Golovnin Vasily Mikhailovich
navigator, twice circled the globe, naval theorist,
researcher of the Pacific Ocean and the Kuril Islands, vice
admiral, corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy
of Sciences, writer.
Born in the village of Gulynki, Pronsky district, Ryazan
province in the estate of his parents. Golovniny - an
ancient noble family.
Having lost his parents at a young age, Golovnin was
identified in the Naval Cadet Corps.
At the age of fourteen he participated in battles with the
Swedes in the Gulf of Finland. After graduating from the
Marine Corps, in 1793–1801 he sailed in the Baltic and in
the North Sea, in 1802–1806 he was a volunteer in British
warships in the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic and the
Antilles. During this period, he developed new marine
signals that were used in the Russian Navy for a quarter of
In the summer of 1807, on the sloop “Diana”, Golovnin sailed
from Kronstadt on his first trip around the world, in the
spring of 1808 he approached the Cape of Good Hope, but was
detained by the British because of the outbreak of the
Anglo-Russian war. Only a year later, Golovnin managed to
steal the ship out of the harbor with a tailwind. He made a
non-stop transition in the “roaring forties” to the island
of Tanna (the New Hebrides archipelago) and in early October
Cruising from Kamchatka to Baranov Island and back (1810),
Golovnin collected data on the climatic conditions of the
northern part of the Pacific Ocean, the following year he
described and photographed the central part of the Kuril
Islands from Raikoke Island to Urup Island, specifying on
the map their shape and relative location. Having landed on
the island of Kunashir to replenish supplies of food and
water, Golovnin, along with six crew members and a
smoker-translator, was captured by the Japanese. After being
released from a two-year bondage, he returned through St.
Petersburg and Kamchatka. The impressions and information
gathered about Japan and the Japanese formed the basis for
the “Notes of Captain Golovnin’s fleet about his adventures
held captive by the Japanese in 1811–1813”, published in
1816 and reprinted several times (the latest edition was in
1972). Translated into European languages, the book brought
the author worldwide fame.
In the years 1817-1819 on the sloop "Kamchatka" Golovnin
made the second round-the-world voyage; described the
islands of the Aleutian ridge and the Commander Islands.
In 1821, Golovnin was appointed assistant director of the
Naval Cadet Corps, in 1823 - the Fleet Quartermaster.
Golovnin brought up a galaxy of prominent sailors who became
F. Matyushkin, P. Rikord. Under his leadership, more
than two hundred warships were built, including the first
ten ships. Admiral Golovnin owns at least 205 volumes of
books on geography and maritime affairs. In 1921, this book
collection in separate form came from the Golovnins estate
to Moscow University, later it was allocated from the
general and exchange-reserve funds and is now stored in the
rare books and manuscripts department of the Moscow State
University Scientific Library
The merits of Golovnin are marked by the orders of
St. George of the 4th degree and
Anna and two orders of
He died of cholera during an epidemic that broke out in the
capital. He was buried at the Mitrofanievsky cemetery in St.
Soon after the abolition of the Mitrofanievsky cemetery in
1927, the Golovnins clan crypt was destroyed.
On June 13, 2017, during the visiting meeting of the working
group of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg on the
issues of perpetuation of memory and in the presence of a
direct descendant of Peter Andreevich Golovnin, the exact
coordinates of the burial were established (at the address:
15, Mitrofanievskoye Shosse, St. Petersburg, lit. . A), on
the site of which it is planned to erect a monument to the
Mountain (on modern maps
erroneously "Golovin") on the west coast of the northern
island of Novaya Zemlya. He named in 1821 F.P. Litke.