 1912–1913”), K. A. Bogdanov, ed., in Izvestiya Akademünauk SSSR, geographical ser. (1957), no. 3, 85–90.

II. Secondary Literature. See A. F. Laktionov, Severny polyus (“The North Pole”; Moscow, 1955); B. G. Ostrovsky, Bezvremenno ushedshie (G. Y. Sedov, V. A. Rusanov, G. L. Brusilov I E. V. Tol) (“Those Who Died Prematurely [G. Y. Sedov, V. A. Rusanov, G. L. Brusilov adn E. V. Tol]”; Leningrad, 1934), 3–31; N.V. Pinegin, “Georgy Sedov,” foreword to V. Y. Vize. Glavny sevmorput (“The Main Northern Sea Routes”) 2nd ed. (Moscow-Leningrod, 1953), 345; A. L. Soloviev and G. V. Karpov, “Georgy Yakovlevich sedovv,: in Otechestvennye fiziko geografy (“Native Physical Geographers”; Moscow, 1959), 434–439; and V. Y. Vize, “Posledny put Sedova” (“Sedova’s Last Trip”), in Sovetskaya arktika (1939), no. 3, 86–93; and “Georgy Yakovlevich Sedov.” in Russkie moreplavateli (“Russian Seafarers”; Moscow, 1953), 317–327.

Vera N. Fedchina