MAKAROV, Stepan Osipovich. Vice Admiral.
Makarov was unquestionably one of the most brilliant and versatile officers
in the history of the Imperial Navy. Although he is chiefly remembered
today for his brief tenure as commander of the Port Arthur Squadron,
Makarov had long before demonstrated remarkable talents as a leader,
as a tactician and as an innovative naval technologist.
Osip MAKAROV was a naval petty officer who had risen to commissioned
rank. His son Stepan was born on 27 December 1848/8 January 1849 in
Nikolaev. Osip Makarov was transferred to the Far East in 1858, and
his wife and son went with him. There, in September 1858, Stepan Osipovich
entered the Maritime Academy at Nikolaevsk-na-Amure; this school trained
young men for the merchant marine. His abilities came to the attention
of Admiral P.V. KAZEKEVICH, commandant of Nikolaevsk, in 1863, and the
admiral petitioned the Naval Ministry to accept young Makarov as a naval
cadet. The ministry acceded, and Makarov served as a cadet aboard the
screw corvette Bogatyr' during her visit to San Francisco in 1863 as
a unit of Admiral A.A. POPOV's squadron. He left the ship on 19/31 March
1864; returning to Nikolaevsk, Makarov completed his studies in 1865,
finishing at the head of his class. He was sent to the Baltic Fleet
in 1866, and he became an ensign in 1869. Makarov's inventiveness was
first evident in 1870 when he invented the collision mat, a device eventually
adopted by almost every navy; he was rewarded by a 200 ruble bonus and
promotion to lieutenant.
Makarov had at some point returned to the Pacific Squadron, where he
served until 1871, when he was transferred to the Baltic Fleet; there,
among other ships, he served aboard the coast defense turret ship Rusalka.
Always looking beyond his immediate horizons, Makarov was concerned
by the weak state of the Black Sea Fleet -- the only heavy ships in
it were the two unsatisfactory circular batteries Novgorod and Vitse-Admiral
Popov. The Black Sea Fleet's most probable opponent, the Turkish Navy,
had no less than sixteen ironclads built or building. In 1876 Makarov
proposed converting the fast steamship Velikii Kniaz' Konstantin into
a mothership for spar-torpedo boats to counterbalance the Turkish naval
superiority. The navy's head, General Admiral the Grand Duke KONSTANTIN
NIKOLAEVICH, supported this plan and in 1876 Makarov was transferred
to the Black Sea Fleet to begin developing the tactics and equipment
necessary to put his plan into effect. When the Russo-Turkish War broke
out in 1877, the torpedo-boat carrying Velikii Kniaz' Konstantin was
placed under Makarov's command. Always with an eye for detail, Makarov
fueled her with Welsh coal because it produced less smoke than other
coals; he also had the torpedo boats painted to harmonize with the sea.
The first time Makarov's tactics were attempted was on 30 April/12 May
1877, when the boats Chesma, Sinop, Navarin and Sukhum Kalé tried
to attack several Turkish ironclads anchored at Batûm. Towed torpedoes
were used, but an alert guardship opened fire on the torpedo boats,
and they were forced to concentrate their attacks on this vessel, without
success. In the next attack, at Sulina, Velikii Kniaz' Konstantin was
accompanied by another converted merchant ship, Vladimir. On the night
of 31 May/12 June, six torpedo boats, under the command of Lieutenant
I.M. ZATZARENNII, were dispatched with the intention of attacking the
Turkish ironclads Idjalieh, Fethi Bulend and Mukaddami, which were protected
by guard boats connected by ropes. One torpedo boat ran into the rope
defense and was sunk by the explosion of her own spar torpedo. Another
boat, commanded by Lieutenant Z.P. ROZHDESTVENSKII, managed to clear
the ropes, but its torpedo struck Idjalieh's torpedo nets, doing the
attacker more harm than her intended victim. The remaining boats accomplished
Makarov's makeshift force made another attack at Sukhum Kalé
on 12/24 August; the main target was the ironclad Assari Shevket. The
attack was again led by Zatzarennii, and four boats equipped with spar
torpedoes were used. One boat's torpedo struck a launch lying alongside
the ironclad, another boat was nearly swamped by the explosion of her
own torpedo, the third was nearly dragged under when she fouled the
rocking ironclad, and the fourth missed the way and got lost. Although
little damage was actually done in this attack, the Russians believed
that Assari Shevket had been sunk, and Makarov was promoted to captain.
These attacks caused the Turks little damage, but, combined with the
general lack of initiative on the part of the decrepit Ottoman navy,
completely neutralized the matérial superiority of the Turks
at sea. Their ironclads spent the war in protected anchorages hemmed
in by ropes and booms, doing little to further the Turkish cause. Makarov
became a national hero, and was awarded several decorations.
After the war, in 1878, Makarov contributed to the design of the torpedo
boat Sirena (later redesignated No. 21), originally a Yarrow design.
He commanded the guard steamship Taman in 1881. He studied the Bosporus,
and based on these researches later published his book On the Exchange
of Waters Between the Black and Mediterranean Seas (1885), which was
awarded a prize by the Russian Academy of Sciences. He also participated
in the campaign in Turkestan in 1881.
Makarov served in the Baltic Fleet from 1882 to 1886 on the staff of
Admiral Popov, and circumnavigated the globe in the wooden screw corvette
Vitiaz' in 1886-1889. This voyage resulted in another publication, The
Vitiaz' and the Pacific Ocean (2 vols., 1894), which won the author
international acclaim. In 1890, at the age of 41, he became Russia's
youngest admiral and was appointed junior flag officer in the Baltic
Fleet and in 1891 Chief Inspector of Naval Artillery. He invented a
type of armor-piercing cap for shells (called "Makarov tips"
in the Russian navy).
In 1894 Makarov was made commander of the Mediterranean Squadron; he
arrived on station in November and flew his flag in Imperator Nikolai
I. In 1895 he was also appointed Chief of Fleet Training, and in that
year led his squadron on a voyage to the Far East, travelling by way
of the Suez Canal. In 1896 he continued the journey across the Pacific
Ocean to the United States, travelled across that country and eventually
returned to Russia, thereby completing a second around-the-world trip.
Makarov became a squadron commander in the Baltic Fleet in 1896, in
which year he was promoted to vice admiral. During this time he helped
design the world's first purpose-built mine-layers, the Amur class.
In early 1898 he again visited the United States, apparently in search
of American shipyards capable of building warships for Russia.
In 1897 Makarov published his most famous work, Discussion of Questions
in Naval Tactics, which was translated into several foreign languages.
In this book he investigated various issues arising from the development
of the armored, steam-powered warship. Among other questions, he explored
mine warfare, fighting formations, ramming, and maneuvering. Not content
to explore tactics, Makarov also continued his scientific pursuits.
He proposed and helped design a powerful icebreaker for Arctic exploration;
in March 1899, when the ice was still a month or so from breaking-up
in the Gulf of Finland, Makarov sailed this new ship, the British-built
Ermak, from Newcastle to Kronshtadt. In June-August 1899 he took the
Ermak to the Barents Sea, getting as far north as 81E 21' N, north of
Makarov's voyages in the Ermak served two purposes: the first was to
further pure scientific research (Makarov for a while hoped to be the
first to reach the North Pole), the second was to work toward establishing
a practical northern passage to the Pacific. This latter goal would
have greatly simplified Russia's strategic problems, giving her navy
a route to the Far East that was dependent on no foreign power. This
dream was not fulfilled until the Soviets opened the Northern Sea Route
many years after Makarov's death.
Makarov also demonstrated considerable foresight in another arena; after
Russia seized Port Arthur in March 1898, he wrote to the Naval Minister
that "The fall of Port Arthur would be a terrible blow for our
position in the Far East. Port Arthur should be made impregnable."
Unfortunately for Russia, few measures were taken for the defense of
that place before the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904.
In December 1899 Makarov was appointed commander of the Port of Kronshtadt.
However, he continued his scientific work, and in 1901 he sailed from
Zemlia Frantsa Iosifa and the northwestern coast of Novaia Zemlia. His
next book, Without Sails (1903), tackled the question of naval education
in the new era of steamships.
Makarov's immediate reaction to the Japanese attack on the Russian Port
Arthur squadron on the night of 26-27 January/8-9 February 1904 was
that the fleet in the Far East needed to be reinforced. He suggested
that forty torpedo boats be disassembled and sent to Port Arthur by
the Trans-Siberian Railway. He also disapproved of the decision to recall
Admiral VIRENIUS' squadron (battleship Osliabia, cruisers Avrora and
Dmitrii Donskoi), then in transit to Port Arthur; Makarov thought that
they should continue on immediately to Port Arthur.
Makarov was soon given a chance to do more than make suggestions. On
1/14 (Modern Encyclopedia says 9) February he was appointed commander
of the Pacific Squadron, replacing Admiral O.V. STARK. He hurriedly
gathered his staff and some other necessaries -- amounting to five freight
cars full of naval stores and equipment and two hundred shipwrights
from the Kronshtadt dockyards -- and set off for the Far East. He arrived
at Port Arthur on 24 February/7 March, and immediately put the shipwrights
to work repairing the ships damaged in the initial Japanese torpedo
attack. Because Port Arthur lacked a drydock big enough to take the
wounded battleships Retvizan and Tsesarevich, Makarov had cofferdams
constructed, large wooden boxes that fit against the side of the ship's
hull. Once in place, the cofferdams were pumped out, thus giving the
shipwrights a dry working space right down to the bottom of the ship.
Immediately after his arrival he was briefed by Admiral Stark. Stark
had used the battleship Petropavlovsk for his flagship; Makarov had
long believed that a cruiser would make a better flagship because of
its superior speed. He consequently hoisted his flag in the Askol'd.
In the middle of a briefing on 25 February/9 March, Makarov was told
that the destroyer Steregushchii was in action with Japanese destroyers
outside the port. Without saying a word, Makarov left the conference.
Minutes later, the admiral's flag was lowered on Askol'd; officers and
men looking on expressed disappointment, until it was seen that the
small cruiser Novik, leading the ships out of harbor, was now flying
the admiral's flag. Cheers went up from those watching; and even though
it was too late to save Steregushchii, Makarov had decisively demonstrated
that he intended to lead from the front.
Makarov threw himself into the the job of remedying the fleet's defects,
a task to which he applied tremendous energy. Yet the magnitude of the
job apparently left him close to despair, as the following cri du couer
Oh, to know what to do! Truly our men are in need of everthing. They
do not know how to walk in the night. Mismanaged and confused, they
continue to elbow each other near Port Arthur. Incapable of identifying
themselves they hesitate to return [to port] for fear of being mistaken
for the Japanese. Complete misfortune!
Yet Makarov's private doubts did not color his leadership of the fleet.
He became known to every officer and seaman in the fleet, affectionately
called "Old Beardy" because of his flowing whiskers. He began
an intensive training program to try to improve the fighting efficiency
of his squadron.
To give himself the time he needed for this program, he first took defensive
steps. He had two "counter-blockships" sunk in the channel
leading into the port; set diagonally, these ships would force any approaching
Japanese blackships to follow a zig-zag course, exposing them to the
concentrated fire of the shore batteries before they could block the
channel. Believing that the Japanese might try to flood the harbor with
flaming oil (a recurring idea in Russian naval thought; in The Russia's
Hope, a "future war" story published anonymously in 1877,
a Russian cruiser sends a sheet of flaming oil into a British harbor;
Admiral A.V. KOLCHAK made proposals to cover an amphibious landings
against the Turks by using flaming oil), Makarov had a flame-proof boom
set up across the harbor entrance. He had observers posted to spot for
the indirect fire of battleships while they were still in the harbor.
This last step paid useful dividends on 9/22 March, when the battleships
Fuji and Yashima moved into a dead zone in the shore batteries' coverage
to shell the port. Before they could begin their own bombardment, they
found themselves under heavy and accurate fire from the ships within
the harbor. As the Japanese battleships hurriedly withdrew, Fuji was
hit by a 12in. shell and had to be sent back to Sasebo for repairs.
With his defenses secured, Makarov could make good on his intention
to train the fleet in a series of minor skirmishes with the Japanese,
avoiding a decisive action until some measure of proficiency had been
achieved. He demanded that the squadron be able to sortie from the harbor
quickly; in the past it had required a full twenty-four hours to get
out because tugs were used to maneuver the big ships through the winding
exit channel. Makarov allowed the tugs to assist only at the most difficult
points; he drilled the squadron daily, and soon he could get the entire
squadron out of harbor in two and a half hours. Ultimately, he intended
to get the fleet out of the trap of Port Arthur to the more secure harbor
of Vladivostok. From there, he could have disrupted the Japanese lines
of communications to the Asian mainland more effectively than he could
from Port Arthur, located in the cul-de-sac of the Yellow Sea.
However, Makarov never had the opportunity to bring his plans to completion.
On the night of 30/31 March (12/13 April) the Japanese minelayer Koryu
Maru laid a field outside the harbor. The Japanese destroyers covering
Koryu Maru were observed by Makarov, but the minelayer herself went
Later that night the destroyer Strashnyi, one of a group sent to reconnoiter
the Elliot Islands, fell in with a Japanese flotilla, believing them
to be Russian ships. When morning came, both the Russians and Japanese
discovered what had happened, and the Strashnyi was soon overwhelmed
by the Japanese destroyers. The cruisers Baian and Diana were sent out
to aid the luckless Strashnyi, and they managed to chase off the Japanese
destroyers, but soon the Japanese armored cruisers Asama and Tokiwa,
with four smaller cruisers, appeared. The Russians in turn sent reinforcements,
first the cruisers Novik and Askol'd and finally the battleships Petropavlovsk,
flying Makarov's flag, and Poltava. The Japanese cruisers withdrew with
the intention of leading the Russians over the new minefield. And indeed
the Russians steamed through the field, but to the consternation of
the Japanese, they struck no mines.
Finally the Japanese battleships appeared. At first, according to the
Grand Duke KIRILL VLADIMIROVICH, an officer on Makarov's staff, the
admiral seemed willing to take on the superior enemy force. Kirill writes
that I, and his flag captain, told him then and there that in our view
it would be sheer folly to do so. Makarov then wheeled his line and
took course for Port Arthur, where he was going to order the rest of
the squadron to join him in engaging Togo's ships. It was the admiral's
intention, Kirill goes on to say, that the ships already outside harbor
should shelter under the shore batteries until reinforced.
Suddenly, two miles from Port Arthur, Petropavlovsk struck one or two
mines in the newly-laid field; moments later, her forward magazines
exploded, with such violence that the entire forward turret was thrown
into the air. Petropavlovsk sank within two minutes; some observers
say they saw the admiral kneeling in prayer on the bridge as the ship
went down. Pobieda struck a mine moments later, and soon word spread
that Japanese submarines were nearby; the Russian ships began firing
wildly into the water, it was all Admiral Prince P.P. UKHTOMSKII could
do to restore order. Slowly the crippled Pobieda was got safely back
to Port Arthur.
The destroyers sent to search the site of the disaster found fifty-eight
survivors from Petropavlovsk; over 680 officers and men had been lost
with the ship, among them most of Makarov's staff and the famous war
artist Vasilii Vereshchagin. Of Admiral Stepan Osipovich Makarov himself,
the searchers found only his overcoat.
Makarov was survived by his wife, who received telegrams of condolences
from, among others, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. Even the Japanese
government issued a statement that recalled the admiral's scientific
(GSE, vol. 15, pp. 339-340; Modern Encyclopedia,
vol. 21, pp. 11-14; Jane, pp. 189-195; Morskiia Zapiski, November 1953,
p. 19; WI, 3/1982, p. 245; Hucul, pp. 210, 236-239; Testimony of Kolchak,
p. 217 n.9; Tomitch, p. 76; Mitchell, pp. 187, 218-220; McCully, pp.
77-82; Diedrich, 111, 200-206, 211, 216, 391; Cyril, My Life in Russia's
Service, pp. 164, 167)