Aleksei Ilyich Chirikov (Russian: Алексей Ильич Чириков) (1703 – November 1748) was a Russian navigator and captain who along with Bering was the first Russian to reach North-West coast of North America. He discovered and charted some of the Aleutian Islands while he was deputy to Vitus Bering during the Great Northern Expedition.
Life and work
In 1721, Chirikov graduated from the Naval Academy. In 1725–1730 and 1733–1743, he was Vitus Bering's deputy during the First and the Second Kamchatka expeditions.
In May 1741 Chirikov in the St Paul and Vitus Bering in the St Peter left Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and headed east. Some time after 20 June they were separated by a storm and never saw each other again. On 15 July 1741 Chirikov saw land at Baker Island off Prince of Wales Island at the south end of the Alaska Panhandle. This is about 450 miles southeast of Bering's landfall near Mount St. Elias at the north end of the panhandle. Unable to find a harbor he sailed north along Baranov Island past the later Russian base at Sitka. He sent out a longboat to find an anchorage. When it did not return after a week he sent out his second longboat which also failed to return. Now without any small boats Chirikov had no way of searching for the two longboats or landing on the coast to explore or replenish his supply of fresh water. After waiting as long as possible, he abandoned the longboats to their fate and on 27 July sailed west. He sighted the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak Island and Adak Island near the western end of the Aleutians. With water critically low he reached Petropavlovsk on 12 October 1741.
In 1742, Chirikov was in charge of a search party for Bering's ship St. Peter. During this trip, he located Attu Island. Chirikov took part in creating the final map of the Russian discoveries in the Pacific Ocean (1746). Chirikov's name is given to Capes of the Kyūshū Island, Attu Island, Anadyr Bay, Tauyskaya Bay, an underwater mountain in the Pacific Ocean, Chirikof Island and Cape Chirikof at the westernmost point of Baker Island.
Derek Hayes, 'Historical Atlas of the North Pacific Ocean', 2001