Litke Fedor Petrovich 
(17(28).09.1797–08.08(20.08).1882)


An outstanding Russian navigator, scientist, admiral, statesman. 
Litke was born in St. Petersburg in the family of a customs official, who had reached the rank of state councilor. He was the fifth child in the family. Litke called the hour of his birth the most unhappy hour of his life, since his mother died during childbirth. After a short time, the father married again, but this did not bring happiness and joy to him or his children. The young wife treated her stepchildren and stepdaughters very badly, and when three more children appeared in the family, little Litke was fostered in a cheap boarding school. After the death of his father in 1808  the children were generally abandoned by a stepmother, and Litke, 11, was brought up by his uncle, a wealthy man, but he was practically not engaged in raising a child.At the age of 11-15 years old, the age decisive for the formation of a young man, Litke remained virtually without any supervision, upbringing and systematic training. Not to spoil, not to slip into the bottom of life helped him his natural inclinations, abilities and desire for science. My uncle had a great library, and an inquisitive little Litke, left to himself, began to read everything. It was then that he first became acquainted with essays on mathematics, history, literature, philosophy, and the works of Russian classics. In the house of his uncle there were fabulist I.A. Krylov, the future president of the Academy of Arts A. Olenin. 
In 1810  one of his sisters, who was eight years older than Litke, married a naval officer, later Admiral I.S. Sulmenev, and this event was decisive, turning in the fate of Litke. He increasingly began to visit their home in Kronstadt, here the love of the sea instilled in him, which determined his entire fate. With the help of hired teachers, but mainly due to his abilities, perseverance and skills for self-education, Litke, 15, prepared for the exam before the commission consisting of senior officers of the Kronstadt base for three months, brilliantly passed this exam and was listed on the fleet by a midshipman with assignment in a year the rank of midshipman. 
Service he began in the detachment Sulmenev. In the summer of 1813  Litke took part in the siege of Danzig, occupied by Napoleon's troops, and was awarded the 4th degree of the Officer Order of St.Anna for ingenuity, endurance and courage. 
The next most important event in his life was participation in a round-the-world voyage on the sloop Kamchatka under the guidance of the famous V.M. Golovnin. Litke met with him in the house of Sulmenev, and Golovnin, knowing the talented purposeful young man, immediately agreed to participate in his swimming. It was a great honor. 
Swimming continued during the years 1817-1819  and became a great maritime school for Litke. Having gone on a march to a young midshipman, he returned from him hardened by an experienced sailor, a lieutenant of the Russian fleet. On “Kamchatka” he met F.P. Wrangel, developed into a male friendship for life. 
Assessing the excellent professional and human qualities of Litke, Golovnin contributed to his appointment as the leader of the most important expedition on the inventory of Novaya Zemlya. This archipelago, despite its relative proximity, was very little studied by that time. Works of the Great Northern Expedition of 1733–1743 did not cover him at all. Since the time of V. Barents, the only scientific expedition of F. Rozmyslov has been there in 1768–1769. Expedition A.P. Lazarev ended in complete failure - they never managed to land on the shore, and the materials brought in were distinguished by great unreliability. Considering Lazarev’s failure, Litka set rather modest tasks for the first year: not to make a detailed inventory, but to inspect the coast, determine the size of the island, the position of the main capes, the length of Matochkin Shara, if “... ice does not prevent this or other important insanities ...”. For the expedition, the brig "Novaya Zemlya" was built with reinforced solid frames and a copper casing with a length of 24.4 meters, a width of 7.6 meters and a draft of 2.7 meters. 
The brig went to sea at the end of July 1821. The work of the first year was essentially a reconnaissance to familiarize with the conditions of navigation and the capabilities of the ship, as well as planning further research. Both the ship and the crew stood the test perfectly, some errors were corrected on the maps of the White Sea. In mid-August, in the conditions of the approaching polar winter, the expedition returned to Arkhangelsk. 
The tasks for 1822 were expanded. At the beginning of summer, the eastern part of the Murmansk coast, up to the Kola Bay, was described for six weeks and a number of measurements were made in some suitable bay areas. The brig approached Novaya Zemlya in early August. The coastal zone was free of ice, and the brig moved north for three days, reaching Cape Nassau, which was mistaken for the northern end of Novaya Zemlya. It was impossible to move further. Litke turned to Matochkin Shar and determined the coordinates of his western mouth. Because of the bad weather, it was not possible to survey the southern part of Novaya Zemlya, and the vessel returned to the White Sea.The results of the voyage were considered good, Litke was promoted to the rank of lieutenant before the appointed time. Awards were received by the whole team. 
The third flight in 1823 also began with a description of the Murmansk coast. To New Earth came at the end of July. August 1 reached Cape Nassau and made sure that it is not the extreme northern point of the archipelago. Because of the ice, it was impossible to go north. Litke returned to Matochkin Sharu and produced a detailed inventory from the boat. In the Kara Gates the ship unexpectedly sat on the stones, while receiving very serious damage and losing the steering wheel. A strong wind and strong excitement removed the ship from the rocks, and the team’s courage and skill provided the restoration of ship control. It was not possible to eliminate the strong leak, therefore, further hydrographic work on Novaya Zemlya had to be stopped. Nevertheless, on the way back, we determined the coordinates of some of the characteristic points of Kolguev Island, and also conducted hydrographic work at Cape Kanin Nos. 
By the march of 1824  the ship was overhauled. The Admiralty Instruction prescribed a description of the eastern coast of the New Earth and a wish for the maximum possible penetration to the north between Spitsbergen and the New Earth. However, due to the extremely difficult ice conditions, it was not possible to complete this task. Litke could not even reach Cape Nassau, and in the movement to the north reached only 76º 05N and 42º 15E. Walk in the Kara Sea also failed. Two other teams of the expedition Litke took measurements of the depths in the White Sea, made a map of the coast of the Barents Sea from Russky Cape Zavorot to the Yugorsky Ball and explored the delta of the Pechora River. 
Within two years, Litke processed the materials obtained, and in 1828 published a book about his voyages to Novaya Zemlya, which brought him fame in the scientific world. 
The merits of Litke should also include his great contribution to the toponymy, including the nominal one, of the New Earth. During the first voyage, he gave the names of the objects in honor of his assistant M.A. Lavrov, the hydrograph G.A. Sarychev, navigator V.M. Golovnin. After the second voyage, the names of almost the entire command staff of his expedition appeared on the map of Novaya Zemlya. This is the lip of Sofronov in honor of the senior navigator of the expedition S.Е. Sofronov, Kharlov Cape on the southern tip of Novaya Zemlya in honor of the navigator apprentice Ya.P. Kharlov, Tikhomirov peninsula on about. Big Deer in honor of the doctor I.A. Tikhomirov, Smirnov Cape in Krestovaya Bay in honor of the head doctor N.P. Smirnov, Cape Litke in the hall. Melkiy Bay in honor of Lieutenant A.P. Litke, brother of the expedition leader and others. 
In the years 1826-1829 on the sloop "Senyavin" Litke made his second round-the-world voyage calling in Russian America and Kamchatka. In this voyage  several islands and atolls in the Pacific Ocean were discovered, the coordinates of some important points in Kamchatka were specified, lengthy sections of the coast of Chukotka were described, and hydrographic work was carried out in the Aleutian, Caroline and Marian Islands. Upon returning to his homeland, Litke was promoted to rank 1 captain through the rank, and for the scientific achievements of the expedition he was elected a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences. In 1832  he published a three-volume description of his voyage. The highest evaluation of scientific achievements of Litke was the awarding of him, the first of the naval officers, honorable Demidov Prize. 
Litke dreamed of new voyages and geographical discoveries, but he could not make them anymore. In 1832, Nicholas I appointed him tutor to his son, Grand Duke Constantine, whom he wanted to make a sailor. In this role, he remained for 16 years. Being in such an unattractive position for a seaman, Litke never ceased to be a geographer. It was during these years that he, along with FP. Wrangel and academician K.M. Baer became one of the founders of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society. Litke was its first head and was in this post from 1845 to 1873 with a break in 1850-1857. During this break, he commanded the Revel, and then the Kronstadt ports, during the Crimean War, led the defense of the Gulf of Finland from the attack of the British squadron. 
For the brilliant accomplishment of the task, Litke received the rank of admiral and was appointed a member of the State Council.

 

Entrance to the Litke Bay. Cape Black Buttermilk Three Brothers Rocks

(photo by G.P. Avetisov, 2012)

Fedor Island at the entrance to the Litka Bay

(photo by G.P. Avetisov, 2012)


The recognition of Litke's scientific achievements was his election in 1864 as the President of the Academy of Sciences. In parallel with this, until 1873 he continued to lead the Imperial Russian Geographical Society. In 1873  a gold medal was established in his name, which until now has been awarded to outstanding Russian geographers. 
In 1873  at the age of 75  Litke voluntarily, contrary to the wishes of his colleagues, resigned as the head of the company for health reasons. President of the Academy of Sciences remained until 1881, when the loss of sight and hearing forced him to resign. The last year of his life was extremely difficult for him. 
While paying tribute to Litke’s scientific and organizational merit, one cannot help mentioning his great mistakes in the development of the Far North. "... Swimming in the ice is impossible ..." - this is his opinion, which he adhered to until the end of his days. This opinion of the head of the IRGO, the President of the Academy of Sciences, became a brake on the exploration and development of the Northern Sea Route and naturally slowed down the economic development of Siberia for many years and decades.

In addition to the Order of St. Anna 4 degrees, Litke was awarded the Orders of  St. Alexander Nevsky, St. Andrew the First-Called, White Eagle, St. Vladimir 1 , 2 , 3 and 4 degrees, St. George the 4th degree, St. Anna 1, 2 and 3 degrees, St.Stanislav 1 degree, 2 degrees with the imperial crown, 3 degrees. 
He was buried in Petersburg at the family site of the Volkovsky Lutheran cemetery: marble sculpture of an angel on a granite pedestal. 
A group of islands in the Nordensheld archipelago. Named in 1901. 
An island in the south of the archipelago Franz Josef Land. Opened by the Austrian expedition of J. Payer. The name given later. 
Island off the west coast of the Yamal Peninsula. Called by I.N. Ivanov in 1826.

The island (Fedora) at the entrance to the bay of Litke on the east coast of the southern island of Novaya Zemlya. Opened in 1833 by P.K. Pakhtusov. Next to the island of Fedor is located, also opened by Pakhtusov Alexander Island, named in honor of his brother F.P. Litke - Alexandra. 
The peninsula and cape northeast of Borzov Bay on the west coast of the northern island of Novaya Zemlya. Named in 1913 by G.Ya. 
Sedov.

Cape in the Bering Strait. Opened in 1828 by an expedition on the sloop "Senyavin" under the command of F. P. Litke. Named in the second half of the XIX century.

Mountains on Novaya Zemlya in the area of the Matochkin Strait. 
Mountain on the island of Edge Svalbard archipelago. 
Quba in the north of the Goose Land Peninsula in the west of the southern island of Novaya Zemlya. Discovered by F.P. Litke in 1821. The name given later. 
Bay   south of Stepovoi Bay on the east coast of the southern island of Novaya Zemlya. He opened and named in 1833 P.K. Pakhtusov. 
In addition, the name F.P. Litke named the famous ship icebreaker "F. Litke". In honor of this vessel A.I. Mineev named the cape on the eastern shore of Wrangel Island. 
On the Barents coast of the northern island of Novaya Zemlya, the name Litke bears the northern entrance cape of the Melky Bay. He was named by F.P. Litke in honor of his brother A.P. Litke, a participant in voyages in the brigade Novaya Zemlya in 1822-1825.

 

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