Alexei Chirikov – naval officer and explorer
Alexei Ilich Chirikov (December 24, 1703, Tula province –June 4, 1748, Moscow) was a Russian nobleman, explorer, Captain-Commander (1747), a researcher of the north-west coast of North America, northern part Pacific and the north-eastern coast of Asia. He was Vitus Bering’s assistant in the 1st and 2nd Kamchatka Expedition (1725-1730 and 1733-1741).
In 1715 Chirikov graduated from the Moscow school of navigation. In 1721 he graduated from the St. Petersburg Naval Academy, received the rank of non-commissioned lieutenant.
In 1722 he returned to the Naval Academy as an instructor of navigation.
In 1725 Alexei Chirikov was selected to be one of two assistants to vitus Bering, recently appointed by Peter the Great to travel to Kamchatka.
In 1728 he received the rank of lieutenant commander.
In 1733-1741 he was a participant and one of the leaders of the Second Kamchatka expedition.
In 1740 expedition founded Petropavlovsk harbor on the Kamchatka Peninsula, immortalized the names of their ships – St Peter and St. Paul. From there, the ships departed in June 1741. Shortly after, the ships separated and never reestablished contact. The crew of the St. Peter sighted Alaska in July, then wintered on the isle now called Bering Island. Bering himself perished; the survivors returned to Petropavlovsk in the fall of 1742.
In July 1741, Chirikov and the crew of the St. Paul discovered Alaska’s Alexander Archipelago. Short of food and fresh water, the St. Paul returned to Kamchatka in October 1741, having lost eight sailors. The following May, Chirikov sailed east again, searching for Bering and his crew. Unfortunately, the St. Paul sailed past Bering Island. In June, after exploring the Aleutians, Chirikov turned back once more. In August 1742, Chirikov sailed into Petropavlovsk—only a few days before the survivors of the St. Peter voyage returned.
For his participation in the Great Northern Expedition, Chirikov was promoted to the rank of captain-commander in 1745. In 1746 he helped to compile new Pacific maps, based on data the Expedition had gathered.
In 1746 Chirikov became a director of the Naval Academy in St. Petersburg.
He was married and had two sons and three daughters.
Geographic features named after Chirikov:
– Cape on the island of Kyushu, Japan;
– Cape in the Gulf of Anadyr, Chukotka, Russia;
– Cape in Tauiskaya lip, Russia;
– Cape on Attu Island, Aleutian Islands, USA;
– seamount in the Pacific Ocean;
– an island in the Pacific Ocean to the south coast of Alaska.