Smirnitsky Yakov Konstantinovich
(1907–28.10.1940)


Soviet Arctic hydrograph, honorary polar explorer.
Born in St. Petersburg in the family of a natural teacher. Until 1915, he lived in the city, then in the village of Sands of the former Luga district.
In 1924 he graduated from the 159th Soviet labor school and entered the Naval Hydrographic School. Upon graduation from the school, Smirnitsky with the title “hydrograph” joined the Ubekobalt Separate Hydrographic Detachment, in 1932 headed a separate hydrographic batch. In the same year, he was seconded to the hydrographic faculty of the Voroshilov Naval Academy, but failed to defend his thesis because he was demobilized under article 674 "e" of the Order of the Revolutionary Military Council of the USSR No. 2225 of 1928. This turned out to be related to the fact that his father in the period 1912-1915  was a minister of religious worship.
After demobilization, Smirnitsky became an employee of the Main Directorate of the Northern Sea Route, as the head of the Separate Hydrographic Party he worked in the north of Novaya Zemlya, then as a detachment leader in the straits of Dmitry Laptev and Sannikov in the Laptev Sea. He mastered all types of hydrographic works: surveying, astronomical and magnetometric, hydrological, geodesic and aerial photography.
From May 1938, Smirnitsky was appointed Head of the Hydrographic Department of the Main Directorate of the Northern Sea Route, and from April 22, 1940 Deputy Head of the State University G.N. Borovikov on scientific work.
In 1939, Smirnitsky headed a hydrographic expedition on the icebreaking steamer "Malygin", which made a through voyage of the Northern Sea from west to east. The following year, similar work was continued in the Chukchi and East Siberian seas. After completing them and taking a shift of wintering workers from the island of Henrietta in the De Long archipelago, the "Malygin" arrived in Providence Bay, from where on October 23 he headed for Vladivostok, having 85 people on board, including 12 women.
Four days later, a radio station in Petropavlovsk and ships in the region received a distress call from "Malygin". Off the eastern coast of Kamchatka, a hurricane blew off the bunker's deck mouth. A lot of water got into the stoker, steam in the ship’s boilers sat down, control was lost, the bank reached 20 degrees. In the last radiograms, the captain of the vessel Berdnikov reported that the water was coming, the bulkheads were breaking, superstructures were crumbling, the anchors did not reach the bottom, all life-saving appliances were destroyed by the hurricane. The situation is hopeless. At about 2 am on October 28, the "Malygin" abruptly went on board and sank.
The search continued for 43 days. On the shore were thrown remnants of superstructures and a broken boat. One of the few items found at the ship’s wreck was Smirnitsky’s briefcase with the money and documents of the expedition, which he prudently corked and carefully tied up. Amazing dedication. None of the members of the expedition and the team "Malygin" could not be saved.
Bay (Jacob Smirnitsky) in the south-east of the island Boiler house of the archipelago of the Novosibirsk Islands. The name was given in 1942 during the cameral processing of the survey materials of the 1940 expedition on the "Malygin" icebreaking steamer.

 

Return to the main page