Saturday, August 6, 2011

Rurik (I)

Russian armoured cruiser built for the Imperial Russian Navy in 1895.

After her commissioning, the Rurik headed for the Russian Pacific Fleet based atVladivostok. Admiral Fyodor Dubasov, who commanded the Pacific Squadron, recommended various modifications to the ship after a short period of service, including reboilering and the removal of the ship's rigging.[1] The reboilering project never got off the ground, but the amount of rigging was cut down significantly.

When the Russo-Japanese War broke out in 1904, the Rurik and the other cruisers of the Pacific Squadron, the Rossia, Gromoboi, and Bogatyr, were all charged with seeking out and destroying Japanese merchant vessels in the Sea of Japan and along the coasts of the Japanese home islands. By August 1904, only one ship had been sunk and the Imperial Japanese Army had moved siege artillery close enough to shell the main Russian port in the Pacific, Port Arthur. The siege of Port Arthurkept most of the Russian naval vessels assigned to the Pacific Squadron inside the port, despite several failed attempts at breakout.

On 14 August, three of the four Vladivostok-based cruisers sortied towards Port Arthur (Bogatyr having received damage due to grounding[1]) in an attempt to assist in lifting the Japanese blockade. They were met by a squadron of Japanese warships commanded by Vice AdmiralKamimura Hikonojō in the Tsushima Strait between Korea and Japan, which resulted in the battle off Ulsan. The Japanese force had four modern armored cruisers, Iwate, Izumo, Tokiwa, and Azuma. Early in the engagement, Rurik (the rear ship of the Russian formation) was hit by Japanese fire three times in the stern, flooding her steering compartment so that she had to be steered with her engines. Her speed was decreased, splitting it from the rest of the Russian ships, further exposing her to Japanese fire, and her steering jammed to port. The Russian Admiral Karl Jessen attempted to provide cover for the ship, but was pushed back by the Japanese cruisers. As the Russian ships withdrew, the Rurik was set upon by several Japanese cruisers. Rather than surrender the ship to the Japanese, the senior surviving officer, one Lieutenant Ivanov, ordered the ship to be scuttled. The Japanese picked up about 625 survivors, the rest perishing in the engagement.

The remaining two Russian cruisers escaped back to Vladivostok.


This scratch built model in 1:250 scale from Igor Cherniak.