Russian armoured cruiser Dmitrii Donskoi
Dmitrii Donskoi was an armoured cruiser built for the Imperial Russian Navy in the early 1880s. She was designed as a commerce raider and equipped with a full suite of sails to economize on coal consumption. The ship spent the bulk of her career abroad, either in the Far East
Far East
The Far East is an English term mostly describing East Asia and Southeast Asia, with South Asia sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons.The term came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 19th century,...

 or in the Mediterranean. Dmitrii Donskoi was assigned to the Second Pacific Squadron after the Japanese destroyed the Russian ships deployed in the Far East during the early stages of the Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

 of 1904–05. The squadron was intercepted by the Japanese fleet in May 1905 in the Battle of Tsushima
Battle of Tsushima
The Battle of Tsushima , commonly known as the “Sea of Japan Naval Battle” in Japan and the “Battle of Tsushima Strait”, was the major naval battle fought between Russia and Japan during the Russo-Japanese War...

 after a lengthy voyage from the Baltic
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

. The cruiser was not seriously damaged during the initial fighting and tried to continue on to Vladivostok
The city is located in the southern extremity of Muravyov-Amursky Peninsula, which is about 30 km long and approximately 12 km wide.The highest point is Mount Kholodilnik, the height of which is 257 m...

 after the first day's fighting. She was spotted by several groups of Japanese warships the following day and was badly damaged in the resulting combat. Her captain
Captain (nautical)
A sea captain is a licensed mariner in ultimate command of the vessel. The captain is responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including cargo operations, navigation, crew management and ensuring that the vessel complies with local and international laws, as well as company and flag...

 ordered the crew ashore off Ulleungdo
Ulleungdo is a South Korean island in the Sea of Japan . Formerly known as Dagelet to the Europeans, Ulleungdo is about 120 km east of the Korean Peninsula...

 Island and had Dmitrii Donskoi scuttled
Scuttling is the act of deliberately sinking a ship by allowing water to flow into the hull.This can be achieved in several ways—valves or hatches can be opened to the sea, or holes may be ripped into the hull with brute force or with explosives...


Design and description

Dmitrii Donskoi was classified as a semi-armored frigate and was an improved version of her half-sister
Sister ship
A sister ship is a ship of the same class as, or of virtually identical design to, another ship. Such vessels share a near-identical hull and superstructure layout, similar displacement, and roughly comparable features and equipment...

 . The ship was designed with long endurance and high speed to facilitate her role as a commerce raider. She was laid out as a central battery ironclad with her armament concentrated amidships. The iron-hulled ship was fitted with a ram
Naval ram
A naval ram was a weapon carried by varied types of ships, dating back to antiquity. The weapon consisted of an underwater prolongation of the bow of the ship to form an armoured beak, usually between six and twelve feet in length...

 and was sheathed in wood and copper to reduce fouling
Biofouling or biological fouling is the undesirable accumulation of microorganisms, plants, algae, or animals on wetted structures.-Impact:...

. Her crew numbered approximately 550 officers and men.

The ship was 93.4 metre long overall
Overall length
The overall length of an ammunition cartridge is a measurement from the base of the brass shell casing to the tip of the bullet, seated into the brass casing....

. She had a beam
Beam (nautical)
The beam of a ship is its width at the widest point. Generally speaking, the wider the beam of a ship , the more initial stability it has, at expense of reserve stability in the event of a capsize, where more energy is required to right the vessel from its inverted position...

 of 17.7 metre and a draught
Draft (hull)
The draft of a ship's hull is the vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull , with the thickness of the hull included; in the case of not being included the draft outline would be obtained...

 of 7.8 metre. The ship displaced 5593 long tons (5,682.8 MT) at deep load. Dmitrii Donskoi had two three-cylinder compound steam engines driving a single propeller shaft. Steam was provided by eight cylindrical boiler
Boiler (steam generator)
A boiler or steam generator is a device used to create steam by applying heat energy to water. Although the definitions are somewhat flexible, it can be said that older steam generators were commonly termed boilers and worked at low to medium pressure but, at pressures above this, it is more...

s. The engines were designed to produce 7000 ihp, but produced 6609 ihp during sea trial
Sea trial
A sea trial is the testing phase of a watercraft . It is also referred to as a "shakedown cruise" by many naval personnel. It is usually the last phase of construction and takes place on open water, and can last from a few hours to many days.Sea trials are conducted to measure a vessel’s...

s which gave the ship a maximum speed around 16.5 knots (9 m/s). The ship normally carried 900 long tons (914.4 t) of coal which gave her an economical range of 7000 nautical miles (12,964 km) at a speed of 10 knots (5.4 m/s), but she is known to have loaded 1625 LT in May 1889. She was ship rigged with three masts and had a total sail area of 26000 square feet (2,415.5 m²). To reduce drag
Drag (physics)
In fluid dynamics, drag refers to forces which act on a solid object in the direction of the relative fluid flow velocity...

 while under sail, her funnel
Funnel (ship)
A funnel is the smokestack or chimney on a ship used to expel boiler steam and smoke or engine exhaust. They can also be known in as stacks.-Purpose:...

s were retractable. The highest speed that she made solely under sail was 10.5 knots (5.7 m/s).

Dmitrii Donskoi was armed with two 30-calibre
Caliber (artillery)
In artillery, caliber or calibredifference in British English and American English spelling is the internal diameter of a gun barrel, or by extension a relative measure of the length....

 8 inches (20 cm) Model 1877 guns, on sponson
Sponsons are projections from the sides of a watercraft, for protection, stability, or the mounting of equipment such as armaments or lifeboats, etc...

s on the upper deck between the funnels. The fourteen 28-calibre Model 1877 6 inches (15 cm) guns were mounted in casemates on the main deck. Anti-torpedo boat
Torpedo boat
A torpedo boat is a relatively small and fast naval vessel designed to carry torpedoes into battle. The first designs rammed enemy ships with explosive spar torpedoes, and later designs launched self-propelled Whitehead torpedoes. They were created to counter battleships and other large, slow and...

 defence was provided by a number of nine-pounder (42 mm (1.7 in)), four-pounder (34 mm (1.3 in)) and 37 mm (1.5 in) five-barreled revolver Hotchkiss gun
Hotchkiss gun
The Hotchkiss gun can refer to different products of the Hotchkiss arms company starting in the late 19th century. It usually refers to the 1.65-inch light mountain gun; there was also a 3-inch Hotchkiss gun...

s.Sources disagree on the numbers of each weapon at any time. The ship was also equipped with four above-water 15 inches (38 cm) torpedo tube
Torpedo tube
A torpedo tube is a device for launching torpedoes. There are two main types of torpedo tube: underwater tubes fitted to submarines and some surface ships, and deck-mounted units installed aboard surface vessels...


The ship's waterline
The term "waterline" generally refers to the line where the hull of a ship meets the water surface. It is also the name of a special marking, also known as the national Load Line or Plimsoll Line, to be positioned amidships, that indicates the draft of the ship and the legal limit to which a ship...

Belt armor
Belt armor is a layer of heavy metal armor plated on to or within outer hulls of warships, typically on battleships, battlecruisers and cruisers, and on aircraft carriers converted from those types of ships....

 was composed of compound armour
Compound armour
Compound armour was a type of armour used on warships in the 1880s. By the end of the decade it had been rendered obsolete by nickel-steel armour.-Prior armours:...

 and extended the full length of the ship. It was six inches thick amidships, but reduced to 4.5 inches (11 cm) at the ship's ends. It extended 2 foot (0.6096 m) above the waterline and 5 feet (1.5 m) below. Transverse bulkheads 3–4 in (7.6–10.2 ) thick protected the guns in the battery from raking fire
Raking fire
In naval warfare, raking fire is fire directed parallel to the long axis of an enemy ship. Although each shot is directed against a smaller target profile than by shooting broadside and thus more likely to miss the target ship to one side or the other, an individual cannon shot that hits will pass...

. The sponsons of the 8-inch guns were equally thick. The protective deck
Deck (ship)
A deck is a permanent covering over a compartment or a hull of a ship. On a boat or ship, the primary deck is the horizontal structure which forms the 'roof' for the hull, which both strengthens the hull and serves as the primary working surface...

 was 0.5 inches (13 mm) thick.


Construction began on Dmitrii Donskoi on 22 September 1880All dates used in this article are New Style
Old Style and New Style dates
Old Style and New Style are used in English language historical studies either to indicate that the start of the Julian year has been adjusted to start on 1 January even though documents written at the time use a different start of year ; or to indicate that a date conforms to the Julian...

at the New Admiralty Shipyard
Admiralty Shipyard
The Admiralty Shipyard is one of the oldest and largest shipyards in Russia, located in Saint Petersburg. The shipyard's building ways can accommodate ships of up to , 250 meters in length and 35 meters in width...

 in St. Petersburg, although the formal keel-laying ceremony was not held until 21 May 1881. She was launched on 30 August 1882 and completed in early 1885. The ship's total cost was 3,421,468 ruble
The ruble or rouble is a unit of currency. Currently, the currency units of Belarus, Russia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria, and, in the past, the currency units of several other countries, notably countries influenced by Russia and the Soviet Union, are named rubles, though they all are...

s. The ship was named after Dmitry Donskoy, Grand Duke of Moscow.

She sailed to the Mediterranean on 8 August 1885 and remained there until she arrived at Port Said on 6 March 1887 en route to the Far East. Dmitrii Donskoi reached Nagasaki
is the capital and the largest city of Nagasaki Prefecture on the island of Kyushu in Japan. Nagasaki was founded by the Portuguese in the second half of the 16th century on the site of a small fishing village, formerly part of Nishisonogi District...

, Japan, on 19 May and remained in Japanese waters for several months. The ship arrived at Vladivostok on 20 July and accidentally grounded on 12 October whilst conducting torpedo practice. Only lightly damaged, she was refloated the following day. Dmitrii Donskoi wintered in Japan that year and made port visits to Chefoo and Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

 in February 1888. She was refitted in Yokohama before she began her return to the Baltic on 20 January 1889. The ship was inspected by Tsar Alexander III
Alexander III of Russia
Alexander Alexandrovich Romanov , historically remembered as Alexander III or Alexander the Peacemaker reigned as Emperor of Russia from until his death on .-Disposition:...

 after her arrival at Kronstadt
Kronstadt , also spelled Kronshtadt, Cronstadt |crown]]" and Stadt for "city"); is a municipal town in Kronshtadtsky District of the federal city of St. Petersburg, Russia, located on Kotlin Island, west of Saint Petersburg proper near the head of the Gulf of Finland. Population: It is also...

 on 12 June. She began a lengthy wikt:overhaul in preparation for her next foreign cruise shortly afterwards.

Dmitrii Donskoi began her second foreign cruise on 3 October 1891 when she sailed for the Mediterranean, visiting Brest, France
Brest, France
Brest is a city in the Finistère department in Brittany in northwestern France. Located in a sheltered position not far from the western tip of the Breton peninsula, and the western extremity of metropolitan France, Brest is an important harbour and the second French military port after Toulon...

 en route. She was reclassified as a cruiser of the first rank on 13 February 1892 and remained in the Mediterranean for another month or so. The ship reached Vladivostok on 29 June, stopping at Aden
Aden is a seaport city in Yemen, located by the eastern approach to the Red Sea , some 170 kilometres east of Bab-el-Mandeb. Its population is approximately 800,000. Aden's ancient, natural harbour lies in the crater of an extinct volcano which now forms a peninsula, joined to the mainland by a...

, Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, and Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

 en route. Dmitrii Donskoi served as the flagship
A flagship is a vessel used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships, reflecting the custom of its commander, characteristically a flag officer, flying a distinguishing flag...

 of Rear Admiral
Rear Admiral
Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. It is generally regarded as the lowest of the "admiral" ranks, which are also sometimes referred to as "flag officers" or "flag ranks"...

 Tirtov several times during the year. She spent the winter in Yokosuka and Nagasaki before she sailed in early 1893 to America for a goodwill visit to mark the 400 anniversary of America's discovery. In Algiers in March, the ship picked up Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich of Russia
Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich of Russia
Grand Duke Alexander Mihailovich of Russia, Александр Михайлович Aleksandr Mihailovits was a dynast of the Russian Empire, a naval officer, an author, explorer, the brother-in-law of Emperor Nicholas II, and an advisor of the said Emperor.-Biography: Alexander was born the son of Grand Duke...

 and became flagship of Rear Admiral Kaznakov who commanded all the Russian ships at the exhibition. Dmitrii Donskoi reached New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 on 25 April and participated in the Presidential Review two days later. She made port visits to Philadelphia, Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 and Newport, Rhode Island
Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is a city on Aquidneck Island in Newport County, Rhode Island, United States, about south of Providence. Known as a New England summer resort and for the famous Newport Mansions, it is the home of Salve Regina University and Naval Station Newport which houses the United States Naval War...

 before she arrived back at Kronstadt in early September.

During the ship's lengthy 1893–95 refit, she was rearmed with six 45-calibre six-inch guns, ten 45-calibre 4.7 inches (11.9 cm) guns, and six 47 millimetres (1.9 in) guns. Her boilers may have been replaced at this time and her sailing rig was replaced by three pole masts. Wilgelm Vitgeft
Wilgelm Vitgeft
Wilgelm Karlovich Vitgeft , sometimes written Wilhelm and Withöft was an admiral in the Imperial Russian Navy, noted for his service in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905.-Biography:...

 was appointed as the ship's captain in late 1895 and Dmitrii Donskoi began her voyage to the Far East on 10 November. She was one of the Russian ships that occupied Port Arthur in March 1898 and participated in suppressing the Boxer Rebellion in mid-1900. The ship was ordered home in late 1901. Dmitrii Donskoi was refitted again upon her arrival and six of her 4.7-inch guns were replaced by six 75 millimetres (3 in) guns and two additional 47 mm guns.

After the completion of her refit, she escorted a group of seven destroyers and five torpedo boats to the Mediterranean in October 1903 where they were assigned to the Mediterranean Squadron under the command of Rear Admiral Virenius. The Naval Staff decided to reinforce the Pacific Squadron with the Mediterranean Squadron in December, but its departure was delayed by repairs to the battleship
A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships were larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. As the largest armed ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a...

  after it had grounded. When the Russo-Japanese War began in February, the squadron was in the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

 and was recalled to the Baltic lest it be caught and destroyed en route by the Japanese.

Dmitrii Donskoi was assigned to the cruiser force of the Second Pacific Squadron and departed Libau
Liepāja ; ), is a republican city in western Latvia, located on the Baltic Sea directly at 21°E. It is the largest city in the Kurzeme Region of Latvia, the third largest city in Latvia after Riga and Daugavpils and an important ice-free port...

 on 15 October 1904 bound for Vladivostok. The ship passed the Cape of Good Hope on 20 December. Whilst approaching the Strait of Tsushima on 27 May 1905, the Russian force was intercepted by the Japanese in the Battle of Tsushima. The cruiser was assigned to defend the transport ships at the rear of the Russian formation and was not seriously engaged during the day. She became separated from the rest of the fleet during the early evening and attempted to sail north to Vladivostok through the Japanese fleet. Dmitrii Donskoi was unsuccessfully attacked by Japanese destroyers and torpedo boats during the night. The following morning, she helped to transfer the badly wounded squadron commander, Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Vice admiral is a senior naval rank of a three-star flag officer, which is equivalent to lieutenant general in the other uniformed services. A vice admiral is typically senior to a rear admiral and junior to an admiral...

 Zinovy Rozhestvensky
Zinovy Rozhestvensky
Zinovy Petrovich Rozhestvensky was an admiral of the Imperial Russian Navy. He was in command of the Second Pacific Squadron in the Battle of Tsushima, during the Russo-Japanese War....

, from the destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

Buini to the destroyer Biedovi and then was forced to scuttle Buini when the destroyer's machinery broke down. The destroyer's crew as well as some 205 survivors from Oslyabya were transferred to the cruiser before Buini was scuttled. As the ship sailed northward, she was spotted late in the day by several groups of Japanese ships and badly damaged in the ensuing combat. Captain Lebedev decided to run his ship aground on Ulleungdo Island, but the ship anchored instead and all of the men aboard were taken to the island. Roughly 60 men of the ship's crew had been killed and another 120 wounded during the fighting. The next morning, 29 May, Dmitrii Donskoi was scuttled about a mile and a half (2.4 km) offshore, approximately at 37°30′N 130°57′W.
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