Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Alexei Krusenstern about Circumnavigation 2012-2013

The Russian bark Sedov is sailing towards the coasts of French Polynesia as part of its round-the-world voyage. The Sedov is retracing the route of the first Russian round the world expedition led by Ivan Krusenstern 200 years ago. Photo: Karina Ivashko

The seafarer’s descendant Alexei Krusenstern is writing a book about Russian round the world voyages which should come out after the current expedition comes to an end. The Voice of Russia’s Karina Ivashko and Alexei Lyakhov report.

The bark Sedov set sail from Lieutenant Schmidt Embankment in St.Petersburg, which is known for a monument to Russian navigator Ivan Krusenstern. In 1802, Lieutenant Commander Ivan Krusenstern wrote a letter to Russian Emperor Alexander I with a proposal to mount a round the world expedition. The emperor found his arguments convincing. One year later, the two ships, Nadezhda and Neva, set out on a round the world diplomatic and research mission paving the way to a series of successful round the world trips by Russian navigators.

Ivan Krusenstern’s descendant, Alexei Krusenstern, a former doctor and now a businessman, is writing a book about Russian round the world expeditions covering a period from his famous ancestor’s expedition of 200 years ago to the current voyage.

"The book will tell readers about 19th century round the world trips. More than fifty such expeditions took place in the middle of the 19th century. Many expeditions were made in the early 20th century. In Soviet times, ships did not go on round the world trips, except for merchant ships. In 1991, the tradition of sending ships on round the world trips was revived and a whole number of vessels, including the Russian tall ship Kruzenshtern named after the famous seafarer, and the ships Pallada, Nadezhda, and now Sedov, are partaking in circumnavigation projects."

A separate chapter of the book will be devoted to the first circumnavigation of the globe. Thanks to a large number of illustrations, readers will be able to compare the way things looked two centuries ago with what they look now. The author will also speak about Russia’s influence on global navigation.

According to Alexei Krusenstern, round the world trips have a particular meaning for Russian people for a good reason.

"No other nation but Russia can boast that its seafarers come back to the Russian land being only halfway through a round the world voyage. After covering two oceans, they arrive at the Russian Far East. This could be why Russians are so keen on round the world expeditions."

The vast size of Russia, washed by three oceans, becomes tangible only on a round the world trip. A passion for seafaring runs in the Krusenstern family, Alexei Krusenstern says.

"At least five members of the Krusenstern family have made round the world voyages. As a seaman cadet, young Ivan Krusenstern distinguished himself in the war against Sweden in 1788 and was ordered to capture a Swedish flagship. When he boarded the enemy ship, he discovered that among those on board there were three Swedish lieutenants who were his cousins. One of them, Maurice Adolf von Krusenstern, became the leader of the first Swedish circumnavigation several years later."

Alexei Krusenstern was going to celebrate his 50th birthday at Cape Horn, on the Russian bark Sedov. However, he had to change his plans as his part of the Circumnavigation 2012-2013 Project, he says, is to present a complete layout of the book by the bark’s return from the months-long journey.


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