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|Explorers: Amundsen Fram pictures | von Bellingshausen - Vostok and Mirny | Borschgrevink - Southern Cross | Bruce - Scotia | Charcot Français Pourquoi-Pas? | Dumont D'Urville - Astrolabe and Zéléé | von Drygalski - Gauss | de Gerlache - Belgica | Mawson Aurora | Nordenskjöld - Antarctic | Ross - Erebus and Terror | Scott: Discovery South Pole The journey to the pole Pictures | Shackleton: Nimrod Endurance Quest|
|Ebooks: The South Pole - Amundsen | Home of the Blizzard - Mawson | Last Expedition - Scott | South - Shackleton|
Adams, Roman - Midshipman
Annenkov, Nikolai - Lieutenant
Other crew members:
Other crew members:
Fabien Gottleib von Bellingshausen - commander Vostok
Mikhail Lazarev - commander Mirnyi
Shortly after Napoleon had been dispatched from Moscow in 1812, the Emperor Alexander Pavlovich (Tsar Alexander I) for an assortment of reasons including the annexation of new lands for the Russian Empire, but also as a result of his own instabilities decreed that two expeditions be dispatched of two vessels each to the higher latitudes of the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans.
A Captain Ratmanov was originally selected for the voyage, though withdrew due to ill health and so Bellingshausen was appointed to be commander of the southern expedition with only 6 weeks notice in April 1819. He was a great admirer of Captain James Cook and it would no doubt have given him immense pleasure to hear the words of the Antarctic historian Hugh Robert Mill (1861-1950) that his journey to Antarctica in the Vostok and Mirnyi was:
"One of the greatest Antarctic expeditions on record, a voyage well worthy of being placed beside that of Cook"
The 600 ton corvette Vostok had been built only a year earlier and was the larger of the two vessels at 130 feet with a 33 foot beam and 10 foot draft, it had a coppered hull though was not ice strengthened. The 530 ton Mirnyi (previously Ladoga) 120 feet long with a 33 foot beam was an ex transport sloop, coppered like the Vostok, and also strengthened for ice work. The Mirnyi was a poor sailing vessel and despite mast and sail changes was considerably slower than the Vostok which spent much of the 2 year voyage under abridged sail to allow the slower Mirnyi to keep up.
Despite the anticipated hardships and risks, there were many volunteers to go on the voyage, a pattern that characterizes all of the early Antarctic Expeditions and even down to the present day. Great efforts were made in the selection of provisions and other supplies with salted beef, wheat and rye biscuits, sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) beef tea tablets and many other preserved foodstuffs. The men were unusually well clothed, with each receiving the following:
(note - webmaster - the best value I can find for the time is that a manual worker on land on par with a sailor would be earning in the region of 500 Roubles a year)
There were to have been two German naturalists joining the expedition at Copenhagen, but they declined at the last moment. Bellingshausen, concerned that he could not carry out the scientific programme appealed to Sir Joseph Banks in England who had sailed with Captain Cook and to the Royal Society, though no last-minute recruits were available.
The expedition crossed the Antarctic Circle (the first to do so since Cook) on January 26, 1820. On January 28 1820 the expedition discovered the Antarctic mainland approaching the Antarctic coast at a point with coordinates 69° 21′ 28″ S 2° 14′ 50″ W seeing ice-fields there. Bellingshausen's diary, his report to the Russian Naval Minister on 21 July 1821 and other documents, available in the Russian State Museum of the Arctic and Antarctic in Saint Petersburg, Russia, all support this fact.
Summarizing all this evidence, Russians claim Bellingshausen as the discoverer of the sought-after Terra Australis -- rather than the Royal Navy's Edward Bransfield on 30 January 1820 or the American Nathaniel Palmer on 17 November 1820.
During the voyage Bellingshausen also discovered and named the South Shetland Islands, Peter I Island and a peninsula of the Antarctic mainland which he named the Alexander Coast but which has more recently borne the designation of Alexander Island.
The expedition lasted 751 days, 527 of which were spent under sail, they had covered upwards of 57,000 miles, more than twice round the equator.
Bellinghausen at breakfast with the King of Tahiti, 23 July 1820
Attempting to land at Moller Island (Amanu), 8 July 1820
(Ed), 1945 The Voyage of Captain Bellingshausen’s to the
1819-1821, Hakluyt Society, London, pp 364-372.
|von Bellingshausen, Fabien Gottleib|
- This is a difficult area to research, I am concentrating on the Polar
experiences of the men involved. Any further information or pictures
visitors may have is gratefully received. Please email
- Paul Ward, webmaster.
What are the chances that my ancestor was an unsung part of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration?
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