Joseph Billlngs, an English navigator in the service of Russia, lived at the end of the 18th century. He accompanied Cook in his last voyage, and was intrusted with the astronomical department. In 1785 Catharine II. took him into her service, and sent him on an expedition to the Arctic ocean and the seas situated between Siberia and the continent of America. He set out overland in October, 1785, reached the Kolyma river in N. Siberia, and put to sea with two vessels in 1787. The expedition sailed toward the Arctic ocean, went five leagues beyond Cape Baranov, and returned to the Kolyma, whose course he explored for a considerable distance. At Okhotsk, on the Pacific coast, he built two ships for the American expedition, started anew in September, 1789, lost one of his ships, and cast anchor at the port of Petropavlovsk, where he wintered. In March, 1790, he set out to visit the islands on the south of Alaska, landed at Unalashka, traversed the island of Unimak, and cast anchor at Kadiak. In July he penetrated into Prince William sound, and cast anchor where Cook had been in 1778. He examined Cook strait thoroughly.

His provisions now began to run short, and not having means to winter in these savage regions, he returned to Kam-tchatka in 1791. An account of his voyage, written by Martin Sauer, was published in English at London in 1802.