The first Russian circumnavigation led by I. F. Krusenstern began

7 August 1803

“Our expedition, it seemed to me, attracted the attention of Europe. We needed to be successful in the first experience of this kind: otherwise my compatriots would have probably been averted from such an undertaking for a long time; as to those who envied Russia, they would certainly have been glad if we had failed…”

I.F. Krusenstern

July 26 (August 7) 1803 started the first Russian circumnavigation (1803-1806) of two sailing sloops "Nadezhda" and "Neva" under the guidance of Ivan Krusenstern.

For a long time Krusenstern had lobbied the organization of round-the-world expeditions from Kronstadt to the shores of Kamchatka and North America. However, only when Emperor Alexander I took the rule and the heads of the Commerce College and the Naval Ministry changed, his project arose interest in Naval Minister, Count Nikolai Semenovich Mordvinov, Minister of Commerce, Count Nikolai Petrovich Rumyantsev and the head of the Russian-American CompanyNikolai Petrovich Rezanov, who interceded for implementation of Krusenstern’s idea.

In August 1802 Ivan Krusenstern was appointed head of the first Russian circumnavigation expedition, the purpose of which was the delivery of goods to the Russian possessions in North America and on the Kamchatka Peninsula, the establishment of trade relations with China and Japan, the study of the tropical part of the Pacific Ocean near the Russian possessions.

Captain-Lieutenant Yuri F. Lisyansky purchased in London two vessels, "Nadezhda" and "Neva" for the expedition, as well as the latest tools and equipment: marine chronometers, a complete set of astronomical and physical instruments for observation, clothing for the team; drugs and anti-scurvy remedies were also acquired.

In early June 1803 the ships arrived in Kronstadt. Krusenstern took the command of “Nadezhda” and Lisyansky – of "Neva". "Nadezhda" had a displacement of 450 tons, "Neva" – of 370 tons. "Nadezhda"’s crew comprised 58 men, "Neva" - 47 men; the crews were selected from volunteer sailors. Prominent German scientists, astronomer Horner and naturalists Tilezius and Langsdorf were invited to take part in the expedition and conduct researches.

July 26 (August 7)1803 sloops "Nadezhda" and "Neva" under the command of Krusenstern and Lisiansky left Kronstadt raid, visited Copenhagen, Falmouth, the island of Tenerife, and then headed for Brazil.

After a lengthy stay near Santa Catarina island (Brazil) due to the replacement of the "Neva"’s mainmast and foremast, 14 (26) November 1803 the vessels for the first time in the history of the Russian fleet crossed the equator and headed south. February 2 (March 3), 1804, having rounded Cape Horn, they entered into the Pacific Ocean, where "Nadezhda" separated from "Neva" and headed for the Marquesas Islands. There the ships rejoined and went to the Hawaiian Islands. Then "Neva" went to the shores of Alaska, while "Nadezhda" headed for Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. During the voyage Krusenstern corrected maps, searched the island, whose existence was in question, and while anchoring made a survey of nearby shores.

September 26 (October 8) 1804 Krusenstern transported Rezanov to Nagasaki, and in April 1805, after fruitless negotiations of the mission with the Japanese government, went again to Kamchatka. During the voyage Krusenstern had surveyed and mapped the east coast of Sakhalin from Aniva Bay to Cape Patience; described the southern coast of Kamchatka, conducted hydrological measurements, made the description of everyday life and morals of the inhabitants of Sakhalin, Kamchatka; collected and systematically presented data on trade in Japan and China.

In 1806, the sloops crossed the Indian Ocean non-stop, and having rounded Africa, reached the Atlantic Ocean. Skirting Britain from the north, in July - August 1806 the expedition returned to Kronstadt, having been at sea for three years and 12 days.

Alexander I generously rewarded Krusenstern, Lisyansky and all members of the expedition. To commemorate this important event he ordered to strike a special medal.

Krusenstern described his voyage and the results of oceanographic and ethnographic research in a three-volume, "The circumnavigation of 1803, 1804, 1805 and 1806 on board of "Nadezhda "and" Neva"" (St. Petersburg, 1809-1812). In 1812 Lisiansky published "The circumnavigation of 1803, 1804 and 1806 on board of "Neva"" (St. Petersburg, 1812, 2 parts). To accompany the works of Krusenstern and Lisiansky the atlases were published, which included valuable cartographic materials and various drawings illustrating the description of the nature of countries, people and their way of life.

Navigation of "Nadezhda" and "Neva" initiated numerous Russian circumnavigations in the first half of the 19th century during which important geographical discoveries and valuable scientific observations were made.

Lit.: Есаков В. А., Плахотник А. Ф., Алексеев А. И. Русские океанические и морские исследования в XIX — начале XX в. М., 1964; Ивашинцев Н. Русские кругосветные путешествия. Записки Гидрографического департамента Ч. 7-8. СПб., 1849-1850; Комаров В. Первое русское кругосветное плавание // Наука и жизнь. 1940. № 5; Начало наших кругосветных плаваний. Записки Гидрографического департамента. Ч. 7. СПб., 1850; Невский В. В. Первое путешествие россиян вокруг света. М., 1951; Нозиков Н. Русские кругосветные мореплаватели. М.; Л., 1941; Пасецкий В. М. Очарованный надеждой. Л., 1970; Список кораблей, участвовавших в кругосветных плаваниях // «Северная пчела». 1851. № 106-1108.

Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:

Russian voyages around the world in the first half of 19th century: [digital collection]