Fyodor Ushakov

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Fyodor Ushakov
Born(1745-02-24)24 February 1745
Burnakovo, Yaroslavl Oblast, Russian Empire
Died14 October 1817(1817-10-14) (aged 72)
Alekseevka  [ ru ], Tambov Governorate, Russian Empire
AllegianceFlag of The Russian Empire 1883.svg  Russia
Service/branchNaval Ensign of Russia.svg  Imperial Russian Navy
Years of service1766–1812
Rank Admiral
Commands heldBlack Sea Fleet
Battles/wars Russo-Turkish War (1768–74)
Russo-Turkish War (1787–92)

War of the Second Coalition

Monument to Admiral Fyodor Ushakov for the battle of Cape Kaliakra, Kaliakra, Kavarna Monument, Admiral Fyodor Ushakov, Kaliakra, Kavarna, Bulgaria.jpg
Monument to Admiral Fyodor Ushakov for the battle of Cape Kaliakra, Kaliakra, Kavarna

Fyodor Fyodorovich Ushakov (Russian :Фёдор Фёдорович Ушако́в,IPA:  [ʊʂɐˈkof] ; 24 February [ O.S. 13 February] 174514 October [ O.S. 2 October] 1817) was the most illustrious Russian naval commander and admiral of the 18th century.


Life and naval career

Ushakov was born in the village of Burnakovo in the Yaroslavl gubernia, to a modest family of the minor nobility. His father, Fyodor Ignatyevich Ushakov, was a retired sergeant of the Preobrazhensky regiment of the Russian Imperial guards [1] . By the time Fyodor Ushakov submitted his statement of background (skaska) to the military, his family had not been officially confirmed in the so-called 'dvoryanstvo', yet they surely belonged to serving gentry [1] . In the submission Ushakov stated that he neither had a coat-of-arms, nor a royal patent for a landed estate, and had no way to prove nobility [1] . In 1798, Fyodor Ushakov, as a vice-admiral of the Black Sea Navy, submitted a request for official nobility and an arms providing a genealogical record [1] . In 1807 his coat-of-arms was added to the General all-Russian book heraldry [1] . In 1815 Fyodor Ushakov and his family were added to the part 6 (ancient nobility) of the Yaroslavl genealogical book [1] .

On 15 February 1761, he signed up for the Russian Navy in Saint Petersburg. After training, he served on a galley in the Baltic Fleet. In 1768 he was transferred to the Don Flotilla (Azov Sea Navy) in Taganrog, and served in the Russo-Turkish War (1768–74). He commanded Catherine II's own yacht, and was active in protecting Russian merchant ships in the Mediterranean during First League of Armed Neutrality.

After the Russian Empire conquered Crimean Khanate in 1783, Ushakov personally supervised the construction of a naval base in Sevastopol and the building of docks in Kherson. During the Russo-Turkish War (1787–92), he defeated the Ottomans at Fidonisi (1788), Kerch Strait (1790), Tendra (1790), and Cape Kaliakra (1791). In these battles, he demonstrated the ingenuity of his innovative doctrines in the art of naval warfare.

In 1798 Ushakov was promoted to full admiral and given command of a squadron which sailed to the Mediterranean via Constantinople, where it joined with a Ottoman squadron. The combined Russian-Ottoman fleet then operated under Ushakov's command in the War of the Second Coalition against the French Republic. The expedition started by conquering the Ionian islands, acquired by France the year before from the defunct Republic of Venice in the Treaty of Campo Formio. This action culminated in the Siege of Corfu (1798–1799), and led to the subsequent creation of the Septinsular Republic. Ushakov's squadron then blockaded French bases in Italy, notably Genoa and Ancona, and successfully assaulted Naples and Rome.

Tsar Paul, in his capacity as the Grand Master of the Order of St. John, ordered Ushakov to proceed to Malta, which a British fleet under Nelson was assisting in besieging.

Grave of Ushakov in Sanaksar Abbey Mogila Ushakov F F.jpg
Grave of Ushakov in Sanaksar Abbey

However, after appearing off the coast of Malta Ushakov was almost immediately recalled to Russia in 1800, where the new Emperor, Alexander I, failed to appreciate his victories. Ushakov resigned command in 1807 and withdrew into the Sanaksar Monastery in modern-day Mordovia. He was asked to command the local militia during the Patriotic War of 1812 but declined.

In the course of 43 naval battles under his command he did not lose a single ship and never lost a battle.


Distinguishing features of Ushakov's tactics were: use of unified marching and fighting orders; resolute closing to close quarters with the enemy forces without evolution of a fighting order; concentration of effort against enemy flagships; maintaining a reserve (Kaiser-flag squadrons); combination of aimed artillery fire and maneuvering; and chasing the enemy to its total destruction or capture. Giving great value to sea and fire training of his staff, Ushakov was a supporter of generalissimo Suvorov's principles of training for sailors and officers. Ushakov's innovations were among the first successful developments of naval tactics, from its "line" to maneuvering concepts.


The statue of Ushakov in Saransk Sobornaia ploshchad' g. Saranska.jpg
The statue of Ushakov in Saransk

Several warships have been named after Admiral Ushakov.

On 3 March 1944 the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR established the Order of Ushakov for Navy officers who showed outstanding achievement leading to victory over a numerically superior enemy. This medal was one of several which was preserved in Russia upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union, thus remaining one of the highest military awards in the Russian Federation. The Ushakov Medal was established simultaneously for servicemen who had risked their life in naval theatres defending the Soviet Union. In May 2014, the medal was presented to 19 surviving British sailors who had served on the Arctic convoys during World War II in a ceremony aboard HMS Belfast. [2]

The Baltic Naval Institute in Kaliningrad also carries his name. The minor planet 3010 Ushakov, discovered by Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Ivanovna Chernykh in 1978, is named after him. [3]

In 1953 two Soviet films were released portraying his career Attack from the Sea and Admiral Ushakov . In both films he was played by Ivan Pereverzev.


The Russian Orthodox Church glorified Ushakov as a patron saint of the Russian Navy in 2000. His relics are preserved in Sanaksar Monastery.

In 2005, in the Cathedral of St. Theodore Ushakov in Saransk (Mordovia), Patriarch Alexius II declared Saint Feodor Ushakov the patron saint of Russian nuclear-armed strategic bombers.

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Овчинников В.Д. Адмирал Ф.Ф. Ушаков: архивные документы против легенд//Вестник архивиста. №2, 2012.
  2. John Naughton (22 May 2014). "Arctic Convoy veterans honoured by Russia on HMS Belfast". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  3. Dictionary of Minor Planet Names - p.247