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Russia's Pacific Fleet prepares for research expedition to Kuril Ridge island

November 25, 2016, 9:30 UTC+3 KHABAROVSK
The second scientific-research expedition to the Matua Island of the Kuril Ridge is due between June and September, 2017
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The Matua Island

The Matua Island

© Andrey Gorban/Russia's Defense Ministry

KHABAROVSK, November 25. /TASS/. The second scientific-research expedition to the Matua Island of the Kuril Ridge is due between June and September, 2017, Commander of the Eastern Military District Colonel-General Sergei Surovikin told a meeting of the Military District’s council on Friday.

"The Pacific Fleet has started preparations for the second scientific-research expedition to the Matua Island, which will take place from June through to September, 2017," he said. "We are working on a detailed plan for examining the Kuril island, choose the staff and equipment, necessary for the research," he said, adding "results of the first expedition are still to be analyzed thoroughly."

The first joint expedition of the Russian Defense Ministry and the Russian Geographical Society was in 2016. The Eastern Military District and the Pacific Fleet participated in that expedition. "The key objective of the expedition trip was to study possible opportunities for future base of the Pacific Fleet, but, besides, servicemen jointly with experts of the Russian Geographical Society have made certain unique works of historical and practical value," the commander said. More than 200 people participated in that expedition.

Kuril Ridge citadel island

In the beginning of World War II, Japan turned the Matua Island into a sound citadel, which added to the natural fortifications on the island, which has many natural forts, mines, grottos, two runways heated by thermal springs, and a road to the volcano.

In summer 2016, specialists made more than 1,000 laboratory tests in physics, chemistry and biology research. They made radiation and chemical analysis of more than 120km of the route, studied all fortification facilities and more than 100 historical objects. Divers studied Matua’ bays and inlets. The expedition was exploring fortifications and preparing the coast in Dvoinaya Harbor to let an amphibious ship come close enough to deliver equipment, vehicles and materials.

According to earlier reports, the mission had explored Matua to assess the condition of the runway and deployed mobile equipment and instruments needed for making flights to and from the island. The airfield’s drainage system has been cleaned and the surface prepared for accommodating any types of helicopters. The airdrome has two concrete and asphalted runways each 1,200 meters long and 80 meters wide.

Scientific expeditions to Matua had not been organized since 1813. After the expeditions to the island, the Russian Geographic Society will publish a journal on the nature and history and will make several maps - landscape, soil and of natural hazards.

The Matua Island is located in the middle of the Kuril Ridge. At the beginning of World War II Japan turned the island into a major stronghold making the best possible use of its natural features, such as rugged terrain.

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