Vitus Jonassen Bering


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Bering, Vitus Jonassen

 

(in documents, frequently Ivan Ivanovich Bering). Born in 1681; died Dec. 8, 1741. Navigator, officer of the Russian fleet, and captain-commander. Danish by birth. Invited into Russian service in 1703.

Bering sailed in the Baltic and Azov fleets until 1724. In 1725 he was appointed chief of the first Kamchatka expedition (1725–30), the official purpose of which was to resolve the question of the presence of an isthmus or strait between Asia and America. Bering’s aide, A. I. Chirikov, played an important role in the organization and work of the expedition. The expedition sailed around the eastern coast of Kamchatka and the southern and eastern shores of Chukotka; it passed unwittingly through the strait which was later named after Bering to 67°18’, where it lost sight of land. It then returned, without having resolved the question of a strait.

In 1733, Bering was appointed chief of the second Kamchatka expedition. He was to cross Siberia and to set out from Kamchatka to explore the shores of North America. On July 17, 1741, Bering reached the shores of North America on the vessel St. Peter. He discovered several of the Aleutian Islands. Bering died on the way back during the party’s winter stay on the island that bears his name. The sea in the north Pacific Ocean is also named after Bering.

REFERENCES

Berg, L. S.Otkrytie Kamchatki i ekspeditsii Beringa, 1725–1742, 3rd ed. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946.
Belov, M. I. Arkticheskoe moreplavanie s drevneishikh vremen do serediny 19 v. Moscow, 1956.
Grekov, V. I. Ocherki iz istorii russkikh geograficheskikh issledovanii ν 1725–1765 gg. Moscow, 1960.
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