The First Soviet Antarctic Expedition was led by Mikhail Somov; his scientific deputy was V. G. Kort. The expedition lasted from 30 November 1955 to 1957 and involved 127 expedition members and 75 crew members.
Three diesel-electric ships were used to transport the expedition. They were RV Ob (flagship; captain I. A. Man), RV Lena (captain A. I. Vetrov) and the refrigerator ship No. 7 (captain M. A. Tsygankov). The final ship was used only for transporting perishables. Ob and Lena were icebreakers 130m long and displacing 12,600 tons.
On 30 November 1955 Ob left port at Kaliningrad.
The principal task of the expedition was to organise the main base, Mirny, and perform limited scientific observations. Other tasks were reconnaissance of sites for the inland bases Vostok and Sovetskaya; and oceanography of the Indian ocean.