Timeline of Franz Josef Land


This subpage is an attempt of creating a chronicle for Franz Josef Land, in which for year after year, the corresponding events are included. 

Errors ?  Additions?  Pictures? I am pleased with competent Opens internal link in current window Comments and contacts !

A summary of the history of Franz Josef Land can be found on the subpage Opens internal link in current window History . 

For the individual islands, historical informations can be found under Opens internal link in current window  Islands .



A Neolithic discovery of Franz Josef Land is conceivable, however, there is no archaeological evidence for this. Reindeer apparently have migrated over the sea ice from Siberia probably several times into Franz Josef Land, and have lived there for millennia, as evidenced by old reindeer antlers (which could be dated), when after the last ice age, the climate was milder and the land ice cover of the islands was less. The reindeer could have been followed by stone age hunters over the sea ice on the same routes. 
See: Opens internal link in current window Possible earlier discoveries and climate change .


1614 - Baffin

the English polar explorer Baffin may have been the first, when he reported the discovery of land east of the Svalbard archipelago, which may have been Franz Josef Land, but the location information and the description are too imprecise for a definite identification.
See also: Opens internal link in current window Possible earlier explorers and climate change .


1675 - Cornelis Roule

The Dutch navigator Cornelis Roule reported in 1675 an allegedly discovered new land northeast of the Svalbard archipelago - but at 85 ° N, ie, about 300 km north of the northernmost point of Franz Josef Land. By late 17th century, the latitudes could be determined already relatively accurately on ships, so this tremendous deviation from all eligible arctic land masses gives reason for some doubts about the credibility. At 85°N, we are in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, all soundings there show deep sea and are dense enough to rule out the existence of land there.

See: Opens internal link in current window Possible earlier discoveries and climate change .


1865 - Rønnbeck/Aidijärvi, SPIDSBERGEN

The Norwegian Arctic skipper Rønnbeck from Hammerfest and his Sami harpooner Aidijärvi report for 1865 the sighting of land east of the Spitsbergen archipelago, which may have been a part of Franz Josef Land. Here as well, however, sufficiently accurate position information or identifiably detailed descriptions are lacking.

First landfall - during polar night.
Map by the Tegetthoff Expedition.
WILLEM BARENTS within sight of the southernmost islands of Franz Josef Land.
EIRA between Bell and Mabel Island.
Map by Leigh Smith after the 1880 expedition.
Rescue of material from sinking EIRA,
kitchen of the improvised cabin.
Reconstruction 2011 of the position of EIRA Cottage, now lost to erosion, by means of still existing neighbouring boulders and an old photo by Jackson.


1873 - Payer-Weyprecht, TEGETTHOFF

On 30 August 1873, the crew of the Austro-Hungarian TEGETTHOFF expedition, originally meant to find the North-East-Passage but trapped on their ship in the drifting ice since about a year, sighted land from a long distance for the first time - the area around present-day Cape Tegetthoff on Opens internal link in current window Hall Island .
Only months later, the ice around them froze sufficiently together, so that the visible islands could be reached on foot. The first landfall was made during the polar night on Opens internal link in current window Wilczek Island.


1874 - Payer-Weyprecht, TEGETTHOFF

During spring 1874, several sled expeditions led by Julius Payer set out to explore the newly discovered archipelago from the TEGETTHOFF, which was still locked in the sea ice south of Opens internal link in current window Wilczek Island. This exploration had to be done in a few weeks time available until the sea ice would become unsecure - with impressive results: in particular, a stripe from south to north through the whole archipelago leading up to  Opens internal link in current window Rudolf Island in the farest north was mapped, and afterwards parts of the south from Opens internal link in current window McClintock Island to Opens internal link in current window Wilczek Land. However, the TEGETTHOFF expedition considered the newly discovered land as much larger, especially to the north ("Petermann Land" and the West ("Zichy Land") than it actually is, which in consequence attracted further expeditions, trying to utilize the supposed land bridge as a route to the North Pole.
Since the TEGETTHOFF continued to be trapped in the ice, in which it was already imprisoned since 1872, she was abandoned by the expedition members in late spring of 1874, who dragged the ship's boats over the ice until they reached open water, and were finally rescued at Novaya Zemlya. The further fate of the crewless TEGETTHOFF is unknown: no parts have ever been found.


1879 De Bruyne, WILLEM BARENTS

The Dutch navy lieutenant de Bruyne tried in 1879, to reach at the end of his expedition in the Barents Sea also Franz Josef Land, with the relatively small sailing ship WILLEM BARENTS. Indeed, the expedition managed to come within good sight of the south coast.  Extremely difficult ice conditions, for which the vessel was poorly suited, prevented a further approach and landings, and forced it to retreat. From today's perspective, this result may appear disappointing -  but in 1879, this was an important success. Because the prevailing view of the time was, that Franz Josef Land could be a promising destination and start point towards the Pole, especially because of the huge landmasses, which Payer in 1874 believed to have seen, but at the same time, it was assumed so far, that the new territories could be reached only by an unpredictable ice drift (as demonstrated unvoluntarily by the TEGETTHOFF) with high risk of losses - not an inviting option. De Bruyne proved, that even a small ship like the WILLEM BARENTS was able to accomplish the feat of sailing there in a controlled way - an incentive for further expeditions with vessels more suitable for such ice conditions.


1880 - Leigh Smith, EIRA

The Englishman Benjamin Leigh Smith reached on his private polar research vessel EIRA the south of Franz Josef Land in 1880 and mapped the until then mostly unknown western south coast of the archipelago from what is today  Opens internal link in current window McClintock Island to Opens internal link in current window Prince George Land. Some capes of today's Opens internal link in current window Alexandra Land were seen and for the first time ever, a ship penetrated somewhat deeper into the archipelago, finding out that at least the south consists of mostly relatively small islands. But nevertheless, Payer´s idea of a huge newly discovered land mass of unknown extent to the north and west survived, also on Leigh Smith's map (see right), regarding the so far explored islands but as small outposts. Again, this trip proved that Franz Josef Land can be reached by motorized sailships in the summer.


1881 - Leigh Smith, EIRA

In 1881, Benjamin Leigh Smith returned with the EIRA on another private expedition to Franz Josef Land, intending to carry out here the first planned wintering, for which on Opens internal link in current window  Bell Island, Camp EIRA was built as a winter station, then exploring the south-western coasts further during summer 1811. On August 16th, Leigh Smith set out with the EIRA to take part in the search for possible survivors of the JEANETTE expedition, but was held back by too heavy ice. Laying off Cape Flora ( Opens internal link in current window  Northbrook Island ) secured to the land ice, the EIRA did not manage anymore to escape an approaching ice field, which pressed her close to the shore against the land ice and finally made her sink, but until then, a considerable quantity of materials and equipment could be salvaged, including the 5 life boats. Under summer conditions with dense drift ice, Camp EIRA, though almost within sight, was out of reach for the small life boats with all the material, while it was equally uncertain, whether and when in winter a sufficienly solid ice cover would extend all the way there to Bell Island. Therefore, the 25-member expedition set up a cabin at Cape Flora, made of collected stones and materials salvaged from the ship as a highly improvised wintering base. The precise position of this "Eira Cottage" could be located by Susan Barr and others in 1996, when one wall was still standing, and in August 2011 by SHOKALSKIY expedition leader Andreas Umbreit - by then, all of Eira Cottage was taken by the sea, but it was possible to identify the former position with the help of some stones visible both on an old picture and in the terrain (see image collage). Accordingly, a retreat of the coastline by at least 30m has to be assumed from 1881 to 2011 due to coastal erosion.
As the EIRA sank in fairly shallow coastal waters, the wreck has been smashed into tiny pieces most likely since by more than 130 years of driftice and growlers scrapping over it, with metal remains probably spread and pressed into the sea bottom by the same forces.


1882 - Leigh Smith

The Leigh Smith expedition, wintering involuntarily at Opens internal link in current window Cape Flora, could bring their lifeboats into the water on June 23rd after the ice had broken off the coast, and reached after 43 days of arduous journey between the ice floes the western entrance of the Matochkin Char strait in Novaya Zemlya - a traditional meeting place of the whalers and Arctic hunters.  There, both the WILLEM BARENTS and the english whaler HOPE found the expedition group, which did not have a single casualty during their odyssee.



For 1886, the visits of a British (captain: Gray) and a Norwegian (ØRNEN, captain: Virkola) vessel in Franz Josef Land are known, which operated there and in the Barents Sea for commercial hunting.


The map (click) shows the knowledge about Franz Josef Land at the time of Jackson´s arrival.
Cape Flora with WINDWARD.
Jackson´s base "Elmwood" on Cape Flora.
Nansen´s and Johansen´s creep-in during polar night.

1894 Jackson, WINDWARD

After 14 days within sight of Franz Josef Land, but dense drift-ice hindering them to get closer, the WINDWARD with the british Jackson-Harmsworth expedition on board, finally reached Opens internal link in current windowKap Flora, on September 9th 1894, where it set up its base, mostly using prefabricated elements. Main aim of the expedition, contrary to its successors, was not so much the North Pole, but mainly the mapping of the archipelago. Leader was Major Frederick G. Jackson, who had prepared himself for this by a longer stay with the siberian Samoyeds in 1893. Sponsor was the british publisher Alfred Harmsworth. Over the winter, the WINDWARD stayed off the coast frozen in the sea ice, while the remaining time of 1894 was used both for completing the base and for exploratory tours.



Jackson-Harmsworth Expedition:
In spring 1895, a long excursion with ponies pulling the sledges led to today´s Cape Huge Mill on Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterJackson Island, during which the east side of the British Channel was mapped. On July 1st, WINDWARD left Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterKap Flora, to return to England, while Jackson stayed behind with his 7 men, exploring the coastline to the northwest almost to Cape Mary Harmsworth (Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterAlexandra Land) in the course of summer.

Nansen and Johansen:
March 14th, 1895, Nansen and Johansen had left the FRAM on its drift across the polar basin, when it became obvious that the ship would stay far south of North Pole. They tried to reach the pole with a few dogs, sledges and kayaks. A bit north of 86°N, they had to abandon this attempt, turning south - knowing that they hardly would find the FRAM again in this drifting ice desert. Instead, the extensive land masses, marked on the map of Payer north of Franz Josef Land, were their new aim, and from there, they wanted to follow the ice edge in their kayaks to Spitsbergen.
July 24th, they discovered glacer-covered land ahead of them. Having failed to wind up their watch in time, they lacked exact time of the day and therefore, they could not determine their longitude, while neither the island ahead nor any of the other islands apearing later, would match anything on the maps of Payer or Spitsbergen. Accordingly, they had no idea about where they were. After all, at that time, there were still a number of mystic lands and islands stated vaguely on the arctic charts of the region ("Gillis Land", "Oscar Land", "Petermann Land"). In reality, they had reached some still unknown islands in the furthest northeast of Franz-Josef-Land, which they named after Nansen´s wife and daughter Liv and Eva, collectively Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterHvidtenland (White Land). From there, they headed westwards, crossing without knowing the route of Payer near  Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterHochstetter and Torup Island. Following the next isles along their northwest shores, they reached a cape on August 26th (later named Cape Norway/Norvegia) on Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterJackson Island, which seemed suitable to them for a wintering, because much open water and increasingly unsafe ice impeded their advance, making it unlikely that they would be able to reach Spitsbergen within the remaining time before the next polar night. In a primitive shelter, with walls of rock debries, a driftwood log as roof beam and walrus hides as roof cover, they spent the winter. Luckily, there were good hunting possibilities supplying them with plenty of meat and walrus fat served as fuel for both heating and cooking.


Reenacted meeting of Jackson and Nansen on the sea ice off Cape Flora.
Nansen´s map of Franz Josef Land after the integration of the extensife results of Jackson.
WINDWARD at Cape Flora.


Jackson-Harmsworth Expedition:
Again, spring was used for another extensive sledge journey, which explored especially the area of the smaller islands between Markham Sound and Young Sound (Opens internal link in current windowKoettlitz Island to Opens internal link in current windowPritchett Island), as well as parts of the west side of Opens internal link in current windowGeorge Land , but was impeded by loss of ponies and ice problems. Summer 1896 was used for a range of geological, botanic and zoological studies.
On June 17th, the famous meeting with Nansen took place (see next passage), and on July 26th, finally the WINDWARD arrived with supplies and post, on which then Nansen, Johansen and two expedition members departed, taking along numerous collected samples, while Jackson and the remaining men prepared their third wintering.

May 19th, Nansen and Johansen left their wintering site and continued their advance southwards, partly kayakking, partly on the ice. On June 17th, the famous meeting occurred on the ice off Opens internal link in current windowCape Flora, after the Norwegians had heard some dog barking, while Jackson was told by one of his men about a single person approaching out on the ice. Jackson approached the stranger and only slowly, he started realising who that this filthy, longhaired tall person could be: "You must be Nansen !" After having fetched also Johansen and a welcome bath, the meeting scene was reenacted for photos.
For Nansen and Johansen, this meeting was probably the rescue - and this by Jackson, whose application for the FRAM expedition had been rejected by Nansen for nationalistic reasons (only Norwegians welcome). Because on their own, the two men would hardly have made it all the way to Spitsbergen along the difficult ice edge. Only through Jackson and his maps, they realised, where they actually were and the discoveries of the two Norwegians were integrated into a joint revised map of Franz Josef Land. By that, the assumed huge land masses of Payer to the north ("Petermann Land"), east of Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterRudolf Island (continuation of Opens internal link in current windowWilczek Land to Petermann Land) turned out to seemingly have been only fata morganas. Now, only the extension of Franz Josef Land to northwest and west, as well as east of Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterWilczek Land. remained as bigger open cartographic questions.
On August 7th, Nansen and Johansen could leave Cape Flora with the WINDWARD, which made an extra detour for them to drop them in Vardø in northern Norway - arriving there almost at the same time as the FRAM, which also had finished successfully its drift across the Arctic Ocean.

Further ship calls in 1896:
The norwegian hunting vessels MODEREN and DUEN operated in summer 1896 in the area of Franz Josef Land, but without meeting the Jackson expedition.


Overnight camp of Jackson and Armitage at Cape Crowther (George Land) on the last big sledge voyage in spring 1897.
Jackson´s map, with the results of 1897 included. See the differences to the map of 1894, showing the known and assumed parts of the archipelago at the time of Jackson´s arrival 1894 (further up on this page).
Cape Flora from above with Jackson´s base "Elmwood", named after the residence of expedition sponsor Alfred Harmsworth.
Jackson in Elmwood (Cape Flora).

1897: Jackson

After his own and Nansen´s observations had proven sufficiently, that Franz Josef Land had only a limited extension towards Northeast, and was charted in that direction, Jackson set out in spring 1897 to the longest sledge journey of his three years in the archipelago with his last pony to the Northwest, which had been tempting for him already during the previous years. On March 15th, Jackson and Armitage started northwards on the British Channel and explored anti-clockwise the north of  Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterGeorge Land (wrongly conceiving its low northernmost peninsula to be a separate island: snowcovered land and sea-ice with snowdrifts are often difficult to distinguish), then following the northern shore of Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterAlexandra Land to its westernmost end, surveyed its southern coasts on land, which they had mapped already from sea, penetrated into Cambridge Bay and returned finally via southern George Land to Opens internal link in current windowCape Flora. This journey confirmed Jackson´s assumption from 1896, that western Franz Josef Land is considerably smaller than assumed by his predecessors, that its extension in northern direction is far more limited than Payer suggested with King Oscar Land on his map, that Cape Mary Harmsworth is the westernmost point (thereby no further extension towards Spitsbergen), and that also this western part of Franz Josef Land is divided into several islands. For the westernmost island, Jackson kept the name  Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterAlexandra Land , thus needing a further name for the other island to its east (the biggest of the whole archipelago):  Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterPrince George Land. More about these two islands: see  Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterIslands.
Jackson´s hope for another (fourth) year for completing the mapping of Franz Josef Land and also an advance northwards on a route more to the west of Nansen´s, vanished with the arrival of the WINDWARD in summer 1897, which brought no new animals for pulling the sledges, but instead instructions to end the expedition. At least, he could make a detour with the WINDWARD on the return voyage by first sailing another 50 nautical miles northwestwards from Cape Mary Harmsworth without sighting any new land. This proved that there could not be a mystic Gillies Land of significant extension between Spitsbergen and Franz Josef Land.

Though Jackson could not finalise the hoped-for completion of the mapping of Franz Josef Land, his three years there (plus the supplements by Nansen) changed the perception of the archipelago and this part of the high Arctic radically: Franz Josef Land turned out to be of relatively modest extension, broken up into a large number of separate Islands. No vast new territory, no land bridges towards the North Pole. And contrary to most of his successors, proper scientific work within the archipelago was the main objective for Jackson and his sponsor Harmsworth, not so much a participation in the race to the North Pole. In addition to cartography, the expedition undertook extensive studies of geology, botany, zoology, marine biology, oceanography and meteorology of the archipelago. These objectives were also reflected in the composition of his team with specialists for the various scientific disciplines, and the set goals could be mostly reached. In view of these achievements, the Jackson expedition surely deserves more honouring and publicity, than a number of other expeditions, which focussed on the race to the North Pole - a priority of far less scientific value - and which failed not only with this main objective, but also brought only limited scientific results back home.
For Jackson´s successors, the only bigger white spots still remaining on the map of Franz Josef Land, were the easternmost part of the archipelago and some hidden central areas north of Markham Sound.
Jackson was very satisfied with his use of ponies for pulling sledges on his expedition, while the attempt with reindeers delivered by the WINDWARD in 1896, turned out to be hopeless. Scott adopted Jackson´s concept with ponies for his South Pole expedition - and one of the reasons for his catastrophy there was, that ponies turned out to be less suitable under the conditions of Antarctica.

Other 1897 ship activities in Franz Josef Land:
In 1897, Franz Josef Land was visited also by three british hunting vessels: The BALAENA under Captain Thomas Robertson, hunting walrusses, visited also Jackson on Cape Flora and informed him about two small islands discovered by Robertson on the east side of Opens internal link in current windowNorthbrook Island - one of them, Jackson named after Robertson. The other two british vessels were the DIANA and the ACTIVE, as well as a norwegian hunting vessel.
Later, William Speirs Bruce, a scientist of the Jackson expedition, became leader of the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition of 1904, and for this, Thomas Robertson applied to Bruce successfully for becoming captain of the expedition vessel.


"Harmsworth House", Wellman´s base on Cape Tegetthoff, was named by him after the sponsor of the Jackson expedition 1894-97, because Wellman relocated the building from the Jackson site on Cape Flora to Cape Tegetthoff. Picture: August 1898, right after the station was installed.
"Fort McKinley" - a somewhat bombastic name for the depot and its primitive shelter cabin, presented in this contemporary drawing probably a bit more pleasant than it was in reality. The Norwegians Bentson and Bjørvig spent the winter here under most primitive conditions, during which Bentsen died.


Wellman North Pole Expedition
The US-american journalist and polar explorer Walter Wellman started in 1898 his second attempt to reach the Pole, this time from Franz Josef Land. With the norwegian motor sailship FRITHJOF, first Opens internal link in current windowCape Flora was visited, where they dismantled one of the prefabricated buildings of Jackson and relocated it to Cape Tegetthoff (Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterHall Insel). Also in 1898, the advance to the Pole, projected for the following year, was prepared by setting out an advanced depot along the planned route on Cape Heller (Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterWilczek Land), including the construction of a primitive shelter cabin, manned over the winter by the Norwegians Bentsen and Bjørvig. It is this incredible wintering of the two (in the course of which Bentsen died), what is remembered mainly today about the Wellman expedition nowadays.
WeitereMore details about this wintering and pictures of the remains of the Wellman bases: see  Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterWilczek Land for Cape Heller and Opens internal link in current windowHall Island for Cape Tegetthoff.
The other members of the expedition wintered fairly comfortably on Cape Tegetthoff, preparing the planned start from there towards the Pole for 1899.

VICTORIA (Pike), Johannes Nilsen and Ludvig Bernard Sebulonsen
British Arnold Pike, wealthy and fascinated by the Arctic, had his yacht VICTORIA in Spitsbergen also during summer 1898. From here, he made use of her and the favourable ice conditions of that summer under command of the ice-experienced captain Nilsen for an advance eastwards, beyond Kvitøya (White lsland) as the easternmost outpost of Spitsbergen, where they sighted Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterVictoria Island, which in fact had been seen already on the previous day, July 20th, by the norwegian seal hunters  Johannes Nilsen and Ludvig Bernard Sebulonsen from their small vessel. Even though Pike thereby was not the first, the new island was named after his ship VICTORIA, nevertheless.

Other ships in 1898:
Due to especially navigable ice conditions in its waters, Franz Josef Land was visited in 1898 by a number of hunting vessels: again the british BALAENA, and from Norway the HERTHA, NORA, VENUS and INGEBORG, plus possibly some more: for instance, it is unknown, which ship the discoveres of Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterVictoria Island, Johannes Nilsen and Ludvig Bernard Sebulonsen, were sailing with.


In early spring, Wellman on the march towards the pole, reached the cache set up on Cape Heller in the previous year, with its primitive shelter hidden under a snowdrift, and the surviving winterer Bjørvig.
Wellman´s expedition map with the sledge tours and the routes of the CAPELLA within the archipelago. To the north some islands, which later turned out to have been illusions.
The STELLA POLARE in Teplitz Bay - damaged, pushed into shallow coastal water and then bent over by ice pressure. On shore a part of the wintering station and the tent for the ponies, and to the very right the material storage and one of the dog houses.

1899: Wellman, Duke of the Abruzzi (STELLA POLARE)

Wellman´s North Pole Expedition
After the return of the light in February 1899, Wellman set out with his team onto the planned sledge tour to the North Pole, heading first for the cache at Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterKap Heller. Bentsen, the one of the two guards there, who had died during the polar night there January 2nd, was buried on that occasion, while the other guard, Bjørvig, joined the North Pole attempt. However, Wellman broke his leg in an accident on the east side of Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterRudolf Island, which forced them to give up their pole ambitions and return to Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterCape Tegetthoff, where Wellman was confined to the camp until the arrival of the relief vessel, as he was not able to walk properly anymore after his accident.
Having failed with the main objective of the expedition, the new aim was to make the best of the situation by exploring yet unknown parts of the archipelago - and for this, Cape Tegetthoff in the southeast of Franz Josef Land was favourably located: anything beyond of the southwest coast of nearby  Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterWilczek-Land was still completely unknown. A sledge expedition led by Baldwin headed eastwards in spring 1899 and explored the east and north side of Wilczek Land, which turned out to be considerably smaller than assumed so far. Furthermore, the previously unknown, big Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterGraham-Bell-Island was found, crossed and partly surrounded, but the mapping resulting out of this was surprisingly inaccurate, as a comparison of the chart of Wellman with modern maps reveals.

In the North, Wellman´s map still shows some assumed islands, which the expedition claimed to have seen and which were recognized as illusions only by later other expeditions.
Another sledge tour in spring, led by Baldwin, headed westwards around the south of Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterHall Island and then northwards through Negri Channel to Cape Copeland in the north of Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterMcClintock Island.
Utilising the relief ship CAPELLA, the expedition entered the southern interior of the archipelago in summer 1899, to have a closer look at the group of smaller islands between Nansen and Brice Island, which until then only Jackson had touched briefly during his sledge tour in spring 1896. This was the first intrusion so deep into the narrower sounds of central Franz Josef Land by a research expedition on a ship under summerly conditions. Contrary to sledge tours on frozen and snowcovered sounds, where the borderline between sea and shore, hidden under snow, is often hardly visible, it was much easier to realize from aboard a vessel, that this part of the archipelago is split up into a number of small isles, located closely together: Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterNansen Island, Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterPritchett Island, Bromwich Island, Brice Island and Bliss Island.
During a final swing northwards into Britannia Channel, the CAPELLA and Wellman met the arriving STELLA POLARE, while the Wellman expedition then left Franz Josef Land southwards.
As with all his 5 North Pole attempts between 1894 and 1909, Wellman failed to achieve the main objective, the North Pole. However, this voyage at least did contribute to the exploration of Franz Josef Land by solving the last open major geographical question there: the eastward extension of the archipelago, plus the filling of some further smaller white spots on the map.

Hunting vessels 1899 Franz Josef Land
Again, some small norwegian hunting vessels visited the archipelago: AVANCE and MARIE

Luigi Amadeo di Savoia, Duke of the Abruzzi, close relative of the spanish and the italian king, set out on several expeditions during his life, including his 1899/1900 Franz-Josef-Land expedition, which was meant to both reaching the North Pole and further exploring the arctic archipelago - with emphasis on geophysical, meteorological and biological issues. For this purpose, he acquired the norwegian whaling vessel Jason, a strongly built motorized sailing ship, which was converted into the STELLA POLARE expedition vessel. In 1899, ice conditons in Franz Josef Land were unusually pleasant again, allowing the STELLA POLARE (after a brief coincidental meeting with Wellman`s CAPELLA in the Britannia Channel) to sail all the way up to 82° 4´N, after having done some minor supplementary mapping of some last white spots on the charts of the area of Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterKarl-Alexander Island. Finally, she anchored in Teplitz Bay of  Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterRudolf Island, where the wintering base was set up on shore: living quarters, a big tent sturdy enough for winter conditions to accomodate the ponies, several dog houses and the constructions for the scientific observation instruments.
During the polar night, ice pressures damaged the STELLA POLARE, but luckily pushed her also into shallow coastal water,  where she was both evacuated and repaired again in an improvised way. All 20 expedition members including the norwegian crew moved into the land station, where in addition to the daily chores and research work, the dark period was utilised for preparation for the sledge expedition to the North Pole in spring.



The texts for the following years will be added step-wise. Some of them not available here, yet, might be included already in the German version. Check and try an automatic translation, for instance with the translation function of Google. This provides partly strange results, but better than nothing.


In August 2012, the national park administration installed a small new summer research base near Cape Flora.
Also in 2012, the last remains of "Kane Lodge" were rediscovered on Greely Island (see there).


Permanently manned stations:

The research base Krenkel on Opens internal link in current windowHayes Island and the border guard base  Nagurskoe on Opens internal link in current windowAlexandra Land were in operation all year round.

Removal of pollutants:

The removal of the worst environmental sins from soviet days in Franz Josef Land, prepared over several years and started in earnest in 2011, was in full swing in 2012. Around the old stations Nagurskoe (Opens internal link in current windowAlexandra Land) and Krenkel (Opens internal link in current windowHayes Island), plus the former airforce bases on Graham Bell Land and Hoffmann Island, huge numbers of rusting fuel and lubricant barrels were emptied and then crunched, and then both the dangerous liquids and the collected scrap were picked up by the supply ship SOMOV to the russian mainland. Also the area of the Sedov Station in Tikhaya Bay on Hooker Island was cleaned up and waste was taken to the mainland from there, as well. The project is intended to be continued in 2013.
Here a video showing the cleaning work in 2011:
Opens external link in new windowwww.youtube.com/watch?v=vU4cC0oNNjU

National Park Administration:

In addition to sending inspectors on the various touristic cruises to Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya, and the various summer research, maintenance and cleaning work in the area of the summer bases Sedov (Opens internal link in current windowHooker Island) and Cape Zhelania (Novaya Zemlya), the national park administration utilized the research vessel PROFESSOR MOLCHANOV and a chartered sailing yacht for a range of research and surveillance projects all over the national park area during the summer. Assisted by the supply vessel SOMOV, a small auxiliary summer station was set up near Opens internal link in current windowCape Flora, made of three 20ft accomodation containers.


Rediscovery of "Kane Lodge" of the Baldwin-Ziegler Expedition (1901/02): On August 28th, following a request by Andreas Umbreit during the second cruise of the ORTELIUS, the location of Kane Lodge, one of the major caches (including even a prefabricated cabin) of the Baldwin-Ziegler Expedition from 1902 could be rediscovered on Opens internal link in current windowGreely Island. A quick photographic documentation of the remaining objects there could be done. Due to the obvious and immediate natural threats to the site by pushing drift ice, breakers and rock fall, the national park administration was informed immediately, which then took further steps in September to rescue the valuable findings. More: see Opens internal link in current windowGreely Island.

Regatta Adventure Race 80 dg: Organised first time in 2011, this regatta took place again in 2012, with the russian PETR I and the german LUNA as participating vessels. In addition to the actual competition sailing on the leg from Arkhangelsk to 80°N (including a major storm on the way across the Barents Sea) and then back again to Murmansk, the program included a joint visit to Franz Josef Land, with a stopover at Cape Fisher (Opens internal link in current windowSalisbury Island) and a landing at the abandoned station at Teplitz Bay (Opens internal link in current windowRudolf Island), plus an advance to 82°18´N as the northernmost position, north of the archipelago.

Extraordinary ice situation: Already by late July, sea ice was gone almost all over the archipelago, except of some minor driftice fields in the far northeast until mid-August, which then melted away, too. In late summer, the ice border had retreated far beyond 82°N, far away from the northernmost islands of Franz Josef Land.
See ice charts also in comparison with previous years: Opens internal link in current windowhere. (lower part of that page).

Touristic ship calls:

Due to the unusually easy ice conditions, sea ice was no obstacle for routes and landings in summer 2012 - contrary to wind and fog.
All in all, 11 touristic cruises (including the nuclear icebreaker tours to the North Pole with just minor stopovers in Franz Josef Land, not including the small sailing yachts of the regatta) were offered to Franz Josef Land in 2012, with a total maximal capacity for up to 1050 visitors. However, of these, 3 were cancelled or rerouted well in advance due to insufficient bookings (NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORER, SHOKALSKIY, 2nd announced cruise of the KAPITAN DRANITSYN), while the remaining voyages were partly only moderately booked, leading to an estimated number of maybe 650 tourists visiting the archipelago in 2012.
Thus, 2012 has clearly shown the limited market for travel to this extreme and less known arctic destination. At the same time, the russian Arctic is considerably more demanding and risky for the tour operators regarding logistics and bureaucratic surprises, than for instance Greenland or Spitsbergen. For instance, several cruises in 2012 lost half a day each in Franz Josef Land, because the russian navy decided pretty spontaneously to block the entrance of Murmansk Fjord repeatedly for manouvers - this is one of the three largest ports of Russia. Imagine a spontaneous blockade of the Hudson River or the Thames by the US or respectively the Royal Navy for military exercises.
The result of both limited request and uncalculable bureaucracy plus higher costs is, that none of the arctic touristic tour operators offers any Franz Josef Land cruise in 2013 (except of the North Pole cruises and the Arctic Race sailing regatta, which both touch the archipelago only briefly), as there is sufficient request under more calculable frame conditions for alternative destinations like Spitsbergen or Greenland.
Following the expedition cruises to Franz Josef Land in 2012, sorted by departure date:

KAPITAN DRANITSYN - 11 days Franz-Josef-Land from/to Murmansk July 18-28i 2012, from ca. 8900 € per person from/to Kirkenes plus evtl. fuel surcharges. About. 77 passengers, expedition leader Sepp Friedhuber. Two small Mi-2 helicopters and 5 zodiacs for excursions. Further details about the cruises are still lacking. Tour operator, ship and expedition leader have been heading for Franz Josef Land repeatedly before.

50 LET POBEDY - North Pole cruises with this nuclear-powered icebreaker, with stopovers in Franz Josef Land on the way up and down.
3 cruises in 2012: July 19 -August 01, July 30 - August 12 August 10 -August 23 (all including arrival and departure day, the actual cruise then starts and ends in Murmansk), from 14800 € per person. Expedition leader Jan Bryde. Bordhubschrauber und Schlauchboote. Nähere Details zum Ablauf fehlen noch. Veranstalter, Schiff (bzw. auch dessen Vorgänger) und Expeditionsleiter waren bereits mehrfach in Franz-Josef-Land.

BREMEN - 24 days cruise from/to Tromsø 25. 07. - 18. 08. 2012, from ca. 14700 € per person. Actual route and wildlife sightings not reported - intended were landings at the siberian coast, on Novaya Zemlya, Severnaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land. According to rumors, no landings could be achieved on Severnaya Zemlya - first hand informations welcome ! First cruise of tour operator, ship and expedition leader to these destinations.

SILVER EXPLORER - 19 days cruise from/to Tromsø, 01. 08. - 19. 08. 2012, from ca. € 12700 per person. Expedition leader Robin West. White Sea, Novaya Zemlya (1 day, landing Russian Harbour, other landings impossible due to storm), Franz Josef Land (4 days - landings: Wilczek Island, Cape Tegetthoff, Tichaja Station, Cape Triest, Cape Fligely. Furthermore cruise to the ice border up to 82°23´N, Rubini Rock, walruss search around Bell Island). Wildlife observations in Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya included: 4 polar bears, some walrusses, greenland whale. First cruise of tour operator, ship and expedition leader to these destinations.

ORTELIUS - 13 days cruise from Kirkenes to Murmansk 09. - 21. 08. 2012, from ca. € 5050 per person. Expedition leader Rinie van Meurs plus 5 other guides/lecturers, ca. 75 passengers, up to 9 Zodiacs in use for landings. Due to russian naval exercise in front of Murmansk Fjord only 5 instead of 5.5 days in Franz Josef Land. Landings: Cape Flora, Cape Nansen, Cape Triest, into the drift ice north of the archipelago, Cape Fligely, Cape Norvegia, Bell Island. Zodiac-/ship cruises: ivory gull colony Alexandra Land, Rubini Rock, Sedov Station, Apollonov Island. Wildlife observations: several greenland whales, several humpback whales, ca. 25 polar bears, ca. 150 walrusses, at least 50 ivory gulls, redthroatede diver. Tour operator, expedition leader and other staff members had been to Franz Josef Land repeatedly before.

ORTELIUS - 12 days cruise from/to Murmansk/Kirkenes 21. 08. - 01. 09. 2012, from ca. € 4650 per person. Expedition leader Rinie van Meurs plus 5 more guides/lecturers, ca. 85 participants, up to 9 Zodiacs in use for landings. Due to russian naval exercise in front of Murmansk Fjord only 5 instead of 5.5 days in Franz Josef Land. Landings: Cape Flora, Sedov Station Tichaja, Cape Triest,  Cape Fligely, Teplitz Bay (aborted due to polar bear ashore, fog and increasing swell), Cape Norwegia, Ziegler Island. Zodiac-/Schiffscruises: Gunter Bay, Rubini Rock, into the drift ice up to 82°53´N (probably northernmost position ever reached on a cruise by a non-icebreaker), Apollonov Island, Cape Tegetthoff (only cruise - no landing due to rain/fog/polar bear on shore). Wildlife observations: greenland whale, humpback whales, 8 polar bears, ca. 200-250 walrusses on beaches and in the sea. Rediscovery of Kane Lodge - see: Opens internal link in current windowGreely Island. Tour operator, expedition leader and further staff members had been to Franz Josef Land repeatedly before.


Last Modification: 03.08.2013