The Great Russian Navigator

Aleksei I. Chirikov (1703 – 1748)
Russian navigator, naval officer Arctic explorer.

Aleksei I. Chirikov was a naval captain, with the Russian Great Northern Expeditions, sponsored by Czar Peter the Great. Lead by the Danish-Russian explorer Vitus Bering in 1733, the expedition surveyed much of Russia and Siberia. Chirkov had previously sailed with Bering in the ship St. Gabriel, which in 1728 reached the Bering Strait.

In 1740 he commanded the ship St. Paul, sailing with Bering's ship St. Peter. After first sailing to Petropavlovsk in Kamchatka, the two ships left the peninsula on June 4th 1741. Chirikov, in the Saint Paul, became separated from the St. Peter in gale winds to the south of the Aleutian Islands. The ships never met again. Chirikov continued sailing east and northeast, reaching the coast of Alaska on July 15th 1741. Two small boat crews were sent ashore but neither returned. The loss of the boats made further landings impossible. By this time his crew were dying from scurvy and thirst. He managed to reach Petropavlovsk on October 11th 1741 with very few survivors. Bering perished along with most of his crew. Chirikov's health was ruined by the Arctic voyages and he died a few years later. Bering was the expedition’s leader but Chirikov made the more significant discoveries