Military Review

Great polar explorer Khariton Laptev

Great polar explorer Khariton LaptevIn domestic stories Khariton Prokofyevich Laptev remained as a navigator, but the main number of geographical discoveries made by him was not at all at sea. If you follow the route of the polar wanderings of the legendary explorer on the map, you can easily see that he traveled the main route by land.

Khariton was born in 1700 year in the small village of Pekarevo, which lies in the Great Slavic province, now located in the Pskov region. The future navigator received his first education in the Trinity Church under the supervision of priests. And in 1715, Laptev continued his studies at the Maritime Academy of St. Petersburg, graduating from 1718. In the same year he entered the fleet in the rank of midshipman. The following years a young guy spent in the study of marine craft. It is known that Khariton Prokofievich did not avoid any hard or painstaking work. People like him were always called workhorses in the service. In the spring of 1726, he was made a midshipman, and in 1734, on the frigate Mitau, Laptev took part in hostilities against the associates of the rebel Polish magnate, the king of the Commonwealth - Leschinsky.

During Russian operations fleet near Danzig their ship was sent for reconnaissance, during which the French fraudulently captured the ship, speaking just a couple of days before the incident on the side of the Lithuanian prince. Returning from captivity, Laptev, along with the rest of the frigate’s officers, was sentenced to death for surrendering the ship without battle. However, after lengthy proceedings and additional investigation, the Mitau crew was fully acquitted, and the midshipman Khariton Laptev, who was found not guilty, along with the rest of the officers, returned to the fleet.

In the summer of 1736, Laptev, a seasoned sailor, took part in the campaign of the Baltic Fleet, after which he was sent to the Don, entrusting him to find a suitable place for the construction of ships. In 1737, he was promoted to lieutenant, taking command of the court yacht Dekrone. However, when he heard that there is a recruitment of officers who wish to participate in the Northern Expedition, he filed a petition for enrollment. Apparently, the quiet service at the court attracted Khariton less than the deprivation of the fate of a polar explorer. Finally, in the twenties of December 1737, he was appointed commander of the detachment of the next Great Northern Expedition. Time has shown the correctness of the choice for such a responsible post of this most educated and most experienced naval officer, who possessed outstanding will power, energy and courage.

Here it is necessary to add that the Russian Admiralty did not initially recognize the results of the campaign of Vitus Bering. After examining his reports along with the attached materials, 20 of December 1737, the board members considered them incomplete and, contrary to Bering’s opinion, decided to send two expeditions “for verification” with an instruction to investigate and describe the coast in the area between the mouths of the Lena and Yenisei Rivers.

Both detachments were given deadlines for the execution of all work, prescribing "to try to be as diligent and jealous as possible so that the work could be completed to the utmost." In February, Dmitry Yakovlevich Laptev, the famous polar traveler and Khariton Prokofyevich's cousin, arrived in the northern capital of 1738. He brought with him magazines, reports and maps, which he had compiled during his previous journey as the head of an expedition to study the sea coast east of Lena. It was he who spoke about the accumulations of ice near the mouth of the Lena, which extremely impede the progress of the vessels, and also suggested the mapping of the coast by traveling over land. Here Dmitry Yakovlevich received an order to continue the inventory of the coast east of the Lena to the mouth of the Kolyma, and from there on the way back, taking the ship, try to go around Cape Dezhnev.

The brothers left St. Petersburg together, in Kazan they took rigging for ships, and in Irkutsk - money, food and gifts to residents of Siberia. Far-sighted Khariton Laptev persuaded the Irkutsk office to prepare them just in case on the coast of dogs and deer. In addition, people were sent to the mouths of Taimyra, Khatanga and Anabara in order to begin harvesting fish and build dwellings in case the expedition would hibernate in those places.

At the end of May 1739, the expedition members gathered in Yakutsk, and on June X Khariton Laptev took the small ship Yakutsk down the Lena River. A month later, the travelers reached the mouth of the Olenyok River, where they entered the Great Ice. Further the dubel-boat was either under oars, now under sails, now pushing the ice floes with the poles, now punching the way with the sand pike. On July 5, the Laptev team reached the eastern entrance to the strait between Begichev Island and the mainland. The entire strait was occupied by fixed ice.

To go around the island and enter Khatanga Bay, “Yakutsk” headed north. Breaking through the ice, Laptev entered the ship in the Khatanga Gulf on August 6, and on August 17, passing the island of Peter, the ship went west along the coast. On August 21, at Cape Thaddeus, the Yakutsk path was again blocked by fixed ice. It was not possible to determine its boundaries due to dense fog, and frosts began. It was necessary to choose a place for wintering, but a survey of the coast led to disappointing results: there was no fin for the construction of housing. After some discussion, the researchers decided to return to the Khatanga Bay. By 27 number "Yakutsk" with great difficulty, made his way to the place, which stood at the beginning of the month. From here, Laptev went south, entering Khatanga, he reached the mouth of the Prodigal, where several Evenk families lived. Next to them, the detachment remained for the winter.

To protect the team from scurvy, Khariton Laptev included frozen fresh fish in his daily diet. Thanks largely to this, for the entire first winter, not a single traveler caught up with this terrible disease. Laptev himself, during the wintering season, collected information about the northern region, listening to the stories of local residents.

15 June Khatanga opened, but because of the ice masses accumulated in the gulf, the dubbing boat managed to get out of the river only on July 13. For a whole month Yakutsk overcame the ice in the bay. Having appeared in the sea, the vessel already within the first days has rather far advanced to the north. However, on August 13, at the mark of 75 ° 26 'of the northern latitude, the dubbing-boat approached the border of unbroken ice stretching to the northeast from the coast. "Yakutsk" went along the edge, but the wind changed, began to catch up the ice, and soon the ship was wiped. The wind increased, the ice squeezed the ship more and more, the flow began. The team protected the boards with logs from the ice pressure, scooped up water, but this did not save the ship. Soon the ice broke the stem, and already 14 August Laptev ordered to unload a heavy load: anchors, guns, supplies. When it became finally clear that the position of the dubel boat was hopeless, the people also left the ship.

A day later, after the formation of sufficiently strong ice, Khariton Laptev took the sailors to shore. Warmed by the fires, tired travelers engaged in the construction of a dugout and carrying cargo left near Yakutsk. 31 August ice set in motion, with the result that the dubbing boat was destroyed. The part of the cargo remaining on the ice also disappeared with her. The detachment could not immediately go to populated places to the south because of the ice drift on the rivers. Travelers waited until 21 September, after which they set off on a grueling campaign. October 15 Laptev with his squad arrived at the place of the second wintering by the Bludnaya River.

The results of Vasily Pronchishchev’s voyages in the 1736 year and his own sad experience convinced Khariton Prokofyevich that it was impossible to walk along the coast between the mouths of the Taimyr and Pyasiny sea. In addition, his only ship, the Yakutsk, was destroyed by ice. However, the courageous traveler did not even think about complaining about difficult conditions or returning back to St. Petersburg with requests to organize a new expedition. In November, 1740 Khariton Laptev made a non-standard decision - to carry out the conceived cartographic works “by dry means”, on dogs. He started doing this already in the early spring of 1741.

Map of Taimyr, created by Khariton Laptev based on the results of his expedition

Since far fewer people were needed to carry out an inventory of the coast from land than lived in the camp, Khariton Laptev left only the surveyor Nikifor Chekina, Semyon Chelyuskin, four soldiers, one carpenter and noncommissioned officer. The rest of the squad members in two groups (February 15 and April 10) traveled by reindeer to Dudinka, located on the Yenisei.

The first group, including Chelyuskin and two soldiers, traveled west on three 17 dog sleds in March 1741. Their goal was to produce an inventory of the coast from the mouth of the Pyasina to Taimyr. 15 April, the second group consisting of Chekin, a soldier and a Yakut local resident left the winter quarters on a mission to reconnoiter the eastern shore of Taimyr. Khariton Prokofyevich himself on four dog sleds and accompanied by one soldier set off on April 24. Six days later he reached Lake Taimyr, crossed it and went to the source of Taimyra. Moving further north in its valley, May 6 Laptev was at the mouth of this river and found that its location is far west of Fadday Bay. In this regard, he decided to change his original plan. Realizing that Nikifor Chekina had to carry out an inventory of the coast of a much larger area than was supposed, Khariton Laptev advanced to meet his surveyor. His path lay to the east, and not to the west, as he had planned earlier.

13 May Laptev reached the latitude of 76 ° 42 'and was forced to linger because of the beginning of a strong blizzard. In addition, he had pains in his eyes, the so-called snow blindness. Further travel could only increase the disease. After the weather had improved, Laptev decided, leaving the Chekin sign, to return to the mouth of the Taimyr and find the previously prepared parking space for the expedition. On May 17, he was there, but the imported food was not there. The harvested fish was taken away and eaten by polar bears and arctic foxes, and it was necessary to leave the food supply to Chekina for feeding the dogs. Therefore, he went west to meet Semyon Chelyuskin, hoping to find "help" with him. On the way he started 19 May, as soon as the pain in his eyes had subsided. Moving west, May 24 Laptev approached an unknown cape, from which the coast turned south. Having determined the latitude - 76 ° 39 '- and putting a noticeable sign on the cape, the traveler moved on.

He met Chelyuskin on June 1 at the end point of his route - near the sign of Sterlegov, set in 1740, at Cape Lehmann. Unfortunately, Semyon Ivanovich was also short of food, and Chelyuskin’s dogs were extremely exhausted. Travelers were rescued only by a successful polar bear hunt. The local spring was approaching and, fearing to get stuck on the deserted shores for a long time, the sailors moved to the cabin at the Pyasina estuary. Along the way, they together discovered and mapped a number of coastal islands, bays and capes.

By June 9 they reached the mouth of the Pyasina and were stopped by the flood that began. A month later, the travelers managed to take a boat up the river to the lake called Pyasino. The path was very difficult, however, fortunately, Laptev met the wandering Nenets there and got on the deer to Golchikha, and from there on the passing ship along the Yenisei to Dudinka.

Near the mouth of the Dudinka River, Chekin was already waiting for travelers. It turned out that he managed to get only to the islands of Peter (to the latitude 76 ° 35 '), describing six hundred kilometers of the coast. After that, his eyes struck the eternal disease of all researchers of the polar deserts - snow blindness. He could not go further and was forced to return to wintering.

When Laptev analyzed the results of the work of all three groups, it turned out that their task was not completed completely. The section of the coast remained between the East Cape and the place to the west that Khariton Prokofyevich himself had reached remained uncharted. The description of this site was decided to postpone until the next winter. September 29 travelers arrived in Turukhansk, where they made preparations for the decisive campaign.

The first 4 of December 1741 of the year was Chelyuskin who left Turukhansk with three soldiers accompanying him and five dog sleds. 8 February 1742 of the year Khariton Laptev set off after him too on five teams. In late May, he reached the mouth of the Taimyra, where he met with Semyon Ivanovich, who made an inventory from Cape Faddy to Taimyra, including the North Eastern Cape, the northernmost part of the Taimyr Peninsula, later called Cape Chelyuskin. From the mouth of the Taimyr, they returned together to Turukhansk, from where the whole detachment went to Yeniseisk, mapping the banks of the Yenisei on the way. By 27 August 1742, the travelers were at their destination, and the task assigned to them was successfully completed.

The expedition under the leadership of Khariton Laptev as a result of the hardest trials and incredible efforts was able to put on the maps of Russia over two thousand kilometers of land. In addition, he was able to largely explore the previously “closed” Taimyr Peninsula, as well as to prove that Taimyr flows into the Kara Sea not at all in the place where it was previously assumed. Of course, the data collected by Khariton Laptev and his people cannot be considered absolutely correct. He himself understood this very well. Indeed, at that time, researchers were armed with rather imperfect tools, which gave extremely approximate results. In those days, even the chronometer was not invented yet - the simplest device for determining longitude. In addition, we must not forget that the Laptev detachment worked in the winter. Strong snow cover prevented the precise contours of the coastline. Nevertheless, this does not detract from the merits of Khariton Prokofyevich - a researcher of one of the most severe places in the Arctic Ocean.

13 September 1743, Khariton Laptev brought a report to the Admiralty describing the results of the work of his squad. In addition, the report included the personal notes of the navigator, representing, as it turned out, an enormous scientific value. Laptev himself explained that he wrote them as “news” to descendants and contributed to them only what he considered “indecent to mark in a journal” as not relevant to the main activity of the detachment. The compressed form gave a detailed description of various rivers, lakes and their shores, ethnographic information was systematized on the peoples living on the Taimyr Peninsula. Traveler’s observations were fully confirmed afterwards. The notes of Khariton Prokofievich were highly appreciated by scientists of Russia and many other countries.

After his great journey to the north, Laptev continued to serve in the Baltic Fleet. In 1746, he commanded the Ingermanland 66 cannon battleship. Later, being the captain of the Uriil ship, he went to see Karlskron and Danzig. In the spring of 1757, Laptev was assigned to the Navigation Company to conduct special training for future navigators. Former positions Laptev held until the 1762 year, commanding the ships in the summer months. By this time he was already in the rank of captain of the First Rank.

10 April 1762 of the elderly Khariton Prokofyevich was appointed Ober-Ster-Krigs Commissar of the Fleet. This “four-story” land post on the one hand was very lucrative and was considered very high, but on the other hand was unbearably boring and tedious. In the Russian army, the "commissars" were in charge of money, supply of troops, equipment, uniforms, camp and baggage equipment, manual weapons and many others. In this position, Laptev worked until his death. The legendary navigator died in his native village Pekarevo 21 December 1763 of the year.

Motherland did not forget the names of the brave participants of the Great Northern Expedition. The names of the leaders of the expedition, which described the coast between the mouths of the Yenisei and the Lena, remained on the map of the globe, reminding descendants of the heroism of their compatriots. The name of Khariton Laptev was called the stretch of coast lying between the mouths of the Pyasina and Taimyra rivers. The two northeastern capes of Pilot Makhotkin Island, located near Taimyr Island, are called Laptev Cape and Khariton Cape, respectively. And on the eastern shores of the Taimyr Peninsula, Khariton Laptev Cape is issued into the sea. In honor of the cousins ​​Laptev, Khariton and Dmitry, one of the most severe seas of the Arctic Ocean is named - the Laptev Sea. What could be the best posthumous reward for the Russian polar traveler?

The name “Laptev Sea” officially appeared on the map of the Arctic Ocean only in Soviet times, despite the fact that these Laptev brothers discovered the places in the first half of the 18th century. Previously, this sea was called differently - and the Tatar, and Lensky, even the Siberian and Arctic. In 1883, the famous polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen from Norway even gave the sea the name of Nordenskiöld. However, the Russian Geographical Society in 1913, approved its current name, which was officially fixed by the decision of the Central Election Commission of the USSR in the summer of 1935.

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  1. mirag2
    mirag2 23 December 2013 13: 22
    Great person.
  2. Panikovsky
    Panikovsky 23 December 2013 14: 59
    paraphrasing Y. Gashek: ... and the Nordenschelds place in the outhouse. this ended the conversation about Norway.
  3. kaktus
    kaktus 23 December 2013 16: 51
    A very interesting article about great people! good
  4. Takashi
    Takashi 23 December 2013 19: 23
    could write more about this man.!
    Only +. big.
  5. Gray-haired Siberian
    Gray-haired Siberian 23 December 2013 20: 22
    This is how much these People (with a capital letter) needed to have courage, fortitude. courage, yes, curiosity, in the end (of which we now have so little left, alas). I bow to them.
    And after all this, let only someone dare to blather that the Arctic should belong to everyone.
    Tear right on the spot !!!
    1. invisibility
      invisibility 23 December 2013 22: 53
      Throughout history, Russia, and then the USSR, was famous for its sons. Serving the state, craving for the unknown, unknown, through deprivation, allowed Russia to become a great country. Both in territory and in spirit. This craving, now, is being killed by today's youth. Bad time, crappy heroes. And real people, here they are ...
  6. invisibility
    invisibility 23 December 2013 22: 56
    I lived for 25 years in the far north. I miss ...