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The Imperial Russian Navy operated out of Kronstadt, next to St. Petersburg. Well before sending the Nadezhda and Neva into the Pacific in 1803, the empire had Pacific ports like Okhotsk, accessible by land from Yakutsk, as well as several in Kamchatka, generally reached by sea. Okhotsk had a shipyard, as well as a commandant who was tried by the Admiralty (thanks @PieterGeerkens), but I can't tell yet if the Kamchatka commandants were in the navy too.

During Catherine the Great's rule (1762-1796), to which military force and commandant were the Kamchatka detachments in Bolsheretsk and Nizhnekamchatsk responsible?

  • When? Circa 1806 is when Captain Bukharin held command, or are you interested in the Crimean War period, the Russo-Japanese War period, or the First World War period. – Pieter Geerkens Jan 7 '18 at 22:01
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    Any Captain in charge of a naval base is almost certainly a Naval Captain, which has three levels of seniority on an Army Captain (and who typically commands only a company of only about 150 men). Captain Bukharin was in fact a Naval Captain. – Pieter Geerkens Jan 7 '18 at 22:26
  • @PieterGeerkens I've seen these locations described as ports, towns, or harbors, but never until now as naval bases. Where did you find out about Bukharin? – Aaron Brick Jan 8 '18 at 1:05
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    I googled him. Since he reported to the Russian Admiralty, he must have been a Naval Captain. – Pieter Geerkens Jan 8 '18 at 1:12
  • Thank you for pointing out that detail! Make it an answer and I will accept. – Aaron Brick Jan 8 '18 at 1:34
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The general rule is that the command is with the most relevant officer.

E.g., an amphibious operation is commanded by the naval commander. I.e., when a ship lands an amphibious force on an enemy shore, the overall commanding officer is the ship's captain, not the amphibious force's commander. Moreover, even if the ship is lost and all troops are now ashore, the command remains with the ship's captain.

Similarly, a port will normally be commanded by a naval officer (unless it is under a land siege).

I know the answer is even broader than the question...

  • I dispute this in principle, without specific examples. There is, and has been for several centuries, an accepted correspondence between naval and non-naval ranks. It is my belief that the highest ranking officer has overall command, with ties broken by date of each officer's most recent commission. If the tie still stands by date, then service priority rules - Naval highest for Great Britain, Non-Naval highest for every European nation I can think of. Further, it doesn't answer the question asked either by officer or port. – Pieter Geerkens Jan 8 '18 at 21:37
  • @PieterGeerkens: you are talking about seniority, I am talking about operational command. A junior officer may be in charge and give orders to a senior one. – sds Jan 8 '18 at 22:09
  • As I told my (newly commissioned) son: Never make a significant decision without first asking your Sergeant for input. The most senior officer is still responsible for the overall command - but will delegate operational authority to appropriate less senior officers. There absolutely must be an unambiguous command structure at all times, and the only one that exists, that everyone knows their position in, is seniority. Otherwise everything hinges on only taking the right casualties – Pieter Geerkens Jan 8 '18 at 23:15
  • @PieterGeerkens: The situation when a Colonel reports to a Major was not unheard of in the Soviet Army. This is what I meant: an officer with a clear rank seniority is not the commanding officer and takes orders from an officer of a lower rank. – sds Jan 8 '18 at 23:18
  • I know more junior political officers at times held veto over orders - but I never heard of them having operational command over more senior officers. If absolutely necessary, that would typically be arranged by assigning a brevet rank for duration of the mission. That would be similar to the use of the title Commodore before it became an official rank. – Pieter Geerkens Jan 8 '18 at 23:21

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