Vasili Yakovlevich Chichagov (Russian: Василий Яковлевич Чичагов) (28 February 1726 – 4 April 1809) was an admiral in the Russian Navy and an explorer. He was the father of Pavel Chichagov, a Russian admiral during the Napoleonic Wars.
Joining the Navy at the age of 16, Chichagov was educated in Great Britain. Throughout his life, he would be enthusiastic for all things British, would marry an English woman, and spend his declining years in the United Kingdom (after he had settled into retirement in 1797).
In 1764, the scientist Lomonosov organized an expedition to find the Northeast Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by sailing along the northern coast of Siberia. Chichagov, then serving as the deputy commandant of Arkhangelsk Port, was put in charge of the expedition with three ships, the Chichagov, the Panov and the Babayev. Although he sailed past Svalbard and reached 80°26'N in 1765 and 80°30'N in 1766, both expeditions failed to find the route.
Islands of Novaya Zemlya Archipelago, the Chichagof Island in the Alexander Archipelago in southeastern Alaska, the bay and cape of Nuka Hiva, in the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia, and a mountain at Spitzbergen are named after Chichagov.
During the first Russo-Turkish War, Chichagov was made responsible for the defense of the Kerch Strait, preventing the Ottoman warships from gaining access to the Sea of Azov. When the war over, he administered the ports of Arkhangelsk, Revel, and Kronstadt. During the Russo-Swedish War (1788–1790), he was the Commander-in-chief of the Baltic Fleet. He won the Battle of Öland (1789), Battle of Reval and the Battle of Vyborg Bay—three victories that allowed the Russians to take prisoner 5,000 Swedish sailors and 200 officers and to bring the war to an end.
- A. Sokolov. Lomonosov's Project and Chichagov's Expedition. SPb, 1854.