Laptev, Khariton Prokofievich (1700–1763)
Laptev, Khariton Prokofievich (1700–1763) – a Russian Arctic explorer, captain, and participant of the Great Northern Expedition. He was a cousin of D. Ya. Laptev. In 1715, he entered the Naval Academy and after 3 years became a midshipman; in 1726, L. was promoted to the rank of subofficer. Until 1737 he sailed on ships of the Baltic Fleet. In December 1737, L. was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and appointed commander of the dubel boat “Yakutsk” during the Great Northern Expedition to survey the coast of the Arctic Ocean from the river of Lena to the river of Yenisei. In May 1739 he arrived in Yakutsk. He sailed down the Lena on the dubel boat and, following westward along the coast, discovered and described the bay and island of Preobrazheniya (Transfiguration). Then he reached the Cape Faddey but because of the ice turned back and spent the winter in the lower reaches of the river of Khatanga. In the summer of 1740, he sailed to 75°26’N but was trapped by ice. Having left the ship and unloaded all stocks on ice, he went ashore with the team and returned to their previous wintering camp. In November, the detachment was divided into three parties and began surveying Taymyr on land, crossed the peninsula on dogs to the point of the inflow of the Lower Taymyr to the Taymyr Bay, and after turning reached the Cape Sterlegov.
On June 1, 1741, L. met with the party of Semyon Chelyuskin near the Cape Lehmann. In the late August, he arrived on boats in Turukhansk. On the way he made a route survey of the bank of the Yenisei. On December 5, he sent Semyon Chelyuskin to finish surveys of the northeastern coastal area of Taymyr between Cape Faddey and the mouth of the Lower Taymyr River. On July 20, 1742, all works were completed. Laptev’s team performed the first cartographic survey of the coast between the rivers of Lena and Yenisei in the history. During the winter of 1742–1743, the researcher prepared two maps and a detailed description of the work and left for St. Petersburg. In October 1743, the Admiralty Board heard his report “Description made by Navy Lieutenant Khariton Laptev during the Kamchatka Expedition between the Lena and Yenisei Rivers of the Condition of the Rivers as well as of all the Entrepreneurs living there.” In 1746–1758, when commanding various ships, he sailed the Baltic, North, Barents, and White seas. In 1746, he participated in the drafting of the “General Map of the Russian Empire.”
In 1752, he was assistant director of the Naval Gentry Cadet Corps. During the Seven Years’ War, Captain 2nd Rank Laptev led the warship “Uriel” and participated in the naval blockade of the Prussian coast. In 1758 he was made captain 1st rank. From 1762 he served as Oberster Kriegskommissar (head of supplies) of the fleet.
His name was given to a cape in the Gulf of Taymyr and the Laptev Sea (named after D.Ya. Laptev and Kh. P. Laptev), a coast between the rivers of Pyasina and Taymyr. On August 15, 1980, a monument to Kh. P. Laptev, S. I. Chelyuskin, and their comrades was erected on the bank of the Khatanga River, near the place of the winter camp of the dubel boat “Yakutsk.”
Laptev’s major work is the “Description made by Navy Lieutenant Khariton Laptev during the Kamchatka Expedition between the Lena and Yenisei Rivers of the Condition of the Rivers as well as of all the Entrepreneurs living there” (1851, 1982).