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In the war of 1787-91, Don Josef de Ribas, a soldier of fortune born in Naples of Spanish and Irish stock and one of many adventures in Catherine's service, stormed the fortress of Yeny-Dunai at Khadzhibei. Catherine the Great apparently considered making the port of Ochakov, near the mouth of the Boh river, the effective capital of Novorossiya. But Ochakov lacked a good natural harbour. On the other hand, de Ribas and a close collaborator, a Dutch engineer named Franz de Volan, recommended Khadzhibei as the site of the region's principal port. Its harbour was deep and nearly ice-free. Breakwaters, on the model of those found at Naples, Livorno and Ancona, could be cheaply constructed and would render the harbour safe even for large fleets.

   
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