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Yuri Lisyansky Round the World in Three Years
March 20, 2008 21:52

Yuri Lisyansky

Yuri Fedorovich Lisyansky is Russian sailor, captain I rank, hydrologist and world-famous voyager.

Yuri Lisyansky was born on August 2, 1773, in the town of Nezhin. His father was an archpriest. When his wife died, Yuri’s father sent his two sons to St. Petersburg, where boys were admitted to Naval Cadet Corps. Yuri was ten years old at that time. In 1786 Lisyansky's early graduation from the Corps (he was second on the list, which marks his diligence in studies) allowed him to attend 32-cannon frigate “Podrazhislav” of the Baltic fleet as midshipman. This ship became the place for Yuri’s baptism of fire during the war between Russia and Sweden (1788-1790), in which 15-year-old participated in several battles.

Three years later Lisyansky was promoted to sub-officer and in 1793 – to lieutenant. Same year Lisyansky and fifteen other best Russian officers were sent to Great Britain, where they practiced in nautical science. Yuri Lisyansky became a brilliant professional; he participated in battles of Englishmen against the French Republic and fought pirates in North America’s waters. Lisyansky traveled across the United States and met George Washington, and then he moved to West Indies, following English caravans along South American and Indian coasts.

In 1797 Yuri Lisyansky returned to Russia and was promoted to lieutenant commander. New rank brought Lisyansky a new ship – frigate “Avtroil” became his subordinate ship. In 1802 the sailor was awarded the Order of St. George (4th rank) for participating in 16 naval campaigns and two great battles. At that time Russian-American Company, a trade association, established in 1779 and aimed at exploring territories of Russian America, the Kuril Islands and etc, supported the idea of a special expedition for supplying Russian settlements at Alaska with necessary goods. Since that moment Russian naval officers started preparations for first Russian round-the-world (circumnavigatory) voyage. Naval Ministry appointed lieutenant commander Lisyansky one of expedition leaders and sent him to England for buying two sloops and some equipment.


Summer of 1803 saw two sloops, “Neva” and “Nadezhda”, ready to start. Lieutenant commander Kruzenstern headed the expedition and commanded “Nadezhda”, leaving “Neva” to his former classmate Yuri Lisyansky. On July 26 two ships left Kronstadt for the journey, which not a single Russian had ever done. These two sloops were first Russian ships, which crossed the equator. Then “Neva” lost “Nadezhda” and traveled to Russian America alone. Yuri Lisyansky and his crew spent about a year near the shores of North America. Brave Russian sailors helped Russian settlers to protect their homes from Indian tribes and to build a fortress. Lisyansky dedicated much of his free time to scientific observations and hydrographic works. In 1805 “Neva”, carrying furs, arrived to Macao, where Lisyansky met Kruzenstern and “Nadezhda”, which brought Russian ambassador to Japan. Several days later two ships again were lost in fog. Lisyansky made a historical decision – Russian officer decided to sail from China to English seaport Portsmouth on his own and without port calls and stops for fresh water and food. “Neva” was first to return to Kronstadt on June 22, 1806.

Yuri Lisyansky and his crew became first Russian round-the-world voyagers. “Nadezhda” appeared in Kronstadt two weeks later. However, Kruzenstern was in favour of Russian officials, and that’s why all glory and fame went to him as the first one, who managed to publish the report about the voyage. At that time Lisyansky was preparing reports for the Russian Geographic Society. For his services Yuri Lisyansky received the Order of St. Vladimir (3rd rank), cash bonus and life pension. Lisyansky said his best reward was gratefulness of his crew and officers, who survived a difficult journey together with him.


The sailor was very scrupulous in astronomy measurements, determination of longitude and latitude, defining coordinates of islands and harbors, where “Neva” stopped – his data are very close to that sailors use now. The traveler checked maps of the Gaspar and the Sunda Straits, corrected coastlines of the Kadiak (Kodiak since 1901) Island and other pieces of land near northwest Alaskan coast. Lisyansky discovered a small island at 26 ° NL, which was named after him by “Neva”’s crew.

During his wanderings Yuri Lisyansky gathered a vast collection of various items, utensils, clothes and weapons, shells, corals, lava pieces, rock samples and etc. This collection went to the Russian Geographic Society.

After his journey Lisyansky commanded several ships and participated in military operations against English and French fleets. His travel notes came off the press in 1812, three years after the officer retired in 1809. Lisyansky translated his notes into English, and they became very popular in London.

Yuri Lisyansky loved his wife very much and had five children. Famous Russian traveler and officer died in 1837.

Yuri Lisyansky was the first three times in his life: he was the first Russian to complete round-the-world sea voyage; he discovered an island in the Pacific and found the way from Russian America to Kronstadt. Many geographic objects were named in his honor.


Kizilova Anna

Tags: Russian scientists Russian science    

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