Transits of the North East Passage

by John MacFarlane (1990 - Revised 1995, 2011 & 2012)

Year Name Master Nationality Vessel Type Details
1878-79 Vega Baron Adolf Erik Nordensiold (Expedition Leader) & Lt. Louis Pander (R.Sw.N.) in command of Vega Sweden steam whaler They made the first transit, west to east, and circumnavigated Asia and Europe.
1917c Taimyr & Vaygach Boris Viltiski and Admiral Alexander Kolchak Russia icebreakers They made the first east to west transit.
1918-20 Maud Raold Amundsen Norway schooner West to east transit
1932 Aleksandr Sibiryakov Vladimir Ivanovich Voronin Russia (ex Newfoundland sealer) She left Arkhangel'sk with a scientific expedition under Otto Schmidt to Bering Strait. Vessel built at Glasgow in 1909.
1934 Litke nk Russia icebreaker Made the first east to west single season transit.
1935 (2 freighters) nk Russia freighters Each traveled in the opposite direction in a single season.
1936 Josif Stalin nk Russia icebreaker She was the first Soviet-built icebreaker. She made a double transit sailing in both directions in a single season.
1940 Komet nk Germany naval raider She was helped through from west to east in record time by two Soviet icebreakers.
1940 Josif Stalin & Kaganovich nk Russia icebreakers They helped the German naval raider Komet through from west to east in record time by two Soviet icebreakers.
1991 L'Astrolabe nk France cruise ship She sailed from Murmansk to Provideniya with Russian help utilizing satellite ice cover photos. The purpose of the voyage was to reopen the sea route for international ship traffic and to gain experience about navigation along the sea route for future merchant ship traffic. The expedition was organized by Mers Magnetique, a French association for conserving the ecology in the Arctic.
1996-99 Apostol Andrew Dmitry Shparo & Matvey Shparo Russia Yacht In 1996-1999 they transited the Northeast Passage (first by a yacht) and in 2001-2002 they transited the Northwest Passage.


  • J.M. MacFarlane (1992) Northwest Passage Challengers.In Resolution. Spring Issue. Maritime Museum of British Columbia;
  • Sale, Richard (2002);
  • Vaughan, Richard (1994);
  • Lalor, William G. (1959) Submarine Through The North Pole. In The National Geographic. Vol. CXV, No. 1 January 1959;
  • Sven Johansson Victoria BC;
  • Struzik, Edward. (1991);
  • Storrs, A.H.G. and T.C. Pullen. (1970);
  • Smith, William D. (1970);
  • Robinson, J. Lewis. (1945);
  • Robertson, O.C.S. (1964);
  • Rasmussen, Knud (1927);
  • Pullen, T.C. & C. Swithenbank (1990);
  • Pharand, D. (1984);
  • Nuligak (1966);
  • McKinlay, William Laird. (1976);
  • McGrath, Robin (1989);
  • Marshall, C.J. (1958);
  • MacInnis, Jeff (1989);
  • Larsen, Henry A. (1954);
  • Larsen, Henry A., Frank Sheer & Edward Omholt-Jensen (1967);
  • Kemp, Peter (Ed.) (1976);
  • Keating, Bern (1970);
  • Harding, Les (1991);
  • Hancock, Lyn, (1974);
  • French, Alice (1976);
  • Fillmore, Stanley and R.W. Sandilands (1983);
  • de Roos, Willy (1977);
  • de Poncins, Gontrans (1954);
  • Coast Guard Northern Arctic Operations Division (1991)

To quote from this article please cite:

MacFarlane, John M. (1990 - Revised 1995, 2011 & 2012) Transits of the North East Passage. 2012.


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