White Sea-Baltic Canal Disaster

The White Sea–Baltic Canal, often abbreviated to White Sea Canal (Belomorkanal) is a ship canal in Russia opened on 2 August 1933. It connects the White Sea, in the Arctic Ocean, with Lake Onega, which is further connected to the Baltic Sea. Until 1961, its original name was the Stalin White Sea–Baltic Canal (Belomorsko–Baltiyskiy Kanal imeni Stalina).

White Sea Baltic CanalThe canal was constructed by forced labor of gulag inmates. Beginning and ending with a labor force of 126,000, between 12,000 and 240,000 laborers died according to official records, and accounts in the works of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

The canal runs partially along several canalized rivers and Lake Vygozero. The total length of the route is 227 kilometers (141 mi). As of 2008, the canal sees only light traffic, carrying between ten and forty boats per day. Its economic advantages are limited by its minimal depth of 3.5 m (11.5 ft), inadequate for most sea-going vessels. The canal was originally proposed to be 5.4 m (17.7 ft) deep; however, various cost issues forced completion to a much lesser depth. This depth typically corresponds to river craft with deadweight cargo up to 600 t, while useful sea going vessels of 2,000–3,000 dwt typically have drafts of 4.5–6 m (15–20 ft). More details