We've recently been contacted by Vladimir Melnik of Open Ocean: Arctic Archipelagos, Russia who has been involved in the exploration of the wreck of Leigh-Smith's ship the EIRA. Vladimir spends a lot of time working on wreck explorations and has told us Cape Neale in Franz Josef Land is one of his favourite locations.
Major discovery of Ben Leigh Smith’s vessel which sank off Franz Josef Land in 1881 sandwiched between two giant icebergs.
The intrepid explorer had set out on 14 June 1881 on the Eira, with 25 crew, a cat, a canary and Bob the dog. His key interest was deep sea currents, as well as seeking new territories in the Arctic. But they were forced to spend ten months including a bitter winter in the Franz Josef Land archipelago in the Arctic.
En route to the Arctic, a remarkable photograph records a meeting at sea with two other ships from Peterhead.
Leigh Smith entertained the senior crew members on board the Eira, including Arthur Conan Doyle, then the ship's surgeon on the Hope, which with a new crew would be one of the vessels that rescued them in 1882.
The Siberian Times Source.
Published: 28th October 2018