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The reluctant hosts: Soviet Antarctic expedition ships visit Australia and New Zealand in 1956

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2009

Irina Gan
Affiliation:
Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 77, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia

Abstract

Russian and Australian primary sources were examined in an attempt to reconstruct the voyage of the first composite Soviet Antarctic expedition to Antarctica and from thence to Leningrad [St Petersburg]. This expedition had the aim of constructing a base for the Soviet International Geophysical Year (IGY) commitment. In a time of cold war tension and unresolved Antarctic claims, the Australian and New Zealand governments were wary of Soviet intentions and barely tolerated visits by Soviet expeditions. However, in their interactions with Australians and New Zealanders, the Soviets were careful to underline the friendly nature of their visits and avoided any sensitive political questions. The two governments’ apparent lack of enthusiasm for Ob and Lena entering their ports after fulfilling their task in Antarctica is contrasted with the generally more enthusiastic attitude of the Australian and New Zealand scientists and expedition members, with whom the Soviet personnel came into contact, some of whom developed lasting scientific relationships with the visitors.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008

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