Willem Barents

Dutch Navigator & Explorer

Born: 1550

Died: 1597

Dutch navigator who searched for a northeastern passage from Europe to Asia. The Barents Sea, which he crossed in three different years, and Barents Islands were named after him. Barents is known for the accurate Charts, maps, and meteorological he collected on his extensive voyages in the Arctic.

The first of his voyages began in 1594, when he reached the northeastern extremity of Novaya Zemla islands and returned. The following year, he participated in a second unsuccessful expedition to find a northeastern passage to Asia.

On his third voyage, which began in May 1596, Barents discovered and named Spitsbergen Island (Svalbard), north of Norway. At that point, the expeditions two ships split up and began to explore the coastline separately. During the course of his voyage, Barentsís ship became in ice on the open sea north of Novaya Zemla for the winter. In June of 1597, Barents and his crew attempted to reach land in an open boat, braving near freezing waters, rough seas, and ever-present dangers all around. Barents failed to survive the trip, but his companions did, reaching the shores of Laplands and were rescued.

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