Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen

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Fabian Gottlieb Thaddeus von Bellingshausen
Фаддей Фаддеевич Беллинсгаузен
Faddey Faddeyevich Bellinsgauzen
Admiral Faddey Faddeyevich Bellingshausen.jpg
Admiral Faddey Faddeyevich Bellingshausen. Lithograph by U. Schzeibach (У. Шзейбах), circa 1835.
Born 20 September O.S. 9 September] 1778
Lahhentagge manor, Ösel Island, Governorate of Livonia, Russian Empire (now in Salme Parish, Saare County, Estonia)
Died 25 January 1852(1852-01-25) (aged 73)
Kronstadt
Allegiance  Russian Empire
Service/branch  Imperial Russian Navy
Years of service 1795–1852
Rank Vice Admiral
Battles/wars Russo-Turkish War (1828–1829)
Awards Order of Saint George, Order of Saint Vladimir

Fabian Gottlieb Thaddeus von Bellingshausen (20 September O.S. 9 September] 1778 – 25 January O.S. 13 January] 1852; Russian: Фаддей Фаддеевич Беллинсгаузен, Faddey Faddeyevich Bellinsgauzen) was an officer in the Imperial Russian Navy, cartographer and explorer, who ultimately rose to the rank of Admiral. He was a notable participant of the first Russian circumnavigation and subsequently a leader of another circumnavigation expedition, which discovered the continent of Antarctica.

Bellingshausen started his service in the Baltic Fleet, and after distinguishing himself, he joined the First Russian circumnavigation in 1803-1806, where he served on frigate Nadezhda under the captaincy of Adam Johann von Krusenstern. After the journey he published a collection of maps of the newly explored areas and islands of the Pacific Ocean. Subsequently he commanded several ships of the Baltic and Black Sea Fleets.

As a prominent cartographer, Bellingshausen was appointed to command the circumnavigation of the globe in 1819-1821, intended to explore the Southern Ocean and to find land in the proximity of the South Pole. The expedition was prepared by Mikhail Lazarev, who was made Bellingshausen's second-in-command and the captain of sloop Mirny, while Bellingshausen himself commanded sloop Vostok. During this expedition Bellingshausen and Lazarev became the first explorers to see the land of Antarctica on January 28, 1820 (New Style). They managed to twice circumnavigate the continent and never lost each other from view. Thus they disproved Captain Cook's assertion that it was impossible to find land in the southern ice fields. The expedition discovered and named Peter I Island, Zavodovski, Leskov and Visokoi Islands, Antarctic Peninsula and Alexander Island (Alexander Coast), and made some discoveries in the tropical waters of the Pacific.

Made Counter-Admiral on his return, Bellingshausen participated in the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–1829. Promoted to Vice-Admiral, he again served in the Baltic Fleet in 1830s, and from 1839 he was the military governor of Kronstadt, where he died. In 1831 he published the book on his Antarctic travel, called Double Investigation of the Southern Polar Ocean and the Voyage Around the World (Двукратные изыскания в южнополярном океане и плавание вокруг света). He is remembered in Russia as one if its greatest admirals and explorers, and multiple geographical features and locations in the Antarctic, named in honor of Bellingshausen, remind of his role in exploration of the southern polar region.

Early life and career

Coat of arms of Bellingshausen family

Bellingshausen was born to a Baltic German family in the Lahhentagge manor, Ösel, Governorate of Livonia, now in Salme Parish, Saare County, Estonia — then part of the Russian Empire. He enlisted as a cadet in the Imperial Russian Navy at the age of ten. After graduating from the Kronstadt naval academy at age eighteen, Bellingshausen rapidly rose to the rank of captain.

First Russian circumnavigation

Nadezhda, where Bellingshausen served under captain Krusenstern during the first Russian circumnavigation.

A great admirer of Cook's voyages, Bellingshausen served from 1803 in the first Russian circumnavigation of the Earth. The vessel Nadezhda ("Hope"), where he was one of the officers, was commanded by Adam Johann von Krusenstern.

The mission was completed in 1806. After the journey Bellingshausen published a collection of maps of the newly explored areas and islands of the Pacific Ocean.

Service as Captain

Bellingshausen's career continued with the command of various ships in the Baltic and Black Seas. From 1812 to 1816 he commanded frigate Minerva and from 1817 to 1819 frigate Flora, both in the Black Sea Fleet.

First Russian Antarctic expedition

Captain Faddey Bellingshausen with the Cross of the Order of St. George

When Emperor Alexander I authorized an expedition to the south polar region in 1819, the authorities selected Bellingshausen to lead it as an experienced captain and explorer, and a prominent cartographer. The expedition was intended to explore the Southern Ocean and to find land in the proximity of the South Pole. The preparation work on the two ships, the 985-ton sloop-of-war Vostok ("East") and the 530-ton support vessel Mirny ("Peaceful") was carried out by Mikhail Lazarev, who had captained his own circumnavigation of the globe before. Bellingshausen became the captain of Vostok, and Lazarev captained Mirny. The journey started from Kronshtadt on 4 June 1819.

Leaving Portsmouth on 5 September 1819 the expedition crossed the Antarctic Circle (the first to do so since Cook) on 26 January 1820. On 28 January 1820 (New Style) the expedition discovered the Antarctic mainland approaching the Antarctic coast at a point with coordinates 69º21'28"S 2º14'50"W and seeing ice-fields there. The point in question lies within twenty miles of the Antarctic mainland. 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, were carefully compared with the log-books of other claimants by the British polar historian A. G. E. Jones in his 1982 study Antarctica Observed. Jones concluded that Bellingshausen, rather than the Royal Navy's Edward Bransfield on 30 January 1820 or the American Nathaniel Palmer on 17 November 1820, was indeed the discoverer of the sought-after Terra Australis.

During the voyage Bellingshausen also visited Ship Cove in New Zealand,1 the South Shetland Islands, and discovered and named Peter I, Zavodovski, Leskov and Visokoi Islands, and a peninsula of the Antarctic mainland which he named the Alexander Coast but which has more recently borne the designation of Alexander Island.

Mikhail Lazarev, captain of Mirny and second-in-command to Bellingshausen during the Antarctic expedition.

Bellingshausen and Lazarev managed to twice circumnavigate the continent and never lost each other from view. Thus they disproved Captain Cook's assertion that it was impossible to find land in the southern ice fields. The expedition also made discoveries and observations in the tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Admiral

Returning to Kronshtadt on 4 August 1821, Bellingshausen was made Counter Admiral. He fought in the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–1829 and attained the rank of Vice Admiral in 1830. In 1831 he published the book on his Antarctic travel, called Double Investigation of the Southern Polar Ocean and the Voyage Around the World (Двукратные изыскания в южнополярном океане и плавание вокруг света).

Military governor of Kronshtadt

He became the military governor of Kronstadt (from 1839) and died there in 1852.

A commemorative coin of Bank of Russia dedicated to the first Russian Antarctic expedition

Legacy

Faddey Faddeyevich Bellinsgauzen is remembered in Russia as one if its greatest admirals and explorers. In the Antarctic, multiple geographical features and locations, named in honor of Bellingshausen, remind of his role in exploration of the southern polar region.

Monuments

There is a memorial stone of von Bellingshausen on the previous site (on the ruins) of Lahhentagge/Lahetaguse manor in Oesel/Saaremaa.

There is a monument to Bellingshausen in Nikolayev, Ukraine.

There is a monument to Admiral Bellingshausen in Kronshtadt.

Named in honor

See also

References

  1. ^ A.H. McLintock, ed. (1966). "Ship Cove". An Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage/Te Manatū Taonga, Government of New Zealand. Retrieved 8 April 2009. 
  2. ^ Schmadel, Lutz D. (2003). Dictionary of Minor Planet Names (5th ed.). New York: Springer Verlag. p. 308. ISBN 3-540-00238-3. 

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