200 years ago Russian sailors discovered Antarctica


M.M.Semenov. Sloops “Vostok” and “Mirny” in Antarctica

200 years ago, on January 28 (January 16, old style), 1820, the Russian naval expedition of Lazarev and Bellingshausen discovered Antarctica. This greatest geographical discovery of Russian sailors is kept silent by the entire “world community”.

How Russian sailors discovered the Ice Continent

Even ancient geographers believed that in the Southern Hemisphere for balance there should be the same mass of land as in the Northern Hemisphere. During the Renaissance, ideas about the existence of a vast Southern continent (“unknown southern continent”, Terra Australia incognita) were given new life. Then the era of the great geographical discoveries began. From time to time, discoveries by Western explorers were considered the discovery of part of a new continent. Magellan discovered Tierra del Fuego, and it was considered part of the vast Southern continent. The northern coast of New Guinea, New Holland (Australia), and New Zealand were taken for part of the southern land, but later these opinions were refuted by new researchers.

At this time, the Dutch, British and French competed, looking for new lands for colonization and plunder. Organized new expeditions. France in the 1760s organized several expeditions to search for the southern continent, but they were not crowned with success. During the second voyage around the world of the famous British traveler D. Cook (1772-1775) London tried to get ahead of the French in the discovery of the southern continent. ” Cook went on a campaign as an ardent supporter of the existence of the sixth continent, but in the end became disillusioned with the idea. In England and France it was decided that in the southern latitudes there were no new lands of any size and their search was pointless.

However, in Russia they thought differently. Many phenomena indicated that the southern continent existed. At the beginning of the 19th century, Russian sailors entered the World Ocean and began to think about studying the southern polar seas. Ivan Kruzenshtern and Yuri Lisyansky in 1803-1806 made the first Russian round the world. In 1807-1809 Vasily Golovnin made a round-the-world voyage on the sloop “Diana”, in 1817-1819 Golovnin made a new round-the-world voyage on the sloop “Kamchatka”. Mikhail Lazarev made round-the-world voyages on the frigate “Suvorov” in 1813-1815. and Otto Kotzebue in the brig “Rurik” in 1815-1818. The results of these travels suggested that the southern continent exists.

To prove this fact, a separate special expedition was required, the purpose of which was one – to find the southern continent. The Russian government was informed about this by the head of the first Russian round-the-world expedition, Ivan Kruzenshtern. The captain offered to organize two trips at once – to the North and South Poles. Each expedition was supposed to have two ships – “Northern Division” and “Southern Division”. The Northern Division, on the sloops Otkrytie and Blagonamerenny, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Mikhail Vasilyev and Lieutenant Commander Gleb Shishmarev, was to open in the north the passage from the Bering Strait to the Atlantic Ocean. The Southern Division was to find the sixth continent. The southern expedition, at the suggestion of Kruzenshtern, was to be led by Thaddeus Bellingshausen (he was a member of the first circumnavigation under the command of Kruzenshtern). The sloop “Vostok” was transferred under his command, the second ship, the sloop “Mirny”, was headed by Lieutenant Mikhail Lazarev. He was an experienced sailor, a participant in the war with the Swedes and the French, the head of the round-the-world voyage on the frigate “Suvorov”.

The purpose of the expedition sounded vague – discoveries “in the possible proximity of the Antarctic Pole.” In fact, the Russian fleet was interested in all the southern waters of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian, oceans. Leaving Kronstadt on July 4 (16), 1819, the ships visited Copenhagen and Portsmouth and arrived in Rio in early November. Until Brazil, the ships of the southern and northern expeditions went together, then separated. Bellingshausen first went straight south, and the expedition on the sloops “Discovery” and “Blagonamerenny” went to the Cape of Good Hope, and from there to the port of Jackson (Sydney) in Australia.

Ships under the command of Bellingshausen rounded the southwestern coast of South Georgia, discovered by Cook, discovered the three islands of the Marquis de Traversay, examined the South Sandwich Islands. Moving south as far as the ice allowed, on January 27, 1820, Russian sailors crossed the South Arctic Circle for the first time in the history of our fleet. And on January 28, the sloops Vostok and Mirny came close to the Antarctic continent. Lieutenant Lazarev later wrote:

“On January 16 (according to the old style. – Auth.) We reached latitude 69 ° 23 ‘S, where we met hard ice of extreme height, and on a beautiful evening, looking at the salinga, it stretched as far as the sight could only reach … we continued on our way to the east, attempting at every opportunity to the south, but we always met the icy continent, not reaching 70 ° … Finally, that mother land in the south was opened, which they had been looking for for so long and whose existence the philosophers sitting in their offices considered necessary for equilibrium of the globe ”.

The Russian pioneers did not stop there, continuing to go east, they repeatedly tried to go further south. But every time they were stopped by “hardened ice”. This convinced the researchers that they were dealing with the mainland, not islands or ice. In early February, the Russian ships turned north to Australia. Having repaired ships and replenished supplies, the sloops went to the Pacific Ocean in May, discovered several islands and atolls (Vostok, Simonova, Mikhailova, Suvorov, Russians, etc.). Then the expedition returned to Port Jackson (Sydney) and in November 1820 again moved to the South Pole seas.

Without abandoning their attempts to go as far south as possible, Russian sailors crossed the Arctic Circle three times, at the beginning of 1821 they discovered a number of new lands, including the island “Peter I”, “Land of Alexander I” (the largest island in Antarctica). In total, during the expedition, 29 islands and one coral reef were discovered. Then “Vostok” and “Mirny” from the South Shetland Islands headed for Rio de Janeiro, and from there – across the Atlantic to Europe. On July 24 (August 5), 1821, after a 751-day campaign, the expedition returned to Kronstadt. During this time, Russian ships have covered about 100 thousand km! Russian sailors have made the greatest geographical discovery since the beginning of the 19th century – they discovered the unknown southern continent, Antarctica!


Leaders of the First Russian Antarctic Expedition

Russian priority

The grandiose geographical discovery of Russian sailors is hushed up in the world. The entire “world community” pretends that Antarctica opened by itself. Moreover, England and the United States tried to arrogate to themselves priority in the discovery of the southern continent. It is worth noting that a characteristic feature of the “world community” is its reluctance to recognize the priority of Russia and the Russians in any area and under any guise.

Our liberal Westernizers are fully adjusting to Western standards. Therefore, they like to shout at every corner about the “savagery” and “backwardness” of Russia, currying favor with their Western masters. We must remember that the greatness of Russian history lies not only in its military victories and the hard work of its people, but also in the enormous contribution that Russians have made to world science, to the cause of humanity’s understanding of itself and the world around it.

Out of nobility and kindness (other nations immediately staked out the Ice Continent), the Russians declared Antarctica, open and rightfully theirs, as an international zone. In modern conditions, when the sixth continent is the only uninhabited and undeveloped continent of the planet, interest in its resources (including fresh water) has increased significantly. Many countries have territorial claims in Antarctica, including Norway, England, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, etc. The Third Reich also had its own program for the development of the continent. The United States and China have special interests in the region.

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