This page was created by James Browning. 

The Imperiia Project: a spatial history of the Russian Empire

Moving Forward

Catherine's order for 20 warships sent the Admiralty scrambling. In order to build and deliver such a fleet within five years, the Admiralty estimated it would require not only the material for the ships themselves, but enough material to build 15 to 20 slipways (for comparison, the Arkhangelsk Admiralty had only 9 slipways, 3 of which were built in 1773).They decided to start harvesting trees as soon as possible from as far away as Kaluga and Tula so that the wood might have enough time to properly dry before being used in the shipbuilding process. An initial sum of 15,000 rubles was allocated for the acquisition of materials on February 6, 1776 and by the following month, before the ice had even thawed, Senyavin ordered 2,650 pine logs and 2,085 pine boards be sent to either Aleksandr-Shantsy or Kizikermen', another fortified location farther upriver, so that the construction of a temporary shipyard could begin as soon as a specific site was identified and that the admiralty could start fulfilling Catherine's order.
Further investigations by the admiralty into sources of wood and depth readings along the Dnepr continued to favor Aleksandr-Shantsy and by the end of 1777, the admiralty had decided to allocate 47,722 rubles for the construction of temporary stores, workshops, and slipways for three ships near the fortress. The admiralty further suggested that the wood sent to Kiev for the construction of three ships and to Mogilev for the construction of two be diverted instead to Aleksandr-Shantsy to expedite the construction process. Catherine II initially supported the operation, appointing Prince Potemkin to oversee the construction and further expanding it in the spring of 1778 with the precise allocation of 104,979 rubles and 83½ kopeks for the construction of six slipways near Alexandr-Shantsy. She later balked at the expense, however, and announced that allocating such a sum toward temporary constructions would result only in structures that were intended to fall apart and lead to a “fruitless waste of money.”

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