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 Semyon Dezhnyov

Born:   about 1605
Deceased:   1673

The Russian seafarer, the discoverer of the strait between Asia and America.


In the 1630s Semyon Ivanovich Dezhnyov went to Siberia to serve in Cossack troops. It is known that after service in Tobolsk and Yeniseisk he arrived in Yakutia in 1638.
Within nine years of staying in the basin of River Yana, in Oimyakon and Kolyma he made a number of river cruises and overland marches and in 1642 gained an offing from River Indigirka to the Arctic Ocean.
The seaman proved to be a brave and successful warrior. In 1641 with a team of 15 people, delivering tribute in furs from the Yana River to Yakutsk, he turned a gang of 40 robbers at bay. In 1642 at the head of a 13 people garrison he successfully protected Kolyma stockade town from an attack of 500 Yukaghirs.
In summer of 1647 Dezhnyov was sent as a government agent to F. Popov’s expedition. It was supposed to float on the Arctic Ocean to the lands located to the east of Kolyma, trade with Chukchi, denize local population into the Russian citizenship and collect tribute. Cossacks also wanted to find a sea way to the Anadyr River rich in marketable fish and fur-bearing animals. On June 20, 1648 the team on seven boats put out to sea. As far as it is known, only three vessels reached the strait separating Asia from America. They rounded the cape which Dezhnyov named the Big Stone Nose and which was later named after Dezhnyov (1898). One more ship crashed there and two remaining vessels — those of Dezhnyov and Popova — lost track of each other due to a storm. Dezhnyov’s ship was cast ashore to the south of the mouth of River Anadyr in October, 1648, and the crew came back to the river where they founded the Anadyr stockaded town.
In summer of 1652 they discovered on Anadyr bank a walrus rookery with plenty of walrus tusks.
This was the discovery, rather than finding the strait between two continents, that Dezhnyov got the Cossack ataman title for after coming to Moscow in 1664.
Over a hundred years later the British explorer and navigator Captain James Cook, who did not know about Dezhnyov’s cruise, named his find the Bering Strait. 
In 1666 Semyon Dezhnyov returned to Yakutsk and continued service till 1671 and then came back to Moscow, where he spent the rest of his life.
In addition to the Dezhnov Cape, a bay in the Bering Sea was named after the explorer.

Tags: Seafarers Atamans Semyon Dezhnyov   

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