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Russia’s Northern Fleet embarks on large-scale expedition to Arctic

The expedition will last six weeks

MOSCOW, August 15. /TASS/. The Russian Northern Fleet’s vessel Altai has set off for a large-scale expedition to the Franz Josef Land with scientists and military specialists on its board to carry out geographical and archeological explorations, the Fleet’s press office reported on Thursday.

"The vessel has entered the Barents Sea, heading northwest towards the Franz Josef Land. The vessel embarks specialists of the hydrographical service, the Northern Fleet’s search, rescue and emergency group and a guard unit to protect explorers from wild animals upon landings on the islands," the press office said in a statement.

The expedition also includes representatives of Russia’s Geographical Society and the Russian Arctic national park.

As the plans suggest, specialists will be carrying out geographical and archaeological explorations on the Arctic archipelago’s islands for about a month and a half. The Northern Fleet’s explorers will partially follow the path-breakers’ routes: the expeditions by Julius Payer in 1874 and by Frederick Jackson in 1897 and the rescue expedition by Russian navigator Valerian Albanov.

The Northern Fleet’s expedition members will hold a series of historical and patriotic actions to mark 105 years since the first raising of the Russian empire’s flag and 90 years since the first hoisting of the Soviet flag over the Franz Josef Land Archipelago.

"During the expedition, hydrographers will determine the state of the coastline in the areas where glaciers’ melting has made it possible to study earlier inaccessible terrain and explore blank spots still remaining on maps," the Fleet said.

The Franz Josef Land is Russia’s northernmost territory and makes a part of the Arkhangelsk Region. The archipelago consists of 192 islands, the largest of which is Zemlya Georga. The Alexandra Land accommodates the Northern Fleet’s Arctic Trefoil military base.