Polar Record


Aleksandr Stepanovich Kuchin: the Russian who went south with Amundsen

William Barra1

a1 Department of Geography, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N OWO


Aleksandr Stepanovich Kuchin (1888–1912) was already an experienced mariner and oceanographer when Amundsen invited him to join the Fram expedition of 1910–12. Expecting a voyage through the Barents Sea, Kuchin found himself on an expedition to the Antarctic. While Amundsen's sledging parties sought the South Pole, Kuchin remained with the ship, completing an excellent oceanographic survey of the southern Atlantic Ocean. Returning to Russia in 1912 he was recruited, by the geologist and explorer V. A. Rusinov to join a scientific expedition to Svalbard. As deputy leader of the party and captain of Gerkules, the expedition ship, Kuchin played an important role in the Svalbard survey. Then once again found himself heading in an unexpected direction: on completing the Svalbard work, Rusanov decided to attempt the Northern Sea Route to the Bering Strait. Gerkules disappeared and was never seen again; her loss, presumably in the Kara Sea, brought to an untimely end the career of a promising young polar explorer.

(Received May 1984)