Ernst Krenkel

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Ernst Teodorovich Krenkel, callsign RAEM (Эрнст Теодо́рович Кре́нкель) (1903-1971) was a Soviet Arctic explorer, doctor of geographical sciences (1938), Chairman of the USSR Central Radio Club and Hero of the Soviet Union (1938).

In 1924–1925 and 1927–1938, Ernst Krenkel was a radioman on polar stations Matochkin Shar (1924–1925, 1927–1928), Tikhaya Bay (1929–1930), Cape Olovyanniy (1935–1936), and Domashniy Island (1936). He took part in Arctic expeditions on the LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin airship (1931), icebreaker Sibiryakov, steamship SS Chelyuskin (1933–1934). Ernst Krenkel was also a radioman on the first drifting ice station North Pole in 1937–1938. He is known to have set a world record by establishing a long-distance radio communication between Franz Josef Land and Antarctica.

In 1938, Ernst Krenkel went on to work for Glavsevmorput (Главное Управление Северного Морского Пути,Chief Directorate of the Northern Sea Route). Later in his life he was employed in the radio industry. In 1948 and until the end of the Stalinist period, Krenkel was persecuted by the Soviet regime, under the orders of G.M. Malenkov. In 1951 Krenkel was hired by the scientific research institute of hydrometeorological instrument-making, becoming its director in 1969.

Krenkel was a very active radio amateur. He was assigned the exceptional amateur radio callsign RAEM, which was previously the radio callsign of his former ship SS Chelyuskin, lost in the Arctic Ocean in 1934. He served as chairman of the Central Radio Club (P.O.Box 88, Moscow) for a number of years.

Ernst Krenkel was awarded two Orders of Lenin, three other orders and several medals. He authored memoirs named My Callsign is RAEM ("Мои позывные — RAEM").(3) Ernst Krenkel died in 1971 and was interred at the Novodevichy Cemetery. His 100th anniversary was celebreated by radio amateurs worldwide from 18 to 21 December 2003, by contacting special event stations R0AEM, R1AEM, R3AEM etc.(4)

A street in Moscow bears Krenkel's name.

A soviet 3420 ton polar research vessel, the former Vikhr (IMO 7205685), was renamed Enrst Krenkel after the great explorer. It is still in use in Ukraine using radio callsign EOGQ.

The loss of SS Chelyuskin

QSL card of E. Krenkel using callsign RAEM

Enrst Krenkel was the chief radio officer onboard the icebreaker SS Chelyuskin ("Челю́скин"). The ship sailed on July 16, 1933 to Wrangel Island (71° 14' N - 179° 25' W) in the Artcic Ocean, commanded by Vladimir Ivanovich Voronin (Владимир Иванович Воронин). Head of the mission was the famous scientist and polar explorer Otto Schmidt. However she was stuck in the ice near Cape Wellen (now spelled "Uelen"/"Уэ́лен", 66° 09′ - N 169° 48′ W) and, although she was an icebreaker, she was destroyed on February 13, 1934. The crew and passengers, a total of 104 men and women, were able to disembark and save enough supplies to survive until April 1934, when they were evacuated by air. Krenkel was able to save the radio set of the ship before she sank and he used it to communicate with the authorities and coordinate the evacuation. Krenkel himself was evacuated from the camp area with the last group of six, on April 12, 1934. (2)


  1. Кренкель Эрнст Теодорович: biography in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia.
  2. Alf Lindgren, SM5IQ: Ernst Krenkel - no ordinary radio amateur, 2002.
  3. Ernst Krenkel: My Callsign is RAEM, 1939.
  4. Sandeep Baruah, VU2MUE: "Ernest Krenkel - Tribute to a legendary ham radio operator", VIPNET News, January-February 2004, pp. 10-11.
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