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Vitus Bering

1681-1741, Danish seafarer. In 1704 Bering went into Russian service and became a second lieutenant in the newly formed Russian navy, where he distinguished himself during the Great Nordic War and was promoted to commander.

In 1724 Bering was selected to lead an expedition which was to travel through Siberia to the Pacific to investigate if there was a North East Passage or if Siberia was connected with the North American continent. It took this large-scale First Kamchatka Expedition (1725-30) two years to reach Okhotsk. There a ship was built which carried the expedition across to the Kamchatka peninsula where the actual expedition ship was built.

In the summer of 1728 Bering sailed so far north without seeing Alaska that he believed he had established that Asia and America were not connected and that the North East Passage therefore existed.


Bering was also the leader of the Second Kamchatka Expedition (1733-43), perhaps the largest scientific expedition ever, which through a series of sub-expeditions was to chart the northern coasts of Siberia and the Pacific, carry out scientific research of the enormous area, send ships to America and Japan, and generally promote Russian commercial and territorial interests.

A number of these tasks were accomplished and in 1741 Bering himself reached Alaska. On the return journey he had to put into a port of refuge on Bering Island some 200 kilometres east of the Kamchatka peninsula, where he and almost half his crew perished. Bering's grave was discovered in 1991 by Danish archaeologists taking part in a Russian expedition.

Ole Ventegodt, Gyldendal Leksikon

other great danes

The lives and achievements of all these Great Danes and many more are outlined in biographies of varying lengths on these pages. Read more about The Great Danes