Searching for Willem Barentsz’ vessel

Willem Barentsz' ship stranded on Novaya Zemlya in 1569 (Picture from Wikipedia)

A group of Russian scientists this week leaves for Novaya Zemlya to search for Willem Barentsz’ ship “Mercury”.


The scientists will leave Arkhangelsk on September 28 and sail for the Arctic archipelago of Novaya Zemlya to search for the legendary ship. “The aim of the expedition is not to raise the vessel, but to collect artifacts: cannons, cannonballs, anchor and weapons”, says Igor Ymelyanov, who will join the expedition as journalist and filmmaker, Vesti reports.

Willem Barentsz stranded with his vessel and a crew of 16 persons on Novaya Zemlya on July 17 1569 in an attempt to sail through the Northeast Passage. After having spent nearly a year trapped in ice, Barentsz and his crew tried to escape from Novaya Zemlya on two small boats. Barentsz himself died only seven days after starting out. The 12 surviving crew members were rescued by a Russian vessel nearly two months later.

The wooden lodge where Barentsz’ crew sheltered during the year spent on Novaya was found undisturbed by Norwegian seal hunter Elling Carlsen in 1871. So far nobody has managed to find Barentsz’ vessel “Mercury”.