Polar Expedition Kartesh project carries out expeditions on the dedicated research vessel Kartesh
R/V Kartesh was built more than 40 years ago and has a proud history. Working offshore in the Barents and the White seas, the vessel became widely known among scholars and divers. Kartesh’s life is marked with three bright milestones, each of them symbolically reflected on the vessel’s color: first white, then blue and, finally, red.
The White Sea Biological Station of the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences Director Alexey Sukhotin shared some details about the “white” period of Kartesh:
Kartesh was launched in Astrakhan in 1973. It was customized for the White Sea Biological Station of the Zoological Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences. The vessels of RS-300 class were usually designed in the Russian Far East for the Pacific Fishery Fleet. Kartesh was built in Astrakhan, as it was initially meant to be utilized for research purposes in the western part of the country.
With a helping hand of the USSR Academy of Sciences Biology Department Secretary and Zoology Institute director Boris Bykhovsky, together with the renowned soviet polar explorer Ivan Papanin, Kartesh started to serve national science in the Barents and the White Sea.
The White Sea biological station have been utilizing the vessel 1974 to 1999. The first research voyage took place in August 1974, and the last one occurred even after the vessel had been sold, in May 1999. The ship’s white boards became renowned among the biological station employees as well as all the northern region dwellers. The station employees upgraded the vessel twice, in 1978 and in 1982.
This important period lasted for 25 years. The biological research station lost funding in the late 90s and had to sell the vessel.
The LMSU Diving Club purchased the ship in 1999. The club was founded by the LMSU employees: marine biologists and scuba diving enthusiasts. The club raised funds and saved the ship. From that point forward the second stage of the ship’s life began, she acquired new blue colors and a new mission. Kartesh turned into a contemporary comfortable vessel equipped for distant underwater expeditions in the northern seas. The vessel became renowned among the divers, as it was capable of visiting hard-to-reach pristine areas, especially areas of shallow depth and coastline areas. “Safari diving” participants could see the marvelous but severe world of the Arctic Ocean with their own eyes. Sometime afterward, the project was wound up and the vessel was abandoned at the dock.
2014 witnessed Kartesh return to her former glory as she was given a chance to serve her homeland again. Having undergone extensive repairs, R/V Kartesh entered her third stage in a new glorious bright-red color. This time the vessel’s mission is cultural and scientific, her route is within the Barents Sea, the Kara Sea and even beyond. Murmansk to Arkhangelsk and further on: Kartesh is now a helpful assistant working for the Russian and global science and research. More to that, she brings the inhabitants of distant northern areas photo exhibitions, an outstanding cultural event.