These four ships, the Sebastopol, Petropavlovsk, Poltava and Gangut, had the same four triple-turret layout as the Italian Dante Alighieri. Dreadnoughts of 23,000 tons displacement, 23 knots speed, the class was rather fast for their day, but the long completion times made the class obsolete even as they entered service. Carrying each twelve 12-inch guns and sixteen 4.7-inch guns, the twelve 12-in. guns were mounted in four turrets, one forward, one abaft, and the two others so as to give a broadside fire of 12 guns. This disposition of the main armament was unique, and facilitated identification from the air. Of original Italian design, "October Revolution" and "Sevastopol" were modified to include Russian ideas concerning armoring, ice breaking bows, and other features.
In common with many other innovations in naval design, the system of triple mounting for heavy guns was first introduced by the Italians in the Dante Alighieri, laid down in 1909. By taking the bold step of disposing the main armament in triple turrets, Colonel Cuniberti was able to mount a battery of twelve 12-inch guns, associated with a powerful quick-firing armament, in a ship of only 19,500 tons, well protected over the vitals, with an adequate coal capacity, and possessing the remarkable speed of 23 knots. Had the conventional twin mounting been retained, it would not, he estimated, have been possible to arm the ship with more than ten 12-inch guns, and even then less weight and space would have been left over for protection, machinery, &c. So substantial a gain went far to offset the objections - real or imaginary - which had previously militated against the grouping of more than two heavy guns in one position. In the same year the triple turret was adopted by Russia for the four battleships of the " Gangut" class, in the designing of which Colonel Cuniberti had a large share.
The difficulties that attend the creation of the new Navy of Russia had not been overcome by 1911. On the naval question the Duma was split into fractions, but generally its attitude towards the Admiralty was unfriendly, and it was supported by a large section of the press. It was contended that the sums allotted in 1908 and 1909 to the building of the four battleships of the Gangut class had not been rightly expended, and the official explanations were not regarded as satisfactory. The total sum was £2,050,000, of which £306,000 had gone to the Obuchoff Works for ordnance - the remainder of the vote for that purpose being unexpended; £996,000 to the Admiralty yard; £320,000 to the Ishora yard; £202,500 to the Obuchoff Works (for shipbuilding), and £20,000 to Messrs. Blohm and Voss, of Hamburg, for the plans for a battleship.
The Duma considered that the money had not been devoted to the objects intended, and that a large proportion of it had been employed for other purposes and on capital account. The attitude of the press may be understood from the fact that the Kotlin, which is a paper subventioned by the Russian Admiralty, in commenting on the circumstances, remarked that the irregularities rendered exceedingly difficult the voting of money for shipbuilding by the Duma. The situation became the more strained owing to statements circulated as to the supposed inferiority of the design of the new ships, of which it was said that they would be out of date before they were completed, while it was freely alleged that for the sum to be expended in Russia on four battleships, six of the same type could be built in England and five in countries of the Continent.
Possibly some of the adverse criticisms passed upon the design were based upon misapprehension and imperfect information concerning the Gangut class. An important fact affecting the naval situation in the Baltic, of which little public mention had been made, was that the Russian fleet in those waters was augmented by the addition of eight new dreadnoughts of great size and power, which were nearing completion and began to go into commission during 1915. They were launched between June and October, 1911, and work upon them having been accelerated, they entered commission before many months passed.
Gangut was laid down 3.06.1909, at the dock of the New Admiralty in St. Petersburg. The battle of Gangut (also known as Hangö or Bengstörfjärd) was the significant Russian naval victory during the Great Northern War, won by the Russian galley fleet. 26 July 1714 the vanguard of the Russian galley fleet passed by Wattrang's ships still lying off the coast and blocked Ehrenskold's unit in the skerries west of Gangut. The victory at the Battle of Gangut, fought June 27, 1714, allowed the Russian galley fleet to support the Russian army in Finland.
On 16 May 1911 he was enrolled in the lists of vessels BF. Launched 24.09.1911, Gangut came into operation 21.10.1914. From October 1918 to 4.05.1925 he was in Petrograd naval port on the long-term storage. On 21/04/1921 the ship became a part of the BF. The ship was renovated from 18/04/1925 till 20/07/1926, and upgrading from 12.10.1931 till 4.08.1934. During modernization the bridge was enlarged, the forward stack trunked back at a sharp angle, a heavy foremast fitted, and heavy cranse added to the aft superstructure. On 24/07/1954, the ship was reclassified as a training vessel. On 17/02/1956 the ship was stricken ["expelled"] from the lists of ships of the Navy and commissioned in OFI for dismantling and sale. The ship was transfered on 26/03/1956 city and broken up ["disbanded"] in 1956-1957 on the basis of the Glavvtorchermeta in Leningrad.
Petropavlovsk (later Marat) was laid down 3.06.1909, at the Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg, and on 16.05.1911 enrolled in the lists of vessels of the BF. Launched 27.08.1911, he came into operation 20.12.1914. The ship was renovated and upgraded in 1928-1931. On 23.09.1941, at the military harbor of Kronstadt, the ship suffered a direct hit from 250-pound bomb which destroyed the nose of the LC on the 52nd rib. The ship sat on the harbor floor at a depth 11 m, and was later raised and subsequently used as a stationary receiving ship. On 25.09.1951 the ship was reclassified to non-self-training ship. On 4.09.1953 the ship was expelled from the lists of ships of the Navy and commissioned in OFI for dismantling and sale.
Sebastopol was originally stationed in the Baltic, and transfered to the Black Sea in 1930.
Poltava was laid up in 1918, and caught fire in 1919. Renamed Mikhail Frunze, shortened to Frunze, the ship caught fire again in 1922, and was beached, though a total loss. The hull was refloated, and used as an experimental hulk. In the 1933, plans were drawn up to convert the hulk into a modern battlecruiser. Two variants were proposed, Version A having all the boiler uptakes trunked into one funnel. Frunze was later converted into a barracks ship, and eventually scuttled as a blockship in 1941. The hulk was raised in 1944, but not broken up until 1956.
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