Otto von Kotzebue

Birth: 1787


Otto von Kotzebue (1787-1846) was a Russian navigator, second son of the foregoing, was born at Reval on the 30th of December 1787. After being educated at the St Petersburg school of cadets, he accompanied Krusenstern on his voyage of 1803-1806. After his promotion to lieutenant Kotzebue was placed in command of an expedition, fitted out at the expense of the imperial chancellor, Count Rumantsoff, in the brig " Rurick."

In this vessel, with only twenty-seven men, Kotzebue set out on the 3oth of July 1815 to find a passage across the Arctic Ocean and explore the less-known parts of Oceania. Proceeding by Cape Horn, he discovered the Romanzov, Rurik and Krusenstern Islands, then made for Kamchatka, and in the middle of July proceeded northward, coasting along the north-west coast of America, and discovering and naming Kotzebue Gulf or Sound and Krusenstern Cape. Returning by the coast of Asia, he again sailed to the south, sojourned for three weeks at the Sandwich Islands, and on the ISL of January 1817 discovered New Year Island.

After some further cruising in the Pacific he again proceeded north, but a severe attack of illness compelling him to return to Europe, he reached the Neva on the 3rd of August 1818, bringing home a large collection of previously unknown plants and much new ethnological information. In 182 3 Kotzebue, now a captain, was entrusted with the command of an expedition in two ships of war, the main object of which was to take reinforcements to Kamchatka.

There was, however, a staff of scientists on board, who collected much valuable information and material in geography, ethnography and natural history. The expedition, proceeding by Cape Horn, visited the Radak and Society Islands, and reached Petropavlovsk in July 1824. Many positions along the coast were rectified, the Navigator islands visited, and several discoveries made. The expedition returned by the Marianna, Philippine, New Caledonia and Hawaiian Islands, reaching Kronstadt on the 10th of July 1826.

There are English translations of both Kotzebue's narratives: A Voyage of Discovery into the South Sea and Beering's Straits for the Purpose of exploring a North-East Passage, undertaken in the Years 1815-1818 (3 vols. 1821), and A New Voyage Round the World in the Years 182 3-1826 (1830). Three years after his return from his second voyage, Kotzebue died at Reval on the 15th of February 1846.


1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 15. pg 920

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