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The wreck of a lost 19th century British steamboat has been found in a Siberian river just 50 miles (80km) below the Arctic Circle.
A Russian team found The Thames, which sank in 1877, in the Yenisei close to the port of Turukhansk.
The vessel was captained by colourful and audacious Victorian mariner Joseph Wiggins, a pioneer of the Northern Sea Route which he hoped to use to tap the potential riches of Siberia.

A Russian team found The Thames, which sank in 1877, in the Yenisei close to the port of Turukhansk. The vessel was carrying a cargo of graphite bound for Britain when it ran into trouble in icy waters in the wilds of northern Russia


THE NORTHEAST PASSAGE

The Northeast passage traverses the Arctic following Russia’s and Norway’s coasts.
It was discovered in 1850 by Robert McClure. But at the time, no one was able to navigate it.
Throughout the late 1880s, explorers were obsessed with finding a way through the Passage.
It was a tricky route. The Thames, with its seasoned crew, the first ocean vessel to enter the Yenisei, but soon struck ice before sinking.
The first to be able to navigate the passage was Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen in an expedition that ran from 1903-06
The first cruise ship is due to travel the route next week.
The vessel was carrying a cargo of graphite bound for Britain when it ran into trouble in icy waters in the wilds of northern Russia, some 916 miles (1,475km) north of regional capital Krasnoyarsk.
It was the first vessel of its kind to penetrate the Yenisei from the Arctic in 1876, before sinking the following year.
The explorers left on a catamaran from the town of Turukhansk, 916 miles (1,475 kilometres) north of Krasnoyarsk, aiming to sail more than 560 miles (900 km) in an attempt to reach Dikson Island in the Kara Sea.
In 1876, after anchoring for the winter, they began to travel up river through the Northeast Passage.
But the ship soon ran aground in the icy water, and sank to the bottom.
The captain and his British crew survived the disaster, and travelled back home overland.
Captain Wiggins continued to sail through hazardous Arctic waters, and even supplied rail tracks for the Trans-Siberian railway line.
In all, he twice sailed up the Ob River – the world’s seventh longest – and five times carried cargoes to the Yenisei.

The Thames was found by Nikolay Karelin and Alexander Goncharov (pictured) who teach history at the Siberian State Aerospace University, during a 30-day summer catamaran odyssey on the Yenisei in honour of the British seafarer

The explorers left on a catamaran from the town of Turukhansk, 916 miles (1,475 kilometres) north of Krasnoyarsk, aiming to sail more than 560 miles (900 km) in an attempt to reach Dikson Island in the Kara Sea
The discovery was reported by a Siberian news website, which has now launched a search for descendants of the Captain Wiggins amid hopes the vessel will be lifted from its watery grave in future.
The Thames was found by Dr Nikolay Karelin and Dr Alexander Goncharov, who teach history at the Siberian State Aerospace University, during a 30-day summer catamaran odyssey on the Yenisei funded by the Russian Geographical Society in honour of the British seafarer.
‘We knew that The Thames was there somewhere. We went looking through old maps and charts,’ Dr Goncharov told The Independent. 

The vessel was captained by colourful and audacious Victorian mariner Joseph Wiggins (pictured), a pioneer of the Northern Sea Route which he hoped to use to tap the potential riches of Siberia. In his lifetime, Wiggins was honoured by Russian tsar Alexander III

Expedition finds the wreck of an English steamboat lost in Siberia. The team were near a bend in the river at the village of Goroshikha when they found the shipwreck
The team were near a bend in the river at the village of Goroshikha.
‘We had sonar and a camera that was submergible, but the water is very murky there so we didn’t get good resolution.
‘We did a few dives. And there it was, the stern section, about maybe half a metre coming up from the sand.’
The captain is regarded as an important historic figure in pioneering access to and from Siberia by boat, and his achievement will be marked next year in Russia on the 140th anniversary of the vessel’s loss.
In his lifetime, Mr Wiggins was honoured by Russian tsar Alexander III.

‘We knew that The Thames was there somewhere. We went looking through old maps and charts,’ Dr Goncharov told The Independent. ‘We had sonar and a camera that was submergible, but the water is very murky there so we didn’t get good resolution’

A memorial cross the expedition erected in memory of Russian sailors
At the time the Wiggins sea and river route to the heart of Siberia was hailed as an ‘event rivalling in importance the return of the first fleet loaded with merchandise from India’.
Modern Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin is once again demanding that Russia exploits the Arctic Ocean for commercial sea traffic, and the last few years have seen a huge increase in shipping there, boosted by climate change which has reduced the ice in these waters.
The same researchers also believe they have found the wreck of Russian clipper Northern Lights which sank the same winter in the Yenisei. In this case, the sailors were less fortunate and some perished.
Full details of the two discoveries are due to be published in scientific journals.

The wreck of another boat – Russian Norther Light – was also found by the expedition. This boat sank the same winter in the Yenisei. In this case, the sailors were less fortunate and some perished

The Russian Geographical Society float used to make the discovery is pictured. Full details of the two discoveries are due to be published in scientific journals

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