Ship models in the Monaco Naval Museum: Russian Warships (Part 2)

The museum has a large collection of Russian warships that includes the following:

Pre-dreadnought Battleship Orel

Orel (Eagle) was the fourth of the five Borodino-class battleships that were built, and the only one of the four sent to the Far East to survive the Battle of Tsushima. She surrendered to superior Japanese forces on 28th May 1905, and after being rebuilt (her superstructure was reduced, her guns were replaced and re-positioned, and new boilers were fitted) she was commissioned into the Imperial Japanese Navy as the Iwami.

During the First World War she participated in the Siege of Tsingtau and served as the flagship of the Japanese squadron sent to Vladivostok in 1918 during the Japanese intervention in the Russian Civil War. In 1921 she became a training ship in 1921 and in accordance with the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty she was disarmed the following year. She was discarded in 1924.

Protected Cruiser Variag

Variag was an American-built protected cruiser that served with the Imperial Russian Navy at the beginning of the twentieth century. She was built by William Cramp and Sons, Philadelphia, laid down during October 1898, launched on 31st October 1899, and commissioned on 2nd January 1901.

After being commissioned Variag was sent to join the Imperial Russian Navy’s Far East Fleet, with the result that she took part in the Battle of Chemulpo Bay at the beginning of the Russo-Japanese War. After failing to escape from the superior Japanese force that opposed her, Variag was scuttled on the orders of her commanding officer, Captain (First Rank) Vsevolod Rudnev.

Variag was subsequently salvaged by the Japanese, who repaired and commissioned her into the Imperial Japanese Navy as light cruiser Soya. She was used mainly as a training ship, but when the First World War broke out she was sold back to the Russians, who restored her original name when she was recommissioned into the Imperial Russian Navy. Unfortunately she never returned to Russia.

On her return journey from Japan she went to Liverpool to be overhauled by Cammell Laird, and whilst she was there the October Revolution of 1917 took place. Siding with the Bolsheviks, the Variag‘s crew raised the Red Flag and refused to set sail for Russia. Fearing the spread of revolution, the British government acted, and on 8th December 1917 Variag was seized by a detachment of British soldiers and incorporated into the Royal Navy.

The ship proved to be a problem, and during February 1918, whilst under tow off the coast of Ireland, Variag ran aground. She was re-floated, but the damage was too great to warrant expensive repairs, and she was thereafter used as a hulk. She was sold to a German company for scrap in 1920, but ran aground again off the Scottish coast whilst being towed to Germany. In the end it was decided to scrap her en situ, and this took place from 1923 to 1925.

Cruiser Aurora

Aurora was one of three Pallada-class cruisers, built in St. Petersburg for service in the Pacific. She was built at the Admiralty Shipyard, St. Petersburg, and was laid down on 23rd May 1897, launched on 11th May 1900, and commissioned on 29th July 1903. After entering service she was sent to join the Imperial Russian Far East Fleet, but had only reached Djibouti, she was recalled to the Baltic. After a short refit she then joined the Russian 2nd Pacific Squadron under the command of Admiral Rozhestvensky.

All three ships of the Pallada-class took part in the Russo-Japanese War; one (Pallada) was sunk at the Battle of Tsushima, one (Diana) was interned in Saigon after the Battle of the Yellow Sea, and Aurora survived the Battle of Tsushima, only to end up being interned in the Philippines from 6th June 1905 until the end of the war.

Once the war with Japan was over, Aurora returned to the Baltic in 1906 and became a training ship, and over the next six years she visited a number of other countries, including Siam. Once First World War had broken out, Aurora began conduction operations against German targets in the Baltic. In 1915 she was rearmed with fourteen new 152 mm/6-inch guns, and at the end of the following year she entered the dockyard in Petrograd (formerly St. Petersburg) for a major overhaul. She was still there when the October Revolution of 1917 took place, and most of her crew sided with the Bolsheviks.

Aurora became famous on 25th October 1917 when – at 9.45 pm – she fired a blank shot from her forecastle gun. In popular history this is said to have signalled the start of the assault on the Winter Palace … but more recent research has indicated that this was purely coincidental and may have been the result of a drunken prank rather than a deliberate act!

During the summer of 1918, Aurora sailed to Kronstadt and was placed into reserve. She was recommissioned during the early 1920s, and again did service as a training ship. When the Germans invaded Russia in 1941, Aurora was in a very poor state, and her guns were removed and used in the defence of Leningrad. She was docked in Oranienbaum port, where she was repeatedly shelled and bombed, with the result that – on 30th September 1941 – she was sunk in the harbour. Aurora underwent extensive repairs from 1945 to 1947, after which she was permanently anchored on the River Neva in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) as a monument to the October Revolution. Ten years later she became a museum-ship, and she remains in this role today.

Battleship Marat

The Marat began life as the Petropavlovsk, the third of the four Gangut-class dreadnoughts built before and during the First World War for the Imperial Russian Navy. She was built at the Baltic Works, Saint Petersburg, laid down on 16th June 1909, launched on 22nd September 1911, and commissioned on 5th January 1915.

During the First World War she was used to defend the mouth of the Gulf of Finland from German attacks the Germans and to provide cover for minelaying operations. Petropavlovsk‘s crew joined the general mutiny of the Baltic Fleet in February 1917 and supported the Bolsheviks after the October Revolution of 1917. Under Bolshevik control she bombarded the mutinous garrison of Fort Krasnaya Gorka and supported operations mounted to counter the White Russians who were operating in the Gulf of Finland area in 1918–19. In 1921 – in the aftermath of the Kronstadt Rebellion – she was renamed Marat.

Because she was one of the few large, reasonably modern Soviet warships available, Marat was reconstructed from 1928 to 1931 to ensure that she was capable of continued front line service. During the Winter War with Finland, she took part in the bombardment of Finnish coastal artillery positions. Soon afterwards she was again in dockyard hands, this time to have her anti-aircraft armament enhanced.

During the opening months of the war with Germany, Marat provided gunfire support to Soviet troops trying to stop the German advance on Leningrad. On 23rd September 1941 she was sunk at her moorings when by two 1,000-kilogram/2,200lb bombs hit her just forward of her bridge structure. (One of these bombs is reputed to have been dropped by Stuka pilot Oberleutnant Hans-Ulrich Rudel of III./Sturzkampfgeschwader 2.) The bombs caused the forward magazine to explode, which almost totally destroyed the forward third of the ship and caused her to sink in 11m/36 ft of water.

Several month later Marat was re-floated and became a floating battery. She was never repaired, and in 1950 she was renamed Volkhov after the river of that name and began to be used as a stationary training ship. She was stricken in 1953 and scrapped soon afterwards.

Guided Missile Cruiser Slava

The Slava(Glory) was the name-ship of her class of three guided missile cruisers. They were originally designed and constructed for the Soviet Navy, and are currently operated by the Russian Navy.

Slava and her sister ships are heavily armed, and carry:

  • 16 (8 x 2) P-500 Bazalt (SS-N-12 Sandbox) anti-ship missiles
  • 64 (8 x 8) S-300F Fort (SA-N-6 Grumble) long-range surface-to-air missiles
  • 40 (2 × 20) OSA-M (SA-N-4 Gecko) SR SAM
  • 1 twin AK-130 130mm/L70 dual purpose gun mounting
  • 6 × 6 AK-630 CIWS (close-in weapons systems)
  • 2 × 12 RBU-6000 anti-submarine mortars
  • 10 (2 x 5) 533mm/21-inch torpedo tubes
  • 1 Kamov Ka-25 or Kamov Ka-27 Helicopter

Slava was built 61 Kommunar yard, in Nikolaev, laid down 1976, launched 1979, commissioned 1982, and renamed Moskva (Moscow) in 1995.

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