Sorokin Mikhail Yakovlevich
(24.09(07.10).1879–24.06.1955)


Outstanding Soviet ice captain.
Born in the village of Akhmat on the Volga, now Krasnoarmeysky district of the Saratov region. His father was a merchant, he had his ship and pier. According to the information of the great-granddaughter of Mikhail Yakovlevich Zhanna in the village of Dubovka (now the Volgograd Region), his log house still stands.

From an early age, Sorokin sailed on a fishing boat on the Volga, served as a sailor on fishing sacks engaged in fishing in the Caspian Sea. Later he worked on the ships of the transport fleet of the eastern Russian society, on the cruiser Aurora he fought in the Tsushima battle. Showing great desire, perseverance and perseverance, he entered the Baku Naval School and received a navigator diploma.
By the beginning of the First World War, Sorokin commanded the hydrographic vessel "Azimuth", which, in addition to the usual surveying works, was to be engaged in mines. With the rank of captain of the body of hydrographs, he received his first military awards: the Order of St. Stanislav 2 degrees with swords and St. Anna of 4 degrees with the inscription "For Bravery".
In the spring of 1918, at "Azimuth", Sorokin participated in the famous “ice expedition” of the ships of the Baltic Fleet from Helsingfors to Kronstadt.
After demobilization, Sorokin worked on icebreakers in the Baltic Sea, gaining the fame of an experienced ice captain, and it is not by chance that his knowledge and abilities soon became popular in the Arctic. For two years he worked on the Kara expeditions, in 1929, on the Krasin, he conducted 26 vessels, laying the foundation for regular voyages in the western sector of the Northern Sea Route, and in 1934 he led the naval operations of the Second Lena Expedition.
In May 1938, Sorokin was appointed captain of the Yermak icebreaker. As is well known, in the most difficult ice conditions in 1937, most of the Arctic fleet was captured by ice in various regions of the Arctic. The flagship of the Soviet icebreaker fleet was to play a major role in the release of wintering ships, many of which were in trouble. "Ermak" under the leadership of Sorokin adequately solved this task.
On May 10, in the early period for the Arctic voyages, the Yermak set off to the archipelago of Franz-Iosef Land, where the icebreaking steamer Vladimir Rusanov, the "Roshal" and "Proletary" steamers were wintering. Overcoming the hardest 9-ball ice, the icebreaker approached Tikhaya Bay, freed the ice-bound ships and led them to the edge of the ice.
Having buried coal in Murmansk, “Yermak” went to Dickson and provided necessary assistance to six foreign ships that had wintered here.  The next step was the release of ice in the Vilkitsky Strait the convoy of an ice-cutter "F. Litke".
After completing this operation, "Yermak" went to the Laptev Sea. He was faced with the most difficult task - to remove from the ice captivity the ice-breaking steamers "Sadko", "G.  Sedov” and “Malygin”, drifting in the Central Arctic Basin.
The icebreaker went to the north, where no vessel reached in the free voyage. The movement was hindered by not only powerful 9–10-ball ice, but also very thick fog. Astronomical observations were extremely difficult, often had to stop and go to drift.
Finally, at dawn on August 28, when the fog cleared, the drifting vessels, already under steam, opened to the gaze of the Yermak team. "Ermak" reached 83 ° 06 'N, which was a record for free swimming.
The first was launched "Malygin", which "Ermak" took in tow. "Sadko" went independently along the channel punched by the icebreaker. The impossible task was the conclusion of "Sedov". During the drift, he had a rudder damaged, the ship rested in a solid ice trough. Attempts to take it on a short tug did not lead to anything. The thick 6-inch cable could not withstand the load, moreover, Ermak itself lost the right propeller. The sharp cooling and rapid northern drift threatened to hibernate for all ships, and the management decided to leave the Sedov in drift and use it as a research station. The team was made up entirely of volunteers,  voluntarily became captain K.S. Badigin. The heroic drift of Sedov, during which the polar explorers obtained outstanding scientific materials, lasted another two years.
The return trip also took place in heavy ice. "Ermak" lost the left propeller and remained only with the average machine. Helping each other, the ships on September 10 nevertheless reached the edge of the ice, where they were waiting for the Litke ice-cutter and the steamer Mossovet for bunkering.
On this navigation for "Ermak" is not over. The wounded icebreaker was engaged in escorting ships on the Kara Sea - Laptev Sea. In total, in the Arctic navigation of 1938, “Yermak” traveled over 13 thousand miles, of which 2,600 miles in heavy ice. 17 ships were released from the ice captivity, along the Northern Sea Route - 10 transport ships. For this navigation, "Yermak" was awarded the rolling Red Banner, many crew members, including Sorokin, were awarded the badge "Honorary Polar Explorer".
Sorokin continued to command "Yermak" in the last two prewar years, and throughout the war, when the icebreaker was introduced into the Baltic Fleet and carried out combat missions to support the Leningrad Front. Under artillery shelling and bombing, in fog and snowy haze, in severe 40-degree frosts, Yermak conducted caravans with food, fuel, equipment. The military merits of Sorokin were awarded the orders of Lenin, the Red Banner and Nakhimov 2 degrees.
At the end of the war, "Ermak" under the command of Sorokin participated in the rescue operations in the Baltic.
Sorokin, who had been in command of “Yermak” for more than twelve years, was awarded seven orders and three medals for labor and combat exploits. He raised a whole galaxy of ice captains, including Yu.S. Kuchiev, who for the first time reached the North Pole on the atomic-powered "Arktika", implemented the slogan of Admiral S.O. Makarov "Forward - to the pole".
He died in Leningrad, was buried in the Serafimov cemetery.
Island east of Belukha Island in the Kara Sea. Named in 1933 by I.A. Landin.

 

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