The Eastern Arctic Seas Encyclopedia

2016 Edition
| Editors: Igor S. Zonn, Andrey G. Kostianoy, Aleksandr V. Semenov

Chelyuskin, Semyon Ivanovich (1707–1764)

Reference work entry

Chelyuskin, Semyon Ivanovich (1707–1764) – captain of the 3rd rank, a participant of the Great Northern Expedition, and an explorer of the Taymyr Peninsula. In 1714, he entered the Naval School, a year later he was transferred to the Naval Academy, but in 1716 he returned to Moscow as “malodvorny.” In 1728 he was promoted to junior navigator (podshturman) and served in the Baltic Fleet. In 1733 he was promoted to navigator and enlisted in the Great Northern Expedition (Second Kamchatka Expedition) as part of the group led by V.V. Pronchishchev. In the summer of 1735, traveling on board the double boat “Yakutsk,” he went downstream the Lena River from Yakutsk. Then, going by sea, he traveled to the mouth of the Olenyok River where he passed the winter. As a product of his expedition to the west of the mouth of the Lena, he charted the river’s length from Yakutsk to the sea, under the title “The map drawn in 1735 and contained in the log-book of the double boat Yakutsk, charting the territory from the town of Yakutsk to the Arctic Ocean, the map drawn by the navigator Semyon Chelyuskin.”

It was the first known map of the Lena River, made with the use of special tools. In 1736, on board the “Yakutsk,” he navigated along the coast to the west, toward the mouth of the Anabar River, then turned north and went beyond the 77028′ of the northern latitude, discovering uncharted islands (The Komsomolskaya Pravda Islands). Because of the “great ice” on August 20, the vessel turned back and was wintering in the mouth of the Olenyok River, where V.V. Pronchishchev died. In the winter, having prepared the account for 1736, Ch. went to Yakutsk, where in the summer of 1737 the double boat was brought to by boatswain V. Medvedev. In the summer of 1739, on board the “Yakutsk” (with the team led by Kh.P. Laptev), navigating from the mouth of the Lena River to the west, he participated in the opening of the Bay of Noordwijk and the Preobrazheniya Island at the entrance of the Khatanga Bay. At Cape Thaddeus, he turned back and returned to winter in the Khatanga River.

In the winter of 1739–1740, together with Kh.P. Laptev and N. Chekin, he wrote an account and brief “Description of the sea shores, of rivers and bays of the North Sea, beginning from the Lena River.” All these materials contained valuable information on the Taymyr Peninsula. In the summer of 1740 on board the vessel “Yakutsk,” he navigated north to latitude 72026′, where the ship was damaged by the ice to a hopeless condition and abandoned by the crew, which then returned to Khatanga. In the spring of 1741, Ch. drove three sled dog teams overland to the mouth of the Pyasina River and started his mapping of the coast of Taymyr. At Mys Lemana (Cape Leman), he met with Kh.P. Laptev, who was coming in the opposite direction from the Lower Taymyra River. In late summer, he arrived in Turukhansk.

In December 1741, he traveled by dog sleds to the mouth of the Khatanga, from where he went north to Cape Thaddeus and mapped the coast to the northernmost point of the continent (Cape Chelyuskin). Then he turned southwest, and, continuing the mapping of the territories, in 1741 he joined the same route as Laptev. In the autumn of 1742, he arrived in Yeniseysk, where the full team led by Kh.P. Laptev reunited, and, with a report of the Admiralty Board on the successful exploration, he set out on the first sleigh road to St. Petersburg.

In 1742, he was promoted to the rank of midshipman. From 1745 to 1756, he served in the Baltic Fleet and was in command of a number of yachts. In 1756, he was awarded the rank of lieutenant commander. In August 1760, he was promoted to Captain of the 3rd rank and dismissed from service.

He gave his name to a cape in Vilkitsky Strait, to a number of islands in the Taymyr Bay of the Kara Sea and in the mouth of the Pyasina River, as well as a peninsula in the Taymyr, and to a famous steamboat, destroyed (crushed by ice) in 1934 in the Chukchi Sea.

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