UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Imperial Russian Navy

The Church of Rome fell for its heresy; the gates of the second Rome, Constantinople, were hewn down by the axes of the infidel Turks; but the Church of Moscow, the Church of the New Rome, shines brighter than the sun in the whole universe... Two Romes are fallen, but the third stands fast; a fourth there cannot be.
Philotheos (Filofei) 1525

After the Russian-Japanese war of 1904-1905, Russia gradually recovered from the shock of Tsushima. After the Russo-Japanese war came the creation on 7 April, 1906, of the Sea General Staff provided the organs of combat (operational) control of forces VMF. In this chapter of Russian fleet stood such well-known naval commanders as Peter 1, P.V.Chichagov, IR Of grigorovich, N.G.Kuznetsov, S.G.Gorshkov.

The Baltic Fleet had virtually ceased to exist, and Russia started to replenish it with the newly built ships. Some of them were based on voluntary donations. Unfortunately, even without taking into account the experience of war, large series were put into operation, such as destroyers ordered as in France and Germany, and Russia. In 1908 the cruiser "Admiral Makarov" came into operation, built in France on the prea-war cruiser "Bayan" project. It was followed by a similar "Bayan" and "Pallas", built in Russia and commissioned in 1911. In England the armored cruiser "Rurik" was built. In August 1908 it raised the St. Andrew's flag. After numerous revisions, "Rurik" came into operation in July 1909, and by the plans of "Rurik" two sister ships were built in Russia.

Based on the lessons of the Russian-Japanese War, the British authorities radically revised the role of artillery battleships in battle, abandoning the intermediate caliber in favor of increasing the number of guns of the main caliber. The firm "Vickers" almost simultaneously with "Rurik" - literally on a nearby slipway - laid down and built in record time (11 months) a new type of battleship. Almost the same dimentions 160x25 m ("Rurik» - 161x23 m), 10 305-mm guns were mounted in five turrets, against the 4 254-mm and 8 203-mm guns on the "Rurik". Thus was born a new type of ship - and a name that became a household word for all subsequent in all countries, "Dreadnought".

In Russia a pause held for more than a year, determining what battleships to build, how much and for what theaters of war. The Navy approached this issue, by the way, quite thoughtfully, comprehensively, starting with the complete modernization of shipbuilding industry, to prepare the ground for the construction of large ships.

In 1907 plans were made for the future conduct of the war in the Baltic and Black Sea theaters. The compilation of these plans involved the Naval General Staff. The first plan was prepared in 1908, with potential opponents in the Baltic Sea being Germany and Sweden. It was assumed that Germany would make a landing on the coast of the Gulf of Finland, jointly with the Swedish army offensive in St. Petersburg, and Sweden would seek to defeat Finland by the landing and assault on Vyborg, and then to St. Petersburg. This this plan included: 1. Creating the position of the mine to the south and north of the island of Hogland; 2. Reconnaissance cruisers on the line Dago-Åland Islands; 3. Attack destroyers concentrated in Sveaborg and Kotka; and 4. The decisive battle at Hogland mine position.

In 1911, at the urging of I.O.Essena the mine plan included a second position on the line for Nargen-Cape Porkkala, which was supposed to give a rebuff to the enemy, not "giving it the character of a clash decisive battle." In terms of 1912 emphasis was placed on the already-Nargen Porkkala Udsky position that retrofit artillery and was named the Central mine and artillery positions. The main base of the fleet was now becoming not Kronstadt, but Revel, which was built sea fortress and naval port of Emperor Peter the Great. Before the end of its construction, it was to be used at Helsingfors.

The plan of operations in the Black Sea supposed "conservation control of the sea", the destruction of the Turkish fleet and the blocking of the Straits from the north. It was further planned landing near the Bosphorus. The Plan of 1911 was adjusted in 1912, taking into account the planned strengthening of the Turkish Navy ordered battleships [lit, ships of the line] in England, as well as the possible entry of Turkey into the war in a coalition with other countries (Germany, Romania, Austria-Hungary).

There was another plan for the future - the humiliation of Tsushima had to be avenged. A rematch was scheduled for 1923.

One of the biggest mistakes made by the Russian military and political leadership at the beginning of the 20th century in preparation for the great European war was the program for building the navy. During the war against Japan in 1904-05, the Russian fleet suffered a series of crushing defeats and lost many warships. Such a painful blow later led to steps that cannot be called rational and can be considered rather a compensatory reaction of a psychological nature. It is absolutely clear that the Russian Empire has never in its entire history been a great maritime power and had not the slightest chance of becoming one.

But under these plans and was developed shipbuilding program and define the necessary types of ships. Initially, there was Little shipbuilding program years 1908-1912. For the Baltic Fleet the Navy had to build 4 battleships, 3 PA and the mother ship for submarines for the Black Sea Fleet - 14 destroyers and three submarines. But in 1911, due to a sharp increase in the Turkish fleet to the Black Sea Fleet in the program was additionally included the construction of three battleships, nine destroyers and 6 submarines.

Even with a much more developed science and industry, with a more efficient economy, the geography of the country itself would not be able to achieve this. All shipbuilding capacities and large ports were concentrated on two seas - the Baltic and Black, which were internal. The presence of a strong navy both on that and on the other was relevant only in relation to the XVIII century and was dictated by temporary necessity. After the victories over Sweden and Turkey and the consolidation of its position on the Baltic and Black Sea coasts, a further increase in naval forces there lost all meaning for Russia.

In the event of the outbreak of war, in order to access ocean communications, ships needed to at least break through either the Danish Straits or the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, which was an extremely difficult and risky task if there was opposition from the enemy. And even if such an enterprise were successful, Further, the squadrons would have to operate at a great distance from their bases in the absence of alternative sources of supply - the Russian Empire did not have overseas colonies and strongholds in the oceans. Consequently, Russia did not have any reason to build heavy and expensive battleships, and to ensure the protection of its own shores, the forces of the small fleet in the form of mine and torpedo ships of various classes, as well as coastal artillery ships, were suitable.

In 1912, a program of hasty buldup of the fleet began. The Navy further ordered the Baltic Fleet 4 battlecruises [lit: line cruisers], 4 light cruisers, 36 destroyers and 12 submarines for the Black Sea Fleet battleship -1, 4 light cruisers, eight destroyers and 6 submarines. In addition, the Siberian flotilla in Germany ordered 2 small class cruiser "Admiral Nevel." The decision was not entirely correct. With the outbreak of war in 1914, the two cruisers were requisitioned by the Germans, completed and put into operation under the names "Elbing" and "Pilau".

For the construction of battleships, as the most expensive ships that require huge financial resources and support of related industries, a plan was developed with a goal of 1931. This plan included lifetimes for battleships and battle cruisers of 4 years in construction, 12 years in the active fleet and 6 years in the reserve squadron. The plan was supposed to enter service: in 1914, 4 battleships, 1916 - 4 battlecruisers, 1918 - 4 battleships, 1920 - 4 battleships, 1922 - 4 battlecruisers, 1924 - 4 battleships, 1926 - 4 battleships, 1928 - 4 battlecruisers, 1930 - 4 battleships. It was also supposed to gradually withdraw from the Navy scrapped ships: in 1926 - four battleships, 1928 - 4 battlecruisers, 1930 - 4 battleships. When the then existing rate of development of Russian industry was fully able to master this program in 1931, and as a result have a fleet of 16 battleships and 8 battleships, which would make it one of the leading maritime nations.

Nevertheless, the presence of a “large fleet” gave some prestige, and only for the sake of this the military-political leadership of the country decided to implement a monstrously expensive and load huge shipbuilding program exactly at a time when the same funds were vital for modernization Economics and restructuring of the army. As part of the program, seven battleships and four battlecruisers were laid in the shipyards of St. Petersburg and Nikolaev (battlecruisers were never completed either before the war or during it). This is not counting the destroyers, submarines and ships of other classes.

The size of expenses is eloquently indicated by the fact that in the period from 1910 to 1915, appropriations for the army and navy amounted to approximately equal values in absolute terms, but at the same time, the budget growth of the Ministry of the Sea was 1.5 times higher than the budget growth of the Ministry of War. One can also make such a comparison: in 1912, 7.6 million rubles were allocated from the budget for the development of higher educational institutions of the Russian Empire. The cost of building just one battle cruiser of the Izmail type, laid down in the same year, amounted to 52 million rubles, and the cost of one battleship of the Sevastopol type was 37 million rubles.

Based on these figures, it is easy to imagine how enormous benefit could be renounced from the “Enhanced Shipbuilding Program for 1911-15”, adopted almost exclusively under the influence of unhealthy imperial ambitions and considerations of prestige. After all, the money allocated for the creation of a linear fleet was received by reducing costs not only for education and culture, but also the reorganization of industrial enterprises, the replenishment of military stocks, the production of new weapons and ammunition for the ground forces. Therefore, it would not be an exaggeration to say that it was the Russian naval program that became one of the causes of the most severe supply and weapon crisis that befell the army during the war.

To this, one more stroke should be added: the battleships built with such labor and costs during the war turned out to be completely predictably unnecessary, they did not find use and all the time of the fighting (with rare exceptions) stood without any use at the berth walls of their bases.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 23-01-2020 17:46:37 ZULU