Fedor Ushakov

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ushakov, Fedor Fedorovich


Born 1744, in the village of Burnakovo, now in Tutaev Raion, Yaroslavl Oblast; died Oct. 2 (14), 1817, in the village of Alekseevka, now in Temnikov Raion, Mordovian ASSR. Russian naval commander; admiral (1799).

Born into a noble family of modest means, Ushakov graduated from the Naval Cadet Corps in 1766 and served in the Baltic Fleet. In 1769 he joined the Don (Azov) Flotilla and subsequently fought in the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–74. In 1775 he was placed in command of a frigate. In 1780 he was appointed commander of the imperial yacht, but he soon chose not to pursue a court career. From 1780 to 1782 he was commander of the ship of the line Viktor, which protected Russian merchant vessels in the Mediterranean from the piratical actions of the British. Beginning in 1783, he was with the Black Sea Fleet. He supervised the construction of ships in Kherson and was involved in the construction of the main base at Sevastopol’.

At the beginning of the Russo-Turkish War of 1787–91, Ushakov was given command of the ship of the line Sv. Pavel. In 1788, commanding a squadron vanguard, he defeated the Turkish superior forces at what is now the island of Zmeinyi. The following year he was promoted to rear admiral, and in 1780 he was placed in command of the entire Black Sea Fleet. He soon won brilliant victories over the Turks in the Kerch’ Naval Battle (1790), at Tendra Island (1790), and at Cape Kaliakra (1791), in all of which he made use of the new mobile tactics he had developed; these tactics differed fundamentally from the customary linear tactics of the time.

The principal features of Ushakov’s tactics were as follows: the use of unified station and battle orders and the method of closing with the enemy without reorganization of the battle order, the direction of the main efforts against the enemy’s flagships, the maintenance of a reserve (the “Kaiser flag squadron”), the use of both aimed artillery fire and maneuvering, and pursuit of the enemy until destruction or capture. Attaching great importance to the seamanship and firing skills of personnel, Ushakov was an adherent of Suvorov’s principles of training subordinates.

Ushakov was promoted to vice admiral in 1793. In the course of the Mediterranean campaign of 1798–1800, he showed himself to be an outstanding naval commander, as well as a skillful politician and diplomat during the negotiations for the creation of the Greek Septinsular Republic under the protectorate of Russia and Turkey. He displayed exemplary models of coordinating the actions of the army and navy during the capture of the Ionian Islands and especially the island of Corfu (Kerkira), during the liberation of Italy from the French, during the blockade of Ancona and Genoa, and during the capture of Naples and Rome. In 1800, Ushakov’s squadron returned to Sevastopol’.

Ushakov’s achievements were not valued by Alexander I, who appointed him to the secondary post of chief commander of the Baltic Rowing Fleet and chief of the fleet commands in St. Petersburg; in 1807, Alexander dismissed Ushakov.

During the Patriotic War of 1812, Ushakov was appointed chief of the militia of Tambov Province, but owing to illness he declined the post. He died on his estate and was buried in Sinaksar Monastery near the city of Temnikov.

A bay in the southeastern part of the Barents Sea and a cape on the northern shore of the Sea of Okhotsk have been named after Ushakov. Warships in the Russian and Soviet navies have borne Ushakov’s name. On Mar. 3, 1944, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR established two classes of the military Order of Ushakov and the Ushakov Medal.


Admiral Ushakov: Sb. dokumentov, vols. 1–3. Moscow, 1951–56.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.