Famed Russian sailing ship will return to Kodiak

The Russian training ship STS Pallada plans to return to Kodiak July 20 for the first time in almost two decades. The Pallada is the fastest tall ship under sail alone in the world. (Photo courtesy of Marty Owen)

KODIAK — The Russians call her a ship. Guinness World Records calls her the fastest tall ship under sail. Kodiak deputy harbormaster Lon White calls her “one of the most exciting ships that’s ever visited Kodiak.”

The Pallada, a 354-foot Russian training ship, is returning to Kodiak for a visit this month almost 20 years after its first appearance here in the early 1990s.

Based in Vladivostok and named after a Greek goddess, the Pallada serves a purpose similar to that of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Eagle: It’s a three-masted sailing ship used to train sailors for careers in the military.

The Pallada is owned by the Far Eastern State Technical University of Fisheries, which uses it in an ROTC-like program, Kodiak harbormaster Marty Owen said.

The Pallada and her crew of cadets and a handful of full-time sailors have an itinerary that includes Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu and Tokyo. Their first stop in North America, however, will be in Kodiak.

“We see some 150-foot yacht-type vessels (in Kodiak); we don’t see anything quite like this,” said White, who was in Kodiak the last time the Pallada visited.

This time around, the ship is commemorating both the 50th anniversary of the first human spaceflight by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and the 270th anniversary of the Russian discovery of Alaska.

Such an occasion requires a fair bit of pomp and circumstance, which was the purpose of a Tuesday morning meeting in Fisherman’s Hall. Almost two dozen Kodiak residents discussed proposals for the ship’s expected July 20 arrival at Pier 2.

Plans are still in the preliminary stages, with Owen coordinating efforts, but they may include a ceremonial escort to dock from the Coast Guard and other boats, and a welcoming committee on shore.

Activities are in the works for the Pallada’s 102 cadets, who will have some time to see the sights on Kodiak Island before their scheduled departure July 23.

Kodiak as a whole is also expected to participate in the festivities. The Pallada will be open for tours from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 21-22, and on July 23 the ship will host a movie called “Discovery of Russian America,” an English-language Russian look at a piece of American history.

As the ship arrives and departs, White said it will offer a spectacular panorama for shoreside photographers.

Coast Guard Ens. Jacob Hauser, who spent 11 weeks on the Coast Guard’s Eagle, said as spectacular as the views may be for those on shore, they don’t compare to actually being on the deck.

“If you’ve ever seen ‘Treasure Island’ or ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ it’s like being in that. It’s surreal.”

People interested in volunteering to help with the Pallada welcoming committee are asked to contact Owen at 486-8080. Families willing to host Pallada cadets for dinner also are needed.

Mirror Editor James Brooks can be reached at editor@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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