Russian battleship Petropavlovsk (1894)

For other ships with the same name, see Petropavlovsk (ship).
Petropavlovsk in Kronstadt, 1899
Russian Empire
Name: Petropavlosk
Namesake: Battle of Petropavlovsk
Builder: Galerniy Yard, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Laid down: 19 May 1892[Note 1]
Launched: 1 November 1894
In service: 1899
Fate: Sunk by mine off Port Arthur, 13 April 1904 (31 March O.S.)
General characteristics
Class and type: Petropavlovsk-class pre-dreadnought battleship
Displacement: 11,842 long tons (12,032 t)
Length: 376 ft (115 m)
Beam: 70 ft (21 m)
Draft: 28 ft 3 in (8.61 m)
Installed power:
  • 10,600 shp (7,900 kW)
  • 16 cylindrical coal-fired boilers
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)
Range: 3,750 nmi (6,940 km; 4,320 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 662
  • 2 × twin 12 in (305 mm) guns
  • 4 × twin, 4 × single 6 in (152 mm) guns
  • 10 × single 47 mm (1.9 in) guns
  • 28 × single 37 mm (1.5 in) guns
  • 4 × 15-inch (381 mm) above-water torpedo tubes
  • 2 × 18-inch (457 mm) submerged torpedo tubes
  • Nickel steel Armor
  • Belt: 8–12 in (203–305 mm)
  • Turrets: 10 in (254 mm)
  • Secondary turrets: 5 in (127 mm)
  • Conning tower: 9 in (229 mm)
  • Deck: 3 in (76 mm)

Petropavlovsk (Петропавловск) was the lead ship of the Petropavlovsk class of pre-dreadnought battleships built for the Imperial Russian Navy. She displaced 11,854 long tons (12,044 t) at full load and was 369 feet (112.5 m) long overall, and mounted a main battery of four 12-inch (305 mm) guns in two twin turrets. Petropavlovsk participated in the Boxer Rebellion, and during the Russo-Japanese War was the flagship of the First Pacific Squadron, taking part in battles against the Imperial Japanese Navy. On 13 April 1904, the battleship was sunk after striking two mines near Port Arthur. 652 men and 27 officers died, including the Vice Admiral Stepan Makarov and renowned war artist Vasily Vereshchagin. The loss of Petropavlovsk and Makarov greatly hindered the Russians in the war.


The first design for Petropavlovsk and her sister ships of the Petropavlovsk class was approved in January 1891. She was to be an improved version of the battleship Imperator Nikolai I, but with most of her armament in barbettes, including four 12-inch (305 mm) guns. The class was designed with a displacement of 10,960 long tons (11,136 t) at full load.[1] She had a full waterline belt, and the upper hull featured a tumblehome. Imperator Nikolai I was chosen as a starting point for the design because of her good seakeeping and seaworthiness. Some characteristics were copied from the French battleship Brennus and the American Indiana-class battleships, such as the flush-deck hull and Brennus' high freeboard.[2]

Following a redesign of the class, Petropavlovsk ceased to resemble Imperator Nikolai I. The armor plating was changed before construction, and plans for the armament were modified while the ship was being built. The barbettes were replaced with turrets, including wing turrets for some of the secondary 6-inch (152 mm) guns modeled after those on Brennus, with electric hoists.[3] The propulsion was based on the machinery on Georgii Pobedonosets.[1] Petropavlovsk had nickel-steel armor imported from the United States.[4]


Petropavlovsk displaced 11,842 long tons (12,032 t) and was 376 feet (114.6 m) long overall. She had a beam of 70 feet (21.3 m) and a maximum draft of 28 feet 3 inches (8.6 m). She was powered by 16 cylindrical boilers with coal-burning furnaces, and had bunkers for 1,050 long tons (1,070 t) of coal. This gave her a range of 3,750 nautical miles (6,940 km) at a cruising speed of 10 knots (19 km/h).[5] She had a crew of 662.[6]

The ship's main armament was a battery of four 12-inch (305 mm) guns in two twin turrets. Her secondary armament was a battery of 12 6-inch (152 mm) guns. She had also 10 47-millimeter (1.9 in) guns, 28 37-millimeter (1.5 in) anti-torpedo boat guns, and six 14-inch (356 mm) torpedo tubes, four of which were submerged.[7]

Service history

Early years

In October 1897 Petropavlovsk sailed from Saint Petersburg to Kronstadt to be outfitted. In 1898 the guns were fitted; later the battleship moved to Liepāja, returning to Kronstadt in 1899. On 5 October 1899 Petropavlovsk was transferred to the Pacific Fleet. Aleksandr Kolchak, who was the chief of the watch on aboard, was to have conducted hydrology experiments in the northern Pacific ocean. However, when the ship arrived in the Mediterranean, Kolchak accepted a position with Eduard Toll's expedition and left the vessel. Petropavlovsk reached Port Arthur on 28 April 1900, becoming the flagship of Vice Admiral Skrydlov and the Pacific Squadron. In 1900 the ship took part in the suppression of the Boxer Rebellion in China. In October 1902 Rear Admiral Oskar Victorovich Stark took command of the squadron (naval)| and raised his flag on Petropavlovsk.[8]

Russo-Japanese War

A Japanese depiction of the sinking of Petropavlovsk. The original caption reads: "Picture of the Eighth Attack on Port Arthur. The Flagship of Russia Was Destroyed by the Torpedo of Our Navy and Admiral Makaroff Drowned."

In early February 1904 the Japanese Navy launched a surprise attack on the Russian fleet at Port Arthur. The squadron was attacked by a flotilla of Japanese torpedo boat destroyers.[9] The Russians were not prepared for the attack and confusion ran rampant throughout the harbor's interior.[10] Petropavlovsk escaped damage during the torpedo attack, but was lightly damaged in an engagement the next day against the Japanese fleet (she was hit by one 6-inch and two 12-inch shells), killing one and wounding four. Petropavlovsk fired twenty 12-inch and sixty-eight 6-inch shells at the Japanese battleships, but none hit. As a result of the damage incurred in the attack by Tsesarevich and the subsequent lengthy repair-time, Makarov was compelled to choose as his flagship Petropavlovsk against his better judgement (he viewed the former as sturdier than the latter).[11][12]


The destruction of Petropavlovsk

Having failed to blockade or bottle up the Russian squadron at Port Arthur by sinking blockships[13] in the harbor's channel, the Japanese under Admiral Togo formulated a new plan. Ships were to mine the entrance from the harbor and then lure the Russians into the minefield in the hopes of sinking a number of Russian warships. Under cover of four detachments of torpedo boat destroyers, the minelayer Koru-Maru began to lay mines near the entrance to Port Arthur on the night of 31 March. The Japanese were observed by Admiral Makarov, who believed that they were Russian destroyers whom he had ordered to patrol that area.[14]

On 13 April 1904 (31 March old style), Strashnii, a Russian destroyer, was intercepted by Japanese destroyers.[15][12] A sea battle erupted between the opposing destroyers. Makarov immediately dispatched the cruiser Bayan to assist Strashnii. After Bayan had informed on presence of enemy cruisers on the site, Makarov decided to lead main forces in order to seek battle with the surrounding enemy warships and rescue more survivors from Strashnii.[16] He led two battleships (Petropavlovsk and Poltava), four cruisers and a group of destroyers into the Yellow Sea.[16]

However, the Japanese retreated beyond Port Arthur's gunfire support range, and had been reinforced by main forces of six battleships. At 0850, Makarov turned around to head back to the harbor and join with three other battleships that had just left.[16] After the squadron had united and turned back towards the enemy, about two miles from the shore, on 9.42 Petropavlosk detonated a Japanese-laid mine on her port side.[16] Petropavlovsk sank, taking 27 officers and 652 men, including Admiral Makarov and war artist Vasily Vereshchagin with her.[17][18] A monument was constructed in Saint Petersburg in 1913 to honor Stephan Makarov after Japanese divers identified his remains inside the wreck of Petropavlovsk and gave him a burial at sea.[17]


  1. All dates used in this article are New Style


  1. 1 2 McLaughlin, p. 85.
  2. Forczyk, pp. 15–16.
  3. Watts, p. 43.
  4. Forczyk, p. 16.
  5. McLaughlin, pp. 84–85.
  6. Watts, p. 44.
  7. Hore, p. 116.
  8. McLaughlin, p. 90.
  9. Grant, pp. 12, 15, 17, 42.
  10. Balakin, p. 24.
  11. Gribovskij, p. 49.
  12. 1 2 Balakin, p. 38.
  13. Grant, pp. 48–50.
  14. Balakin, pp. 33–36.
  15. Grant, p. 125.
  16. 1 2 3 4 Vinogradov, pp. 72-73.
  17. 1 2 Taras, p. 27.
  18. Balakin, p. 39.


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