Tag Archives: battleship Slava

Warship Wednesday, July 15, 2020: 3 Names, 5 Flags, 6 Wars

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, July 15, 2020: 3 Names, 5 Flags, 6 Wars

Here we see Avtroil, a humble member of the Izyaslav-subclass of the Imperial Russian Navy’s Novik-class of fast destroyers, afloat in the Baltic around 1917. He (Russian ships are addressed as male, not female) would go on to have a complicated life.

Built for the Tsar

Ordered as part of the 1913 enhanced shipbuilding program– the Tsar had a whole fleet to rebuild after the twin disasters of Port Arthur and Tshuma after all– the Izyaslavs were part of an envisioned 35-ship destroyer build that never got that big. Nonetheless, at 1,440-tons with five 4-inch guns and nine 450mm Whitehead torpedo tubes in three batteries, these 325-foot greyhounds were plenty tough for their time. Speaking of which, capable of 35-knots on their turbine suite, built with the help of the French Augustin Normand company, they were about the fastest thing on the ocean. Hell, fast forward a century and they would still be considered fast today.

Class leader Izyaslav. He would later wear the name “Karl Marx” after the Revolution, because why not?.

In the end, only three Izyaslavs would be finished to include Avtroil and Pryamislav, before the Russians moved on to more improved Noviks to include the Gogland, Fidonisni and Ushakovskaya subclasses. They were curious ships outfitted by a multinational conglomerate, as the Russian Imperial Navy’s purchasing agents seemed to have loved variety. They had Vickers-made Swiss-designed Brown-Boveri steam turbines, Norman boilers, and British/Italian armament produced under license at Obukhov.

Laid down in 1913 at Becker & Co JSC, Revel, while Russia was under the Romanov flag, he was completed in August 1917 as the property of the Russian Provisional Government, which was still nominally in the Great War, in effect changing flags between his christening and commissioning.

His new crew sortied with the battleship Slava to fight in the Battle of Moon Sound (Moonsund) in October, one of the Kaiser’s fleet’s last surface action. While Slava didn’t make it out alive, Avtroil did, although he exchanged enough licks with the Germans to carry away three 88mm shell holes in him.

Fighting for the Reds

When the Russian Baltic Fleet raised the red flag in November to side with Lenin’s mob, Avtroil followed suit as he sat in fortified Helsingfors (Helsinki), hiding from the Germans.

Under Russian service

To keep one step ahead of said Teutons, he joined the great “Ice Cruise” in February 1918 to Kronstadt, the last bastion of the Russian fleet in the Baltic.

Painting of the famed icebreaker Yermak opening a way to other ships on the Ice Cruise, seen as the chrysalis moment for the Red Navy. The fleet withdrew six battleships, five cruisers, 59 destroyers and torpedo boats, and a dozen submarines from former Russian bases in Estonia and Finland, eventually back to Kronstadt.

When the Great War ended and the Russian Civil War began, the British moved in to intervene on the side of the newly formed Baltic republics and the anti-Bolshevik White Russians. On 24 November 1918, RADM Sir Edwin Alexander Sinclair was dispatched to the Baltic with the 6th Light Cruiser Squadron (five C-class light cruisers) of which HMS Cardiff was his flagship, the 13th Destroyer Flotilla (nine V and W-class destroyers) and, because the Baltic in WWI was a mine war at a level no one had seen before, the 3rd Minesweeping Flotilla (seven minesweepers) as well as two minelayers and three tankers. Sinclair also brought newly surplus military aid– to include 100 Lewis guns, 50 Madsen LMGs, 5,000 American-made P14 Enfield rifles, and 6.7 million rounds of .303-caliber ammunition– as a gift to bolster the locals against the Reds.

This put the Red Fleet, the most reliable unit in the Soviet military, on the front line of a new war in the Baltic.

Avtroil was assigned to a special task force consisting of the 7,000-ton Bogatyr-class protected cruiser Oleg and his Novik/Ilyin-class destroyer half-brother Spartak (Sparticus, ex-Kapitan Kingsbergen, ex-Kapitan Miklukho-Maklay).

While scouting close to Estonian waters to assess the British disposition near Aegna and Naissaar on the night of 26 December, Spartak bumped into five Royal Navy destroyers. Attempting to escape, the Russian destroyer ran aground at Kuradimuna, and, surrendering, was towed to Tallinn (recently renamed Revel).

The next morning, Avtroil was sent to look for the overdue Spartak. Acting on tips from shore stations who sent sightings of the Russian destroyer to Tallinn, the British destroyers HMS Vendetta and HMS Vortigern are dispatched to intercept. Seeing these on the horizon, Avtroil attempted to beat feet to the East and the safety of Korndstadt but, after a 35-minute chase, ran into a returning patrol of the cruisers HMS Calypso and HMS Caradoc, accompanied by the destroyer HMS Wakeful. The crew of Avtroil struck their red flag near Mohni Island.

They didn’t really have much of a choice in the matter, as the hapless crews of the Russian ships couldn’t coax more than 15 knots out of their speedy destroyers. You have to keep in mind that the most radicalized Red sailors came from the harshly-treated stokers and engineering space guys, many of whom volunteered for Naval Red Guard units who fought on land during the Civil War. This left the Russian Baltic Fleet poorly manned in technical ratings, poorly led (the crews shot their officers and senior NCOs wholesale in 1917, replacing them with 850 assorted Sailors’ Committees), and poorly maintained. No wonder a small British squadron ran rampant over the Gulf of Finland in 1918-19!

Oleg managed to slip through the net only to be sunk six months later by British torpedo boats at anchor.

AVTROIL, right, surrendering to a British destroyer in the Baltic, possibly HMS Wakeful (H88). Naval History and Heritage Command NH 47620

AVTROIL, left, photographed in the Baltic Sea, captured by a British destroyer, right, most likely Wakeful. Wakeful would later be sunk off Dunkirk, torpedoed by the German submarine U-30 on 29 May 1940, taking 638 soldiers and 85 members of the Ship’s Company with her. Courtesy of Mr. Boris V. Drashpil of Margate, Fla., 1983. NH 94210

Welcome to Estonia!

The British towed their second prize in as many days to Revel, the former Russian naval base turned Tallinn, the new Estonian capital. There, the Soviet crews were interned. Those captured Russians who wanted to return home were later exchanged with the Reds for 17 British servicemembers, nine who participated in the raid June 1919 raid on Kronstadt, and eight downed aircrewmen lost in the August/September floatplane raids on the Bolshevik fortress.

Adm. Sinclair arrived in Tallinn on 28 December 1918 for the inspection of the captured destroyers.

THE BRITISH NAVAL CAMPAIGN IN THE BALTIC, 1918-1919 (Q 19334) A sentry aboard the Royal Navy cruiser HMS CARADOC at Reval (Tallinn), showing ice-covered decks. December 1918. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205253750

The captured vessels were soon turned over to the nascent Estonian Navy. On 2 January 1919, RN Capt. Bertram Sackville Thesiger, the skipper of Calypso, met with the brand-new Commander of the Estonian Navy, Capt. Johan Pitka, onboard the uncrewed Avtroil to discuss the transfer. Avtroil would be renamed EML Lennuk while Spartak would become EML Wambola on 4 January 1919.

Destroyer Avtroil in Estonian waters

Estonian destroyer Wambola (ex-Spartak) on the dock at Tallinn. While of a similar design, layout, and armament to Avtroil, he had German-made Vulkan boilers and AEG turbines

Repaired and under a new flag– Avtroil’s third for those keeping track at home– they would sail against the Reds later that summer until Moscow recognized Estonia’s independence the next year.

Lennuk and Wambola in Estonian service note gunnery clocks added by the British and recognition stripes on masts. If you compare this image to the one under Russian service from roughly the same angle, you will note the lack of clocks and stripes. 

Eventually, cash-strapped Estonia– which had suffered through the Great War, German occupation, their own short but brutal campaign for independence and following reconstruction– looked at their surplus Russian destroyers and decided to pass them on for more than what they had in them.

From the frozen Baltic to the steaming Amazon

Laid up since 1920, they were sold to Peru in April 1933 for $820,000, leaving the Estonian Navy with only a single surface warfare ship, the Sulev— which was the once-scuttled former German torpedo boat A32. The tiny republic used the money, along with some public subscription, to order two small, but modern, coastal minelaying submarines from Britain.  

Spartak/Wambola became BAP Almirante Villar while Avtroil/Lennuk would become BAP Almirante Guise, ironically named after a British-born Peruvian naval hero that had fought at Trafalgar.

The reason for the Peruvian destroyer purchase was that Lima was gearing up for a border conflict with Colombia that never really got much past the skirmish stage. Nonetheless, they did serve in a wary blockade of the Colombian coast and exchanged fire with a group of mercenaries squatting on what was deemed to be part of Peru, by the Peruvians, anyway.

ALMIRANTE GUISE Peruvian DD, 1915 Caption: In Colon Harbor, Panama, 26 June 1934, transiting to the Pacific.. She was formerly the Estonian DD LENNUK and Russian DD AVTROIL NARA 80-G-455951

Same as above, different view. 80-G-455952

Same, stern. Note mine-laying stern, her British-installed range clocks, men on deck in undershirts. 80-G-455949

Once in the Pacific, the destroyers were modernized, mounting some Italian-made Breda 20mm AAA guns. Apparently, the Peruvians were also able to get 4-inch shells and torpedoes from the Italians as well. Peru at the time only had a small (~3,000-ton) pair of old protected cruisers, making the repurposed Russian tin cans their most valuable naval assets.

Callao, Peru during the division of Cruiser Division 7 under Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, USN, May 26 to 31, 1939. Ships from left to right are Peruvian Cruisers CORONEL BOLOGNESI (1906-1958) and ALMIRANTE GRAU (1906-1958), behind BOLOGNESI), destroyers ALMIRANTE, VILLAR (1915-c1954), ex Estonian VAMBOLA ex Russian SPARTAK) and ALMIRANTE GUISE (1915-c1947), ex Estonian LENNUK, ex Russian AVTROIL, and USS TUSCALOOSA (CA-37), SAN FRANCISCO (CA-38), and QUINCY (CA-39). NH 42782

Cruiser BAP Almirante Grau (3,100t, circa 1907, 2x6inch guns), destroyers of BAP Villar and BAP Guise, and an R-class submarine of the Peruvian Navy during naval maneuvers in 1940. The floatplanes are two of six Fairey Fox Mk IVs bought by the Peruvian Air Force in 1933 along with four Curtis F-8 Falcons during tensions with Colombia. The Peruvian Navy operated three Douglas DTB torpedo bomber floatplanes and at least one Vought O2U Corsair. Colorized by Diego Mar/Postales Navales

The low-mileage pre-owned tin cans were put to more effective use in the “Guerra del 41,” the Ecuadorian–Peruvian War. Almirante Guise carried out patrols in front of the Jambelí channel, bombarded Punta Jambelí and Puerto Bolívar, and supported the Peruvian advance on El Oro. Meanwhile, his near-brother Almirante Villar was on convoy duty and fought a one-sided surface action against the elderly Ecuadorian gunboat BAE Abdón Calderón (300t, c1884, 2x76mm guns).

Once the conflict with Ecuador died down, another one was just kicking off. Under U.S. pressure, Peru broke off relations with the Axis powers in January 1942 and, while friendly to the Allies and increasingly hostile to the Axis, only declared war against Germany and Japan in February 1945. The Peruvian Navy was the only force “active” in the conflict, engaging in armed neutrality patrols throughout 1942-43. For those keeping score, WWII would be the Russian destroyers sixth-ish conflict following the Great War, the Russian Civil War, Estonian Independence, the Colombian skirmishes, and the Guerra del 41.

In the 1946 Jane’s, the two Russo-Estonian brothers were listed as Peru’s only destroyers.

Meanwhile, Avtroil’s two brothers back in the Motherland would not have such a sedate Second World War. Izyaslav, naturally renamed Karl Marx, was sunk by a German air raid in August 1941. Pryamislav, renamed Kalinin after Stalin’s favorite yes man, was lost in a German minefield the same month near the island of Mokhni in the Gulf of Finland. Ironically, it was Mokhni where the British had captured Avtroil two decades prior.

The last of his kind, Avtroil, and his half-brother Almirante Villar would endure for another decade.

Almirante Guise via the Dirección de Intereses Marítimos-Archivo Histórico de Marina

Decommissioned in 1949, they were slowly scrapped above the waterline through 1954. Their hulks reportedly remain off Peru’s Isla de San Lorenzo naval base/penal colony. Their names were later recycled for a pair of Fletcher-class destroyers, USS Benham (DD-796) and USS Isherwood (DD-520), acquired in the 1960s and used into the 1980s.

Avtroil/Guise is remembered both in Russian maritime art and Peruvian postal stamps.

The British also have a souvenir or three. His Soviet flag is in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich while other objects are in the IWM.

Specs:


Displacement: 1,350 long tons, 1,440 full. (Listed as 2,200 late in career)
Length: 325 ft 2 in (listed as 344.5 in 1945)
Beam: 30 ft 10 in (listed as 31.5 in 1945)
Draft: 9 ft 10 in (listed as 11.8 in 1945)
Propulsion: 2 Brown-Boveri steam turbines driving 2 shafts, 5 Norman boilers, 32,700 shp
Speed: 35 knots max (on trials). Listed as 30 knots even late in career.
Oil: 450 tons, 2,400 nm at 15 knots
Complement: 142
Armor: 38mm shields on some of the 4-inch guns
Armament:
(as of 1918)
5 x 1 102mm L/60 Pattern 1911 Vickers-Obukhov guns
1 x 1 76mm AA mount M1914/15
3 x 3 450mm Whitehead torpedo tubes
2 x Maxim machine guns
80 Model 1912 naval mines.
(1945)
5 x 1 102mm L/60 Pattern 1911 Vickers-Obukhov guns
2 x 20 mm/70cal Breda AA guns
3 x machine guns

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Of Russians and palm trees

In December 1908, when the slava Glory was in the Sicilian city of Messina, there was the strongest earthquake.

Click to big up

Here we see past Warship Wednesday alumni and the only survivor of the Borodino-class of predeadnought battleship Slava (Russian: Слава “Glory“) in December 1908, while in the Sicilian city of Messina providing assistance to the locals following a strong earthquake that left as many as 200,000 dead.

We say Slava was the last of class because her four sister ships–Borodino, Imperator Alexander III, Knyaz Suvorov, and Oryol– were all either sunk or captured at the Battle of Tsushima, 27 May 1905 during the Russo-Japanese War, which was its own sort of strong earthquake for Tsarist Russia.

Warship Wednesday November 19, 2014 the Hard-to-Kill Russian Crown Prince

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, November 19, 2014, the Hard to Kill Russian Crown Prince

Tsarvitch at Portsmouth 1903
Here we see the Tsar’s own pre-dreadnought battleship Tsesarevich (Цесаревич, also transliterated as Tsarvitch and Czarevitch = “Crown Prince”) of the Imperial Russian Navy at Portsmouth 1903, just after commissioning, on her way to the Pacific.

She was the only ship of her class, built in France at Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée, La Seyne-Sur-Mer. The same yard had produced a series of 12,000-ton leviathans for the French Navy (Jauréguiberry et. al.) and patterned the new Russian ship along those lines.

The new ship would be 388-feet long and very beamy at some 76-feet, giving her a 5:1 length-to-beam ratio that was accentuated by her 1900s typical tumblehome hull (now brought back for the USS Zumwalt super destroyer). Weighing in at 13,000-tons due to her thicker armor (up to 10-inches of good German Krupp plate), she was powered by 20 Belleville water-tube boilers who ate coal like it was going out of style.

A view inside one of the 12/40cal mounts

A view inside one of the 12/40cal mounts

Armament was in two pairs of impressive Russian designed 12-inch/40 (305mm) low-angle naval rifles mounted in double turrets fore and aft with six  French-made Canet Model 1892 6-inch gun in double tube turrets arrayed along the hull of the ship.

At the builder's yard on launching day.

At the builder’s yard on launching day.

Capable of 18-knots and able to steam over 6,000nm before needed more coal, she was capable of deploying to the Pacific, which was to be her homeport at Port Arthur.

The Tsesarevich himself. He was born in 1904, with the ship that carried his title outliving him. He was executed July 1918 by the Reds at age 17.

The Tsesarevich himself. He was born in 1904, with the ship that carried his title outliving him. He was executed July 1918 by the Reds at age 17.

The Tsar’s naval architects liked her well enough that they used the design with only minor changes to build five ships of the same type in Russia. Of these five follow-on ships of the Borodino-class battleships, four near-sisterships of the Tsesarevich: Borodino, Imperator Alexander III, Knyaz Suvorov, and Oryol, were all either sunk or captured at the Battle of Tsushima, 27 May 1905 during the Russo-Japanese War. Warship Wednesday-alumni Slava, the last of the class to commission, only survived because she was under construction during the war and never left the Baltic.

Vladimir-Emyshev's painting "Battleship Tsesarevitch"

Vladimir-Emyshev’s painting “Battleship Tsesarevitch”

Laid down 8 July 1899, Tsesarevich was complete by late 1903 and rushed to the Pacific where tensions with the Japanese were mounting. In truth, just 68 days after she arrived at Port Arthur, she was attacked at her anchorage without warning by a torpedo boat of the Japanese Imperial Navy.

Tsessarevich02

Shrugging off damage from a Nippon torpedo, she was hastily repaired. However, Tsesarevich, along with most of the Russian 1st Pacific Squadron, was blockaded in the port while the Japanese landed armies to besiege the far-flung and isolated Manchurian installation. Facing the ignoble fate of being sunk at anchor by Japanese Army howitzers firing over the hills into the harbor, Admiral Vitgeft took command of the fleet, with his flag on the brand-new and recently patched-up Tsesarevich, and sailed out on 10 August 1904 to break the Japanese fleet in half– then make good their retreat to Vladivostok before that harbor was iced in for the winter.

d97e11ddfc25

However, things soon turned pretty shitty for the Russians and within minutes, the Russian force of five battleships and four light cruisers and eight destroyers met Togo’s force of four battleships, two heavy cruisers, and seven light. After six hours of vain maneuvering on both sides, Tsesarevich was riddled with over a dozen large-caliber Japanese shells from the Japanese battleship Asahi that killed Vitgeft and shot up most of the ship’s topside.

While the Russian 2iC withdrew back into Port Arthur, (to have his new command sunk in December and his landlubber crews captured when that harbor fell to the Japanese January 2, 1905), Tsesarevich limped away into the night with three destroyers to try to make Vladivostok.

Computer generated image of a Borodino Class Battleship in action at Tsushima. Tsarevitch had her turn in the barrel in August 1904 and four out of five of her sisters would sink the following Spring in that epic naval clash.

Computer generated image of a Borodino Class Battleship in action at Tsushima. Tsarevitch had her turn in the barrel in August 1904 and four out of five of her sisters would sink the following Spring in that epic naval clash.

Unable to do make it Vladivostok due to smoke and sparks escaping from her nearly shot-away stacks, Tsesarevich  instead made for the closest non-Japanese harbor and was interned at the German treaty port of Tsingtao, to be nominally disarmed and sit out the rest of the war under the protection of the guns of the Kaiserlichemarine‘s Far East Squadron. There she remained even when the Japanese sank the Tsar’s Baltic Fleet (renamed the 2nd Pacific Squadron), rushed to avenge previous losses, at Tsushima.

Interned at Tsingtao, 1904.

Interned at Tsingtao, 1904.

Demolished compartment

Demolished compartment

Damage from more than a dozen hits from Togo's fleet

Damage from more than a dozen hits from Togo’s fleet

Damage to her side belt. Note the 6-inch turret

Damage to her side belt. Note the 6-inch turret

Splinters

Splinters

A Japanese 6-inch shell through her deck

A Japanese 6-inch shell through her deck

Another view

Another view

When the war ended that September, the rested Tsesarevich sailed back for the Baltic where she, along with her only surviving sister Slava, formed the backbone of the Baltic Fleet. For the next several years, the bruised veteran, the only Russian battleship to make it out of Port Arthur, had a quiet life that consisted mainly of summer cruises around the jetties of the Finnish coastline (then part of the Russian Empire), and winter cruises once that sea froze over to the Med and Atlantic.

Russian battleship Tsesarevich, in Baltic 1913. Note classic white scheme with cap bands. These were the salad-days of her life.

Russian battleship Tsesarevich, in Baltic 1913. Note classic white scheme with cap bands. These were the salad-days of her life.

When the next war erupted, she and Slava, still in their default roles as battle sisters of the Baltic, barred the gates to the Gulf of Finland, supported Russian army operations ashore through naval gunfire, and generally tried to avoid being sunk by the Kaiser’s U-boats.

Russian battleship Tsesarevich, a pre-dreadnought battleship of the Imperial Russian Navy, docked Krondsdat, ca. 1915. Note dark wartime scheme

Russian battleship Tsesarevich, a pre-dreadnought battleship of the Imperial Russian Navy, docked Krondsdat, ca. 1915. Note dark wartime scheme

In March 1917, her crew joined the general mutiny of the Baltic Fleet and several of her officers were cashiered at the point of a bayonet. With senior NCOs largely in command of understrength divisions, the ship fought alongside Slava at the Battle of Moon Sound in October. Sadly, Slava was destroyed and Tsesarevich (renamed Grazhdanin= Citizen), took a licking from the German Koenig class dreadnought battleship SMS Kronpriz (Crown Prince, talk about irony).

Tsesarevich dropping it like its hot. Her 4x12-inch and 12x6-inch guns were typical of pre-Dreadnought battleships.

Tsesarevich dropping it like its hot. Her 4×12-inch and 12×6-inch guns were typical of pre-Dreadnought battleships.

She retired to the Russian base at Kronstadt, where the British attempted to sink her during the Russian Civil War without luck while most of her sailors shipped out to fight alongside Red Guards in the Ukraine and Siberia. Deprived of the technical expertise to make the ship function, she never sailed again.

In March 1921, her remaining crew, mainly junior rates who had never seen blue water, mutinied with the bulk of the fleet, this time against the Reds. That didn’t work out so well as the Red Army soon invaded the naval base, killing over 1,000 sailors outright and executing 2600 more after the rebellion was put down.

A non-functional hulk, Tsesarevich/Grazhdanin was stricken 21 November 1925 and scrapped although some of her guns endured as coastal artillery pieces into WWII and likely a few fired rounds in anger against the Germans once more.

Of her wartime enemies, the Japanese battleship Asahi was sent to the bottom by an American submarine in WWII while the German SMS Kronpriz was scuttled 21 June 1919 in Gutter Sound, Scapa Flow after internment following WWI, where her wreck lies today.

 

Specs:

French profile for the Tsesarevich

French profile for the Tsesarevich

Displacement: 13,105 t (12,898 long tons)
Length: 118.5 m (388 ft. 9 in)
Beam: 23.2 m (76 ft. 1 in)
Draught: 7.92 m (26 ft. 0 in)
Installed power: 16,300 ihp (12,200 kW)
20 Belleville boilers
Propulsion: 2 shafts, 2 Vertical triple-expansion steam engines
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Range: 5,500 nmi (10,200 km; 6,300 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 778–79
Armament:
2 × 2 – 305 mm (12 in) guns
6 × 2 – 152 mm (6 in) guns
20 × 1 – 75 mm (3 in) guns
20 × 1 – 47 mm (1.9 in) guns
8 × 1 – 37 mm (1.5 in) guns
4 × 381 mm (15 in) torpedo tubes
Armor:
Krupp armor
Waterline belt: 160–250 mm (6.3–9.8 in)
Deck: 40–50 mm (1.6–2.0 in)
Main Gun turrets: 250 mm (9.8 in)
Barbettes: 250 mm (9.8 in)
Conning tower: 254 mm (10.0 in)

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Warship Wednesday, February 20 2013

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Second battleship brigade in Helsingfors, winter 1914-1915
Here we see the Second Battleship Squadron of the Imperial Russian Navy’s Baltic Fleet with the ice and snow-clad Russian battleship Slava (Russian: Слава “Glory“) at anchor forefront in Helsinki during WWI. The Slava was one of the most famous and unlikely of Russian warships.

slava 1910
The last commissioned of a class of five Borodino-class battleships, her four sister ships: Borodino, Imperator Alexander III, Knyaz Suvorov, and Oryol, were all either sunk or captured at the Battle of Tsushima, 27 May 1905 during the Russo-Japanese War. Slava herself would more than likely have shared the same fate if it wasn’t for the fact that she was still under construction until October of that year.

The Slava at anchor off an unanmed inlet on the Finnish coast (Finalnd was part of Tsarist Russia at the time) guarding the Tsar and his yacht while the monarch, his family, and his suite relax ashore

The Slava at anchor off an unnamed inlet on the Finnish coast (Finland was part of Tsarist Russia at the time) guarding the Tsar and his yacht while the monarch, his family, and his suite relax ashore

As the largest and best-equipped battleship left in the Tsar’s Baltic Fleet until the Gangut class dreadnoughts were built, the Slava became a default flagship for the decade of service before WWI. During the war, she was the head of the Second Battleship Squadron (the Ganguts were the First) of three other pre-dreadnoughts. Slava, with just a pair of gunboats as escorts, sailed into the Gulf of Riga in 1915 to challenge the Germans there.

She exchanged fire first with the German pre-dreadnoughts Elsass and Braunschweig, then the Nassau and Posen a week later. Slava flooded her side compartments to give herself a 3° list which increased her maximum range to about 18,000 yards. For two years, Slava slugged it out with German ships and engaged the Kaisers troops onshore. Finally in 1917 the large modern dreadnoughts König and Kronprinz sailed into the Gulf and exchanged heavy fire with the old obsolete Slava in what became known as the Battle of Moon Sound.

After the Battle of Moon Sound

After the Battle of Moon Sound

Her 12-inch magazine exploded just after her crew scuttled her and the Russians fired six torpedoes into her hull for good measure. Her remains were salvaged in 1935.

In the end, her four sisters were sunk before she was born, but she successfully fought off four German battleships of the same vintage on her home territory before the Kaiser had to send a pair of his most modern sluggers to overwhelm her.

Glory indeed.

slava
Specs:
Displacement:     14,415 long tons (14,646 t) normally
15,275 long tons (15,520 t) full load
Length:     397 ft 3 in (121.1 m)
Beam:     76 ft 1 in (23.2 m)
Draft:     29 ft 2 in (8.9 m)
Installed power:     15,800 ihp (11,800 kW)
Propulsion:     2 shafts, 2 vertical triple-expansion steam engines
20 water-tube boilers
Speed:     17.5 knots (32.4 km/h; 20.1 mph)
Range:     2,590 nautical miles (4,800 km; 2,980 mi) at a speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement:     846
Armament:     2 × 2 – 12-inch (305 mm) guns
6 × 2 – 6-inch (152 mm) guns
20 × 1 – 75-millimeter (3.0 in) guns
4 × 1 – 47-millimeter (1.9 in) saluting guns
4 × 1 – 15-inch (381 mm) torpedo tubes
Armor:     Krupp armor
Waterline belt: 145–194 mm (5.7–7.6 in)
Deck: 25.4–51 mm (1–2 in)
Turrets: 254 mm (10.0 in)
Barbettes: 178–229 mm (7–9 in)
Conning tower: 203 mm (8.0 in)

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