Mikhail A. Danchenkov
Far Eastern Regional Hydrometeorological Research Institute (FERHRI), Vladivostok

Abstract: This is the second article of the three on this topic. The first one has been published in the issue of “Asia-Pacific Journal of Marine Science & Education”,volume 10,number 1, 2020. Based on a large information archive the author performs an analysis of the whole complex of research vessels in Russia and makes conclusion about the need to publish a unified reference book in order to organize all materials on this subjects.

Keywords: scientific-research vessel, number of research vessels, reference book of research vessels in Russia, reliability of information about research vessels

The characteristics of research vessels from different organizations often remain unknown, especially with regard to pre- 1961 vessels.


Oceanographic organizations – ship owners and research ship operators are poorly known even in their agencies and institutions. For example, in the reference book of All-Russia Hydrometeorological Research Institute [10] the organization under the charge of the same agency – “Russian Hydrometeorological Service” – Far Eastern Hydrometeorological Research Institute is called as “Institute of Hydrometeorological Information”. This is no random remark; such name is repeated several times.

Pacific Oceanological Institute – POI in the other book [7] of the Russian Academy of Sciences is called (this is no random remark too, it has been repeated on other pages) as “Pacific Oceanographic Institute”.

For example, the vessel “Vityaz” was based (since 1949) in Vladivostok, but the owner of the vessel was the Moscow Institute of Oceonology, and not the Far Eastern Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences; the ship herself was completed and operated

from Moscow. The first own vessel (“Pervenets”) appeared in the Pacific Branch of the Institute of Oceanology of the USSR Academy of Sciences only in 1967 (and POI appeared as part of the Far Eastern Scientific Center only in 1973).

According to Register of marine ships, 1985, the scientific- research vessel (SRV) ‘Professor Hromov” is owned by the USSR Academy of Sciences. But this is not true.

As follows from various voyage reports, this vessel had always belonged to “Russian Hydrometeorological Service” (HMS). “Perseus” is announced [7] as a first special vessel of the Academy of Sciences. But this vessel has never belonged to the Academy of Sciences. In fact, the “Perseus” was owned by Floating Marine Scientific Institute (Russian abbreviation – “Plavmornin”). Since 1929 “Plavmornin” is known as State Oceanographic Institute, and since 1934 as All-Russian Research Institute of Marine Fisheries and Oceanography (Russian abbreviation – VNIRO). VNIRO has never been subordinate to the Academy of Sciences.

Register of Ships, 1995, [18] includes the information that SRV “Dmitry Peskov” belongs to the “Sakhalin Institute of Oceanography”. This name differs from the “Sakhalin Branch of TINRO (Russian abbreviation of the Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography) and from the “Sakhalin Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography”. Change of status (first to second) took place in 1995.

The first Russian reference book of SRV [30] noted that in the USSR “as of 01.01.1966 6 institutes were engaged in ocean research”. But only in Vladivostok there were two institutes (Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography and Far Eastern Regional Hydrometeorological Research Institute). In Murmansk there were two institutes, in Kaliningrad – one institute, in Kerch – one institute, in Leningrad – one institute, in Sevastopol – two institutes. All of them were ship owners or ship operators of SRV. There were as many as four such institutes in Moscow. In addition, ocean researches were engaged by geological and navy institutes. The affiliation of research vessels is also incorrect in the reference book of All-Russia Research Institute of Hydrometeorology Information – World Data Center (Russian abbreviation – VNIIGMI) [10].

In the USSR Registers of marine ships the ship owner sometimes just was not noted. Therefore, the ownership of some (more than 30) research vessels is still unclear.

Initially, the scientific fleet of the country was developed to ensure maritime navigation and fishing. With the development of rocket science there appeared a need for space communication support vessels. When the USSR began to sell gas and oil products there appeared a need for special marine vessels to engage shelf works. Space communication support vessels, military hydrographic ships, fishing vessels and those owned by project institutions are more production than research vessels. But to define border between science and production is difficult and maybe impossible.

The information about SRV of some institutes may be found by the reader in publications [3, 6] and on the web-sites. The number and technical specifications of vessels on the Northern Sea Route you can find in [5, 14, 20, 26]. Recently, websites and books have appeared [2] about ships which provided space communications (Cosmoflot) [2]. As for geological and geophysical vessels, there are no summarized publications about them. As well, there is no sufficient information about the vessels of Hydrometeorological Service (HMS) [15,24,29]. According to these publications, it is impossible to find out the main characteristics and the number of research vessels of HMS.


Soviet organizations – ship operators and ship owners – did not feel the need for cost savings and interdepartmental cooperation. Vessels of different enterprises have been making the same measurements in the same areas of the Pacific Ocean for years without coordination. Very rarely, representatives from different enterprises worked on the same Soviet vessel.

The lack of work coordination and departmental disunity were leading not only to financial losses. The works on maritime depth measurements were divided in the USSR between the Navy and the Ministry of Merchant Fleet. As a result, while the nuclear-powered ship “Arctic” was preparing for the voyage to Northern Pole, a complete lack of hydrographic information along the route was revealed. If the information (or its lack) from any enterprise was

open for other users then the problem of “white spots” would have been posed and solved earlier, long before the problem arose.

Number of departmental research vessels is shown in the Table 1 according to the Registers of marine ships (compiled by the author in 2020).

Table 1 Distribution of departmental research vessels in accordance with the Registers of Ships (RS) of different years. In parentheses – total number of research vessels in RS.

AS – Academy of Sciences; MF – Ministry of Fisheries, HMS – Hydrometeorological Service; MG and MO – Ministries of gas and oil industries, HE – Hydrographic Enterprise, RF – Russian Federation

1964-1965 ( 81)22+ 8161289
1970 (115)21+ 4382098+ 7
1976-1977 (164)21+1032292835+ 3
1978-1979 (162)18+ 930332736+ 4
1980-1981 (184)25+1425393531+ 8
1982 (188)18+1424373825+22
1985 (232)18+1233385237+29
1995-USSR(222)17+ 035446264
1995-RF (173)17+ 030304749
2005-RF ( 83)1010181725

The table does not include the vessels of the Ministry of shipbuilding industry and higher educational institutions. The ownership of some research vessels remains unknown,

Now, let us consider the information about the number of ships in some departments.


Among the departmental research vessels the vessels of the Academy of Sciences are described best of all [4,7,8,13,23,25,28]. Only these ships (various by types, etc.) are called “flagships” because they are the biggest and most comfortable. As for uncomfortable ships with small displacement often they are not even mentioned when calculating the vessels’ total number.

The publications about vessels of the Academy of Sciences contain rough errors. In one publication (editor, authors of preface, afterword and review are academics) there is a fact: The vessel “Vulkanolog”, built in 1967 in Finland, was transferred to the

Institute of Volcanology, Far Eastern Scientific Center. But this ship was constructed not in 1967, but in 1976, not in Finland, but in the USSR (in Khabarovsk). Far Eastern Scientific Center in 1967 had not existed yet (there was a Siberian Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences).

In 1955 “scientific institutions of the USSR Academy of Sciences had 32 research vessels”, [11], by 1961 – 37, and by 1966 – 44 research vessels [7]. But the vessels’ names are not noted, and without them the reliability of above-mentioned quantity numbers cannot be estimated.

Other sources have other quantity numbers. In RS-64 there are characteristics of only 8 academician vessels (Table 1), in the Reference book “World’s Expedition Vessels [30] – 10, in RS-70 – 9 [17]. However, these vessels were mostly not the same ones!

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