Fyodor Fyodorovich Ushakov
24 February 1745|
Burnakovo, Yaroslavl Oblast, Russian Empire
14 October 1817 (aged 72)|
Alekseevka, Tambov Governorate, Russian Empire
|Service/||Imperial Russian Navy|
|Years of service||1766–1812|
|Commands held||Black Sea Fleet|
Fyodor Fyodorovich Ushakov (Russian: Фёдор Фёдорович Ушако́в, IPA: [ʊʂɐˈkof]; 24 February [O.S. 13 February] 1745 – 14 October [O.S. 2 October] 1817) was the most illustrious Russian naval commander and admiral of the 18th century.
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. 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. 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. 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. In 1807 his coat-of-arms was added to the General all-Russian book heraldry. In 1815 Fyodor Ushakov and his family were added to the part 6 (ancient nobility) of the Yaroslavl genealogical book.
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 later defended Russian merchant ships in the Mediterranean from British naval attacks.
After the Russian Empire annexed Crimea 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 brilliantly defeated the Turks at Fidonisi (1788), Kerch Strait (1790), Tendra (1790), and Cape Kaliakra (1791). In these battles, he demonstrated the excellence of his innovative doctrines in the art of naval fighting.
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 Turkish squadron. The Russian-Turkish fleet then operated under Ushakov's command in the War of the Second Coalition against France. 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.
Ushakov was senior in rank to Nelson, and Nelson would be subordinate to him. Nelson disliked that very much, and therefore suggested dispatching the Russian squadron to Egypt instead.
Brewing conflict between the commanders was prevented by Ushakov's being 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 Abbey 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.
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.
The Russian Orthodox Church glorified him as a patron saint of the Russian Navy in 2000. His relics are preserved in Sanaksar Monastery. He was also declared the patron saint of Russian nuclear-armed strategic bombers in 2005 by Patriarch Alexius II in the Cathedral of St. Theodore Ushakov.
- Овчинников В.Д. Адмирал Ф.Ф. Ушаков: архивные документы против легенд//Вестник архивиста. №2, 2012.
- John Naughton (22 May 2014). "Arctic Convoy veterans honoured by Russia on HMS Belfast". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
- Dictionary of Minor Planet Names - p.247
- M. Romm movie (IMDb)
- English biography
- The Naval Art of Admiral Fyodor F. Ushakov
- Ushakov's battleship St Paul
- (Святой морской дьявол) (The holy sea-devil), an article in Kommersant-Dengi (in Russian), available online
- Baltic Naval Institute named after F.F. Ushakov 
- Sanaksar Monastery - Official site (in Russian)
- Sanaksar Monastery - Photo gallery (in Russian) (in English)