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Simon Dezhnev

Semen Ivanovich Dezhnev (1605-1672), Russian Cossack navigator, who in 1648 made the first recorded voyage through the Bering Strait.

Simon Dezhnev (first name also spelled Semeon or Semyen, middle name also spelled Ivanov) was born in the region adjacent to the White Sea (possibly Pinega), Dezhnev entered government service in about 1630 and travelled widely in Siberia (collecting tribute from the residents), reaching Yakutsk (1638), from where he travelled between the Lena, Yana[?], Indigirka[?] and Kolyma[?] rivers for the next nine years.

In June 1647, with Fedot Alexeyev, a trader, and 50 men in 4 koches, he attempted an abortive voyage from the Kolyma[?] to the Anadyr, but at that time coasted only a little to the east of the mouth of the Kolyma. A second, successful attempt was undertaken in June 1648 with 7 koches and 90 men in four groups: 29 with Fedot Alekseyev, 10 under Aleksey Andreyev and Bezson Astaf'yev, 18 with Dezhnev and the remainder a detachment under Gerasim Ankudinov. Leaving Sredne-Kolymsk (20 June 1648), they reached the mouth of the Kolyma (July 1648), sailed east and rounded Mys Dezhneva (also called East Cape[?]). Having then continued southwest (to the region of Cape Chaplina[?]), Dezhnev and 25 crew were shipwrecked on the coast (Oct 1648), while Alexeyev was separated by the storm and never seen again. The location of coastal landmarks described by Dezhnev are the subject of intense research. Passing overland Dezhnev reached the lower Anadyr after a further ten weeks.

The following spring (1649), the survivors ascended the Anadyr and founded the post of Anadyrsk, near present Markovo. On the Anadyr Dezhnev met up with a party under his rival Mikhail Stadukhin[?], and a smaller force under Semen Motora, who had pioneered a land route from Yakutsk. Dezhnev stayed on the Anadyr, for some time exploring the region with Motora, until May 1659 and returned overland via Nizhne-Kolymsk (May 1660) and Zhigansk (on the lower Lena) (autumn 1660) to Yakutsk (spring 1661).

Leaving Yakutsk (July 1662) with Ivan Yerastov, he returned to Moscow, arriving in Sept 1664. He returned to Yakutsk in 1666 from where his son, by Dezhnev's Yakut wife, served with Vladimir Atlasov in the latter's conquest of Kamchatka. In 1898 the easternmost point of Asia was named Mys Dezhneva in his honour.

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