Wreck found near North Pole recalls courageous exploits of Florence Nightingale’s cousin

Divers have confirmed that a shipwreck off Franz Josef Land in the Russian Arctic is that of forgotten British explorer Benjamin Leigh Smith.

Discovered near Northbrook Island, where Mr Leigh Smith and his men survived 10 months of brutal cold before miraculously making it to safety, the 130-foot wooden steam yacht Eira is the northernmost shipwreck yet found.

It also provides a window into climate change, as the Franz Josef Land archipelago is now free of the summertime ice floes that crushed the ship in 1881.

Scientists from St Petersburg’s Maritime Heritage association first saw the wreck of Mr Leigh Smith, the uncle of famous nurse Florence Nightingale,¬†on the sonar of their sailing yacht…

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