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 nothing.

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 Spitsbergen.

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 shows:
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 unseen.

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 achievements.

(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)