The ice breaker Kapitan Khlebnikov was built 25 years ago by Finland for the Soviet Union. Since it was built, it has had
the same captain continuously. We chose to go on this ship because it is unique in its ability to crash through ice and go
much further south than the Antarctic Circle. 30,000 people a year visit "Antarctica". Most never make it to the Antarctic
Circle. Only 500 people a year make it to the Ross Sea. We were probably the only ship in the Ross Sea this December.
Because the ship is an ice breaker, it could literally ram itself into the ice and let us disembark via the gang plank (above).
The Southern Ocean is by far the most
tempestuous on Earth. It is also one of
the least well charted owing to the
comparatively few vessels which travel
Because the Kapitan Khlebnikov is an
ice breaker, it behaves terribly in
troubled water. Modern icebreakers
have no external stabilizers . These
would either be broken themselves or
seriously impede the ice breaking
process. Moreover, the flat bottom
adds to its instability in open waters.
Once we entered the pack ice, the
water became calm. On our trip down
we were favored with fairly good
weather, but even then the boat rocked
quite a bit. Coming back was a different
story with swells of at least 20 feet and
rocking to 35 degrees.
The ship has two
Russian built helicopters
which carry eight
passengers each and
which were flown by two
Russian helicopter pilots
(note helicopter in photo
The ship also carried
Zodiaks which were
used for tours and to get
Passengers were permitted on the bridge at any time except in foul weather.
Below is a picture of the Russian crew
which piloted the ship from the Bridge.
The captain is the gentleman on the
Photo taken at 10:30 p.m.