Saint Petersburg: Typ. of the Printing joint-stock company of E. Evdokimov, 1901.
First and only edition. Octavo. xxi, , 507 pp. With twenty-five phototypic plates and five folding lithographed maps. Original publisher’s light grey full cloth with a colour-stamped image of the icebreaker on the front board and gilt-lettered titles on the front board and the spine. Binding slightly rubbed on extremities, corners slightly bumped, paper slightly age-toned, but overall a very good copy with intact maps.
A piece of classic Russian Arctic literature - the description of the construction and maiden voyage to Spitzbergen (1899) of the “Yermak” - the first in the world Arctic icebreaker. Her construction was initiated and supervised by rear admiral Stepan Makarov in order to open year-round navigation along the Northeast Passage or the route from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean along the Arctic coast of Russia. The project was supported by the world-famous Russian chemist Dmitry Mendeleev (1834-1907) and Russian Finance Minister Sergey Witte (1849-1915). Later, Yermak served in the Russian and Soviet naval and commercial fleet, taking part in the operations of WW1 and WW2. The icebreaker was scraped in 1963. An island in the Nordenskiold Archipelago in the Kara Sea was named after her.
The first part of the book contains a historical overview of Arctic exploration, history of icebreakers, accounts of Makarov’s preparatory voyages to the mouths of the Ob and Yenisey Rivers in 1897, history of the “Yermak’s” construction in Newcastle upon Tyne (1898), her early service in the Baltic Sea, and the maiden voyage to Spitsbergen (she reached 81°21'N north). The second part contains detailed results of astronomical and navigational, meteorological, hydrological, magnetic observations, studies of sea ice, the chemical composition of the seawater, notes on Arctic zoology et al. Five maps at rear show the Russian Empire, Arctic region in general, routes of the icebreaker “Yermak” and steamers “Lofoten” (around Spitsbergen) and “Ioann Kronstadtsky” (from Hammerfest to the mouth of the Yenisey River); the Norwegian Sea with the data on the specific weight of seawater on the surface; Barents and Kara Seas also indicating the specific weight of seawater.
Stepan Makarov was a Russian vice-admiral, a highly accomplished and decorated commander of the Russian Imperial Navy, an oceanographer, awarded by the Russian Academy of Sciences, and author of several books. Makarov also designed several ships. The town of Shiritoru on the Sakhalin Island was renamed Makarov in 1946 in his honour. He proposed the world's first icebreaker, the Yermak, oversaw her construction, and commanded her on her maiden voyage in 1899. In 1901, Makarov commanded the Yermak on the Arctic expedition to survey the coasts of Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land (Wikipedia).
Makarov was “a brilliant and innovative naval architect, inventor, tactician, and ship designer. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, his new designs and tactics for torpedo boats were used on the Black Sea with notable success. He was a pioneering Russian oceanographer, and he also designed the first mine-laying ships intended exclusively for that purpose. His armour-piercing shells, known as Makarov tips, greatly increased the penetrating force of shells. He also designed and built the icebreaker Ermak to explore the Arctic. Makarov became Russia’s youngest admiral at age 41 in 1890, and he was promoted to vice admiral in 1896. He held a series of increasingly important posts during the 1890s; in February 1904 he was appointed commander of the Pacific Ocean squadron at the start of the Russo-Japanese War and acquitted himself ably until three months later when he was killed as his flagship, Petropavlovsk, struck a mine and sank” (Encyclopaedia Britannica online).