Makarov, Stepan

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Makarov, Stepan Osipovich


Born Dec. 27, 1848 (Jan. 8, 1849), in Nikolaev; died Mar. 31 (Apr. 13), 1904, near Port Arthur. Russian naval commander; oceanographer; polar investigator; shipbuilder; vice admiral (1896). Son of a naval ensign who had risen from the ranks.

In 1865, Makarov graduated from a naval school in Nikolaevsk-na-Amure and in 1869 was promoted to the rank of ensign. He served on ships of the Pacific Ocean Squadron and, from 1871, in the Baltic Fleet. During his time on the armored boat Rusalka he studied problems dealing with the floatability of ships in danger of sinking. In 1876, after being transferred to the Black Sea Fleet, he proposed equipping the steamship Velikii Kniaz’ Konstantin to transport mine-carrying boats to areas where they could attack enemy ships at their moorings. Thus, he was the first to come up with the idea of a mine-carrying ship and the torpedo boat. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 he put this idea into practice and carried out a series of successful attacks on Turkish ships with pole mines. He was also the first to use the self-propelled mine-torpedo invented by R. Whitehead.

In 1881, while commanding the guard steamship Taman’, he conducted hydrological work in the Bosporus and wrote the book On the Exchange of Waters Between the Black and Mediterranean Seas (1885), which was awarded a prize by the Russian Academy of Sciences. In 1882-86 he served again in the Baltic Fleet. From 1886 to 1889, while commanding the corvette Vitiaz’ he sailed around the world; during this cruise he carried out systematic oceanographic research, which was particularly detailed in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean. Makarov summarized this work in his The “Vitiaz’ “and the Pacific Ocean (vols. 1-2, 1894). He was appointed junior flag officer in the Baltic Fleet in 1890 and chief inspector of naval artillery in 1891. During the 1890’s he invented armor-piercing caps (called Makarov tips) for artillery shells; they significantly increased the penetrating force of the shell. In late 1894 he became commander of the Mediterranean Sea Squadron. During 1894-96 he made a second trip around the world. He left St. Petersburg and reached the Mediterranean Sea in late 1894 and in 1895 traveled with the squadron under his command from the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal to the Far East. In 1896 he crossed the Pacific Ocean to North America, traveled across the USA, and returned to Russia across the Atlantic Ocean.

In 1896, Makarov commanded a squadron of the Baltic Fleet. He proposed the idea of building a powerful icebreaker to investigate the arctic and directed the building of the icebreaker Ermak. In 1897 he published his major work (Discourses on Questions of Naval Tactics, 2nd ed., 1943), in which he set forth the fundamentals of the tactics of the armored steam-powered fleet, substantiated the necessity of cooperation between artillery and mine-torpedo ships in battle and the advisability of using the formation in column for armored squadrons, and formulated the principles of antisubmarine and torpedo defense. In March 1899, Makarov traveled on the Ermak from Newcastle to Kronstadt, passing through the ice of the Gulf of Finland, and then made a voyage to Revel. In June to August of the same year he made two test runs to the arctic on the Ermak, reaching 81° 21’ N lat. to the north of Spitsbergen. In 1901 he sailed in the Barents Sea under difficult ice conditions and twice approached Franz Josef Land and the northwestern coast of Novaia Zemlia.

In 1899 he became chief commander of the Port of Kronstadt. In his book Without Sails (1903) he dealt with problems of training and educating naval personnel during peacetime. After the start of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 he was appointed commander of the Pacific Ocean Squadron (February 1 [14]), and he arrived in Port Arthur on February 24 (March 8). He successfully directed ship actions during the defense of Port Arthur but perished soon after when the armor-clad flagship Petropavlovsk hit a mine and sank. In 1913 a monument to Makarov (created by L. V. Shervud) was built in Kronstadt.


“O nepotopliaemosti sudov.” Morskoi sbornik, 1875, no. 6.
Razbor elementov, sostavliaiushchikh boevuiu silu sudov. St. Petersburg, 1894.
Ob issledovanii Severnogo Ledovitogo okeana. St. Petersburg, 1897.
“Ermak” vo l’dakh, parts 1-2. St. Petersburg, 1901.
Bronenostsy Hi bezbronnye suda? St. Petersburg, 1905.
Okeanograficheskie raboty. Moscow, 1950.


S. O. Makarov: Dokumenty, vols. 1-2. Moscow, 1953.
Wrangel, F. F. Vitse-admiral S. O. Makarov: Biograficheskie ocherki, parts 1-2. St. Petersburg, 1911-13.
Krylov, A. N. Vitse-admiral Makarov. Moscow, 1944.
Eremeev, L. M. Admiral Makarov. Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.


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