This page was created by James Browning. 

The Imperiia Project: a spatial history of the Russian Empire

The Final Decision

Despite Catherine II's explicit preference for building the entire port-city and shipyard at Glubokaia Pristan', the Admiralty doubled-down in defense of its decision to begin the construction of a temporary shipyard at Aleksandr-Shantsy, arguing that if the city, harbor, and shipyard were to be built at one location, then Aleksandr-Shantsy would be far more suitable than Glubokaia Pristan'. According to their investigations, the waters near Alexandr-Shantsy allowed for ships to be safely launched from their slipways and then anchored for the winter without any danger. The nearest shoals downriver could be dredged and the shallows at the mouth of the Dnepr could be passed with the help of ship camels or the spring floods. Furthermore, the mouth of the Dnepr was more defensible than the estuary narrows (particularly since the Ottomans still commanded the fortress of Ochakov, the northern pincer of the narrow’s entrance) and could be protected by mobile artillery barges that could positioned according to need. In terms of logistics, supply lines to estuary would be longer, increasing the price of wood and multiplying the expenses that would go into constructions at Glubokaia Pristan'. Alexandr-Shantsy was farther up the Dnepr than desired, but “in consideration of its benefits, marine and terrestrial,” and discounting the fact that the construction of a shipyard that had already begun, the Admiralty-Board and its Vice President, Count Chernyshev formally presented Catherine II with this location as the final base of the Empire’s Black Sea operations. The proposal was ultimately accepted and the place was to be named Kherson in honor of the ancient Greek colony on the Crimean Peninsula, Chersones.

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