Self-propelled barge T-36

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The self-propelled barge T-36 was a Soviet barge of the Project 306 type. Its waterline length is 17.3 m, width is 3.6 m, depth is 2 m, draft is 1.2 m. Tonnage is 100 tons, barge has two engines, speed is 9 knots.[1]

49-days long drift in the Pacific[edit]

On January 17, 1960, the barge's crew of four was preparing the barge for loading on the Kuril Islands, when they encountered hurricane-force winds. The tackle was torn and the crew, junior sergeant Askhat Ziganshin (Russian: Асхат Рахимзянович Зиганшин, Tatar: Cyrillic Әсхәт Рәхимҗан улы Җиһаншин, Latin Äsxät Räximcan ulı Cihanşin), and crewmen Filipp Poplavsky (Russian: Филипп Григорьевич Поплавский), Anatoly Kryuchkovsky (Russian: Анатолий Фёдорович Крючковский), and Ivan Fedotov (Russian: Иван Ефимович Федотов), drifted for 49 days until the U.S. aircraft carrier Kearsarge picked up them on 7 March in stormy waters 1,200 miles off Wake Island.

There was not enough food on the barge: one loaf of bread and a bucket of potatoes, sodden in diesel fuel. As they drifted in the area where navigation was forbidden due to Soviet missile testing, no ship found them until the Americans did. The crew even ate their leather belts, wristlets and finally boots to prolong their food reserves.

The drift of Askhat "Victor" Ziganshin's crew took a resonance in the worldwide press. Returning to the USSR, the crew had popularity close to that of cosmonauts, and took a major role in Soviet popular culture.[2] After the crew was returned by air to the USSR, the Soviet government expressed gratitude to the Kearsarge for its gesture.[3]

49-days long drift in Soviet pop-culture[edit]

The name of Askhat Ziganshin was well known in the pop-culture of the Soviet Union in the 1960s as Askhat "Ate-His-Boot" Ziganshin.[4]

Childish rhyme:

Юрий Гагарин
Никита Хрущёв
А ты кто будешь таков?

Yuri Gagarin
Ziganshin the Tatar
Nikita Khrushchev
And who are you?