Industry Mourns Captain Petr Golikov

Captain Petr Golikov

The industry lost polar explorer and icebreaker captain Petr Golikov when he passed away April 15 after a long battle with lung cancer.

Born in Vladivostok, Russia, Golikov followed his father into the world of seafaring, studying at the merchant marine college and starting his career as a junior officer with the Far Eastern Shipping Company (FESCO).

In 1989 he was promoted to Captain of the Kapitan Khlebnikov, one of Russia’s most powerful diesel-electric icebreakers. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 led FESCO to look to alternate employment for their vessels and so began a 30-year collaboration with U.S.-based Quark Expeditions, the world’s leading polar travel company.

Golikov immediately took to his new role of leading passenger expeditions to the most remote corners of the Arctic and Antarctica. He enjoyed his new “human” cargo and would often join his passengers in the bar or dining room to recap the day’s events.

Among many other feats, Golikov led two complete circumnavigations of Antarctica and many voyages into the uncharted waters of both the Weddell and the Ross Seas.

Golikov Bay in Antarctica was named in his honor when he achieved the most southerly voyage on record for a ship, according to a press release.

At the time Golikov was concerned whether the Russian government would chastise him for risking the ship or laud him for the achievement. Fortunately it turned out to be the latter when then President Boris Yeltsin sent him his personal congratulations. 

In the Arctic region Golikov frequently transited the Northwest Passage (six times), led the first ever expedition to the geo-magnetic North Pole and led the first ever passenger circumnavigation of the Arctic Ocean. Throughout these passenger voyages he assisted many nations, bringing personnel and supplies to remote scientific outposts and always being ready to assist in any way needed.

He immigrated to Canada along with Natalia and Pavel in November of 2004 when he joined the now Toronto-based headquarters of Quark as the Vice President of Ship Operations. 

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