The history of the first Russian warship "Eagle"

When in 1719 he ordered the Dutchman Harman van Bollos to create a weather vane crowning the spire of the newly built Admiralty building, the master chose the outlines of the Eagle frigate, which was the ancestor of the Russian fleet, as a model. Over time, his work became one of the historical symbols of St. Petersburg. And what is known about the ship, which served as its model?

Ship eagle

Sovereign command

The appearance in Russia of the first warship "Eagle" was preceded by quite peaceful events. In 1664, the Persian Shah Abbas II granted the Russian merchants the right to trade duty free in his domain. This sign of goodwill opened up ample opportunities for Russia, but for their implementation a very significant problem was to be solved ─ to ensure the safety of merchant ships on their way through the Caspian Sea. This required a navy, which then did not exist, but which should be built.

Something had to start,and Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich who ruled in those years ─ father of Peter I (his portrait is shown below) ─ gave orders to build near the village of Dedinovo, not far from the place where the Moscow River flows into the Oka River (126 miles from the capital), the shipyard, designed for the construction of large vessels. At the same time, it was appropriate, taking Western samples as a basis, to begin laying a frigate. So, by the will of the sovereign Alexei Mikhailovich, the ship "Eagle" was laid, which marked the beginning of the whole future fleet of Russia.

Last preparations

Control over the execution of the royal command was entrusted to the boyar Athanasius Ordin-Nashchokin, and the direct management of the work was to professional shipbuilders: the nobleman Yakov Poluyaktov and the clerk Stepan Petrov. Since they had to deal with something new and not yet mastered, an experienced master Lambert Helt was invited from Holland.

The first ship Eagle

From the documents that have been preserved from that time, it follows that they decided to take the ship wood not far from Kolomna, and from there, along the Oka, raft to the new shipyard, and commission the entire Tula and Kashira masters with the production of the Eagle ship hardware.We also decided on the manufacture of sails and ropes.

At the beginning of the thorny path

Early in the morning of November 14, 1667, after serving a prayer service and blessing, as is customary among good people, they began to lay the ship. However, at first, the newly minted shipbuilders faced unexpected problems. They began with the fact that the Kolomna wood turned out to be unsuitable for the intended work, and in return, they had to carry logs from Murom, where they were harvested in the patrimony of the local archbishop.

In addition, the carpenters blundered. Familiar to the construction of houses and churches, they were helpless at the shipyard and could not understand what Lambert Gelt, who did not speak Russian, wanted from them. I had to let them go in peace, and to write out experienced carpenters from the same Holland.

Russian ship Eagle

But the main obstacle to the initiated case was the obvious sabotage on the part of the boyar elite, in whose opinion the construction of the Eagle was not a solution to the urgent problem of that time, but only a minute whim of the sovereign. And in general, the boyars did not see any good in the creation of the navy. They reasoned like this: "Fathers-grandfathers lived without him, and we will live."

Ship enthusiast

And the business that would have barely begun would have collapsed had it not been for the persistence and perseverance of the chief “foreman” ─ Athanasius Ordin-Nashchokin. It was through his efforts that the Dutch masters were brought to work, and three dozens of local carpenters were forced to help them from Kolomna and Dedinov. In addition, he also managed to find suitable blacksmiths, gunners, as well as woodcarvers and ropemakers. The boyars "thanked" him for this vicious persecution, considering it an upstart and a conniver of empty ploys. Ignoring the good initiative, they tried with all their might to humiliate and slander his real performer.

Completion of major works

The first Russian ship "Eagle", laid at the shipyard in Dedinovo, was built according to a project developed by the Dutch Colonel Cornelius fan Bucovien. With a hull length of 24.5 m and a width of 6.5 m, it had a displacement of 250 tons and a half-meter draft. There are records, according to which the cost of the first-born of the Russian fleet was 2,221 rubles, which in those times represented a huge amount.

Warship Eagle

In the spring of 1668, when the bulk of the work was completed, 22 Dutch sailors arrived in Dedinovo, who were to become the crew of the first Russian ship, the Oryol. Together with them, the future captain of the ship David Butler (also, of course, the Dutchman) also came forward.Under his control and with the participation of the crew on the ship, the last works were carried out before launching.


In the spring of May 19, 1668, a brand-new ship with a tricolor flag on the mast slid off the stocks and rocked on the river waves. At his helm, Captain David Butler stood with a pipe in his mouth. This had its own symbolism: Russia, as it were, took the baton from Holland, which was then among the leading maritime powers of the world. Further work was already done afloat. Calling the ship "Eagle", its creators decorated with carved images of this main element of the Russian coat of arms his bow and stern. Eagle flaunted and aft flag.

Continuing ordeal

In such a festive and elegant form, the frigate stood at the wall of the shipyard for another year before it was able to go on its first voyage. The reason was still in the same sluggishness and negligence of the land Russian officials, who continued to continue to interfere with the work by all available means.

The first Russian ship Eagle

While delayed, the locals managed to plunder many of the iron and copper parts of the ship, which had to be done anew.When Athanasius Ordin-Nashchokin turned to the Pushkarsky order with a request to send blacksmiths to re-fabricate the lost, he was refused. Only the intervention of the sovereign made the clerks of the clerks send the blacksmith to Dedinovo, and then only one. The Dutch looked gloomily at what was happening around them, cursed in an incomprehensible language and threatened to leave for their homeland ...

First swim

Nevertheless, there is a limit to everything, even bureaucratic red tape. A year after launching, namely on May 7, 1669, the Eagle ─ the first ship, created by foreign masters, but still on Russian soil ─ went down the Oka River. Having completed a nearly three-month voyage, the Eagle arrived in Nizhny Novgorod, where 35 gallant archers climbed aboard, the task of which was to ensure the proper combat capability of the vessel. Their armament consisted of 40 muskets, 22 pischals, 40 pistols and several baskets of hand grenades. There were no guns on the ship.

Creating a ship charter

The conscientious captain Butler considered it his duty to compile and submit a ship charter for Ordin-Nashchokin’s signature. It consisted of 34 articles detailing the responsibilities of all crew members and other officials during the anchorage of the vessel, as well as in the conditions of navigation and combat.In compiling it, the Dutch maritime charter was adopted, revised in accordance with Russian peculiarities.

Model ship Eagle

This document, signed by the boyar Ordin-Nashchokin, was sent to the Ambassadorial Order, and from there fell into the hands of the sovereign himself. Having approved it, Alexei Mikhailovich once again testified that the construction of the warship "Orel" was not an accidental phenomenon, but laid the foundation for the creation of a regular Russian fleet.

The sad end of the unbeaten path

However, it did not happen to prove itself in the case of the firstborn of the Russian fleet. As mentioned above, in Nizhny Novgorod, he took on his side a squad of archers, with whom he went to Astrakhan, where winter caught him. Soon after, the city was captured by the Cossacks of Stepan Razin, and the ship was among their trophies. Initially, it was believed that the rebels, having plundered the ship, burned it, because they did not know how to manage it, however, as it turned out later, the situation was different.

The Cossacks still managed to depart on it from the pier and even drove the ship into one of the Volga canals, called Kutum, and there, deliberately or because of inexperience, were stranded.Historians believe that they did this so that government forces could not use the frigate against them. It was there that the first Russian warship "Eagle" and completed its short century. All that rose above the water, the locals dragged to the wood, and the rest is gradually rotted and turned into dust.

The first warship Eagle

Memory ascended to the Admiralty spire

Nevertheless, the frigate "Eagle" forever occupied an honorable place in the history of Russia. And it is quite natural. First of all, he became the ancestor of the entire Russian fleet, which later gained unfading glory on the expanses of all the seas and oceans. It is no coincidence that, recalling him, Peter I said that even though the shipbuilders' good undertaking did not receive due completion, it was still worthy of eternal glorification, since it contained the seed of future great accomplishments. Not without reason the model of the ship "Eagle" occupies one of the most honorable places in the exposition of the St. Petersburg Naval Museum and always attracts the attention of tourists.

In addition, as mentioned in the beginning of the article, it is believed that the frigate “Eagle” was the prototype of the famous ship on the Admiralty spire,created in 1719 by the Dutch master Harman van Bolos and one of the historical symbols of St. Petersburg. In any case, its outlines are surprisingly similar to the image of the "Eagle", preserved in historical documents.

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