Melekhov Afanasy Pavlovich
Soviet ice captain.
Born near Arkhangelsk at Isakogork station in the family of a
narrow-gauge railway worker. Since
childhood, which has passed in the lap of nature, he was
distinguished by reticence, earnestness, perseverance, and loyalty
to this word.
During the life of his father, Melekhov went to work at a local
sawmill as a planner of boards, and at 16, after his father’s death,
the rest of a family of eight people fell on his shoulders. He
entered as a cleaner on an English steamer wintering in Arkhangelsk,
and in the spring he made his first flight to Hull. His
fate was predetermined - Melekhov forever connected his life with
the sea. He
served as a sailor on the steamships "Nonni", "Kursk", "Sishan", the
helmsman on the ship "Erivan".
By the beginning of the civil war Melekhov found himself in the
Far East, like many others, was forcibly recruited into the White
Army, fled to the partisans, participated in the Gaydava uprising
against the Kolchak troops. The
case ended with an arrest and a sentence of execution, which was
miraculously avoided thanks to the help of a friend, the stoker of
the steamer “George” the Horned, who gave false defense testimony.
After the war, Melekhov graduated from the nautical school,
received a diploma of navigator of a small voyage, as a third
assistant sailed on various vessels, including the then famous
it in 1924 during the flight to Kolyma Melekhov got on his first
wintering near the island of Shalaurov, where the “Stavropol” was
caught in ice.
In May 1925 Melekhov was sent from the wintering place to the
mouth of the Kolyma. Together
with the boatswain Jacobson and a group of volunteers from the local
population, he repaired the American schooner "Polarber" squeezed by
ice ashore. Renamed
the "Polar Star", this schooner has forever entered the history of
navigation in the eastern sector of the Soviet Arctic.
Having passed the exam for the course of the marine technical
school, Melekhov received a diploma of a sea captain in 1927, but
only three years later, having gained experience in the positions of
the third, second and senior assistant captain, he received the
"Syasstroy" steamship command, followed by “Theodore Nette”,“Indigirka”, “Stalingrad”. In
1933 on the steamer "Sverdlovsk", Melekhov made his second Arctic
voyage, which left a mark on the history of the development of the
Northern Sea Route.With cruel northerly winds the ship pressed ice
to Cape Jenretlen. Twenty
miles away, the Chelyuskin was overwritten with ice, and for a month
the ships involved in the drift were spinning near each other. Sverdlovsk
managed to escape, he even towed the emergency ship “Lieutenant
Schmidt” in tow.
After this flight, Melekhov finally connected life with the
1934 he headed the second North-Kolyma Expedition, which included
three vessels. In
1935 Melekhov was instructed to carry out the usual commercial
vessel “Stalingrad” on the first commercial flight. In
six and a half days, in record time, 175 passengers and 75 head of
cattle were delivered from Vladivostok to Kolyma. A
month later, making his way through the ice and fogs, where on his
own, where with the help of icebreakers, the Stalingrad reached
Igarka, and after another 18 days arrived in Murmansk. From
Murmansk with a cargo of wood taken in Igarka, “Stalingrad” went to
London, and from there came with a cargo to Leningrad. It
has been proven that the Northern Sea Route is prepared for normal
In the following years, Melekhov drove the "Stalingrad" from
Leningrad to Vladivostok, from Vladivostok to Murmansk, from
Arkhangelsk to Tiksi and back. His
name ranked with the names of outstanding Arctic captains.
In 1939 Melekhov was appointed captain of the new icebreaking
"Dezhnev", in 1940 - the icebreaker
"Krasin" and at the same
time head of marine operations in the eastern sector of the Arctic.
All those who knew Melekhov noted his highest human and
professional qualities. As
sailors used to say in jest, he could have been blindfolded from the
Golden Horn to the Kolyma cats, and even farther to the West. Melekhov
in detail knew all the features of hydrology, meteorology, currents,
and shallow water along the entire route of the eastern sector.
His excellent command of the Chukchi language,
friendliness and benevolence have earned him the greatest respect
for the local population.
For his merits, Melekhov was awarded the Orders of
the Red Banner of Labor and Lenin. In
1942 he was sent to the United States to prepare ships and cargo
destined to help the USSR by the allies. A
foreign ship, on which Melekhov was, was torpedoed by an enemy
submarine at the entrance to one of the North American ports. Melekhov
died with him. Three
weeks later, his body washed ashore near Boston, where it was
In 1944 the son of M.I. Kalinin
Valerian brought the urn with the dust of Melekhov. She
was reburied in Moscow at the Novodevichy
the island of Alexandra Land archipelago Franz Josef Land. Named
by cartographers in the 1950s.
the island of Krestovsky and the islands of Pushkarev and Leontyev
in the archipelago of the Bear Islands in the East Siberian Sea. Named
no later than 1945.