Russian battleship Sevastopol (1895)
Sevastopol was the last of three ships in the Petropavlovsk class of pre-dreadnought battleships built for the Imperial Russian Navy
Imperial Russian Navy
The Imperial Russian Navy refers to the Tsarist fleets prior to the February Revolution.-First Romanovs:Under Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich, construction of the first three-masted ship, actually built within Russia, was completed in 1636. It was built in Balakhna by Danish shipbuilders from Holstein...

 in the 1890s. Named for the siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

, the ship was commissioned into the First Pacific Squadron of the Russian Pacific Fleet and was stationed at Port Arthur, a Russian naval base acquired from China in 1898 as part of the Kwantung Leased Territory
Kwantung Leased Territory
The Kwantung Leased Territory was a territory in the southern part of the Liaodong Peninsula in Inner Manchuria that existed from 1898 to 1945. It was one of the numerous territorial concessions that the Empire of China was compelled to award to foreign countries at the end of the 19th century...

. One of the first ships to use Harvey nickel-steel armor and Popov radios, she displaced 11854 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 inches (30 cm) guns in two twin turrets. She was laid down in May 1892, launched on 1 June 1895 and completed in 1899. Her sea trials lasted until 1900.

Sevastopol saw service in 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. Slightly damaged during a surprise attack on Port Arthur in early February, the ship later participated in several attempts to break out from the besieged port. The most notable of these was the Battle of the Yellow Sea
Battle of the Yellow Sea
The Battle of the Yellow Sea was a major naval engagement of the Russo-Japanese War, fought on 10 August 1904. In the Russian Navy, it was referred to as the Battle of 10 August. The battle foiled an attempt by the Russian fleet at Port Arthur to break out and form up with counterparts from...

, where she was damaged by several shells but managed to make it back to port with the remnants of the Russian Fleet, leaving one crewman dead and 62 wounded. Immediately after the surrender of Port Arthur
Siege of Port Arthur
The Siege of Port Arthur , 1 August 1904 – 2 January 1905, the deep-water port and Russian naval base at the tip of the Liaotung Peninsula in Manchuria, was the longest and most violent land battle of the Russo-Japanese War....

, Sevastopol was 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...

 to prevent her capture by the Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy
The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1869 until 1947, when it was dissolved following Japan's constitutional renunciation of the use of force as a means of settling international disputes...

. The Japanese never raised her. The remains of the ship still lie outside the entrance to Port Arthur.


The first design for Sevastopol and her sister ship
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...

s of the Petropavlovsk class was approved in January 1891. She was to be an improved version of the battleship , but with most of her armament in barbettes, including four 12 inches (30 cm) guns. The class was designed with a displacement of 10960 LT (11,136 t) at full load. She had a full waterline belt
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....

, and the upper hull featured a tumblehome
In ship designing, the tumblehome is the narrowing of a ship's hull with greater distance above the water-line. Expressed more technically, it is present when the beam at the uppermost deck is less than the maximum beam of the vessel....

. Imperator Nikolai I was chosen as a starting point for the design because of her good seakeeping
Seakeeping ability is a measure of how well-suited a watercraft is to conditions when underway. A ship or boat which has good seakeeping ability is said to be very seaworthy and is able to operate effectively even in high sea states....

 and seaworthiness. Some characteristics were also copied from the and the American s, such as the flush-deck
Flush deck
In naval architecture, a flush deck refers to when the upper deck of a vessel extends unbroken from stem to stern. There is no raised forecastle or lowered quarterdeck. Ships of this type may be referred to as "flush deckers", although this is often taken as referring to a series of United States...

 hull and Brennus high freeboard
Freeboard (nautical)
In sailing and boating, freeboardmeans the distance from the waterline to the upper deck level, measured at the lowest point of sheer where water can enter the boat or ship...


Following a redesign of the class, Sevastopol 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 inches (15 cm) guns modeled after those on Brennus, with electric hoists. The propulsion was based on the machinery on Georgii Pobedonosets
Russian battleship Georgii Pobedonosets
The Georgii Pobedonosets was a pre-dreadnought battleship built for the Imperial Russian Navy, the fourth and final ship of the . She was, however, only a half-sister to the others as her armor scheme was different and she was built much later than the earlier ships...

. Sevastopol had Harvey nickel-steel
Harvey armor
Harvey armor was a type of steel armor developed in the early 1890s in which the front surfaces of the plates were case hardened. The method for doing this was known as the Harvey process....

 armor imported from the United States.


Sevastopol displaced 11854 long tons (12,044 t) and was 369 feet (112.5 m) long overall. 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 70 feet (21.3 m) and a mean draft
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 25 in 6 in (7.77 m). She was powered by 16 cylindrical coal-burning boilers
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...

, and could carry 1310 long tons (1,331 t) of coal. This gave her a range of 4000 nautical miles (7,408 km) at a cruising speed of 10 knots (5.4 m/s). She had a crew of 632.

The ship's main armament consisted of a battery
Artillery battery
In military organizations, an artillery battery is a unit of guns, mortars, rockets or missiles so grouped in order to facilitate better battlefield communication and command and control, as well as to provide dispersion for its constituent gunnery crews and their systems...

 of four 12 inches (30 cm) guns in two twin turrets. This was supplemented by a secondary battery of twelve 6 inches (15 cm) guns. Sevastopols armament was rounded out with ten 47 millimetres (1.9 in) guns, twenty-eight 37 millimetres (1.5 in) 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...

 guns, and six 14 inches (36 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...

s, four of which were submerged.


Sevastopol, named for the siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

, was laid down at the Galernii Island 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 Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

 on 7 March, 1892. Construction was led by two engineers, E. P. Andruschenko and N. I. Afanasyev, and began on 7 May 1892, about the same time as the battleship was laid down. The ceremony was attended by Alexander III of Russia
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:...

 and then-Tsesarevich
Tsesarevich was the title of the heir apparent or presumptive in the Russian Empire. It either preceded or replaced the given name and patronymic.-Usage:...

 Nicholas II. Sevastopol was launched on 1 June 1895 and, after the completion of her hull and decks in 1898, was transferred to 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...

 where her armor and guns were installed. Sevastopol was finished in 1899 and Nikolai Chernishev became her captain, a post which he would retain until 17 March 1904, when Nikolai Essen
Nikolai Essen
Nikolai Ottovich Essen was a Russian naval commander and admiral from the Baltic German Essen family. For more than two centuries his ancestors had served in the Navy, and seven had been awarded the Order of St...

 assumed command.

Service history

Sevastopol began her sea trials on 16 October 1899, and was commissioned after their conclusion into the Imperial Russian Navy. She and her sister ships were transferred to Port Arthur, which was then the port of the First Squadron of the Russian Pacific Fleet. In September 1900, Popov radios were installed on Sevastopol and her sister Poltava, the first Russian battleships to have them. They were also painted white, the same color as the other ships in the First Pacific Squadron. She then left for Port Arthur and arrived at on 13 April 1901. As Russia was not at war with any 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,...

 countries at that time, Sevastopol stayed in port, inactive.

Wartime service

In early February 1904, the Japanese Navy launched a surprise attack on the Russian fleet at Port Arthur
Battle of Port Arthur
The Battle of Port Arthur was the starting battle of the Russo-Japanese War...

. Sevastopol was hit by one shell, either 6 inches (15 cm) or 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter, that wounded two men on her bridge. She soon turned in pursuit along with other ships of the Russian fleet, all firing their forward guns, but she failed to score any hits. On 26 March 1904, Sevastopol was accidentally rammed by , damaging a propeller. After the attack on Port Arthur, the First Pacific Squadron tried to break out several times. During one attempt on 23 June, Admiral 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:...

, commanding the Pacific fleet, retreated after encountering the Japanese fleet. Approaching the harbor, Sevastopol moved slightly out of formation and hit a mine that killed 11 and caused severe flooding, but managed to get inside the harbor and drop anchor. She was under repair for six weeks, during which time a fire broke out on deck, killing two and wounding 28. The Russian battleships were too big to fit into the dry dock at Port Arthur, so large caissons
Caisson (engineering)
In geotechnical engineering, a caisson is a retaining, watertight structure used, for example, to work on the foundations of a bridge pier, for the construction of a concrete dam, or for the repair of ships. These are constructed such that the water can be pumped out, keeping the working...

 were built to provide access to the ships' hulls. On 9 August, with the Japanese Third Army assaulting the outer defenses of Port Arthur, the First Pacific Squadron sortied from its base. Even though Sevastopol was not fully repaired, she sailed with the rest of the fleet with one gun in her aft turret remaining inoperable. They later engaged the Japanese fleet in what would become the Battle of the Yellow Sea
Battle of the Yellow Sea
The Battle of the Yellow Sea was a major naval engagement of the Russo-Japanese War, fought on 10 August 1904. In the Russian Navy, it was referred to as the Battle of 10 August. The battle foiled an attempt by the Russian fleet at Port Arthur to break out and form up with counterparts from...


Although in the center of the Russian line during the battle, Sevastopol was only slightly damaged during the day. In the evening, the Russians massed their fire on the Japanese flagship Mikasa
Japanese battleship Mikasa
is a pre-Dreadnought battleship of the Imperial Japanese Navy, launched in Britain in 1900. She served as the flagship of Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō during the Battle of the Yellow Sea on 10 August 1904, and the Battle of Tsushima on 27 May 1905 during the Russo-Japanese War. The ship is preserved as...

, at that time 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) away. The Japanese battleships returned fire and Sevastopol suffered several shell hits to her superstructure, which killed one man and wounded 62 others. A few minutes later, Mikasa was hit by two 12 inches (30 cm) shells and one 6 inches (15 cm) shell from Retvizan and Sevastopol, which caused 40 casualties. Soon after that, when it seemed that the Russians would be able to escape to Vladivostok, two 12-inch shells from Asashi penetrated the conning tower
Conning tower
A conning tower is a raised platform on a ship or submarine, often armored, from which an officer can con the vessel; i.e., give directions to the helmsman. It is usually located as high on the ship as practical, to give the conning team good visibility....

 of the Russian flagship , killing Vitgeft and the helmsman, severely wounding the captain, and causing the ship to come to a dead stop after executing a sharp turn. Thinking that this was a maneuver planned by Vitgeft, the Russian line started to execute the same turn, causing all of the ships directly behind Tsesarevich, including Sevastopol, to maneuver wildly to avoid hitting the stationary flagship. Prince Pavel Ukhtomski, second in command of the squadron, who was on the Peresvyet, proceeded to signal the other Russian ships via semaphore
Flag semaphore
Semaphore Flags is the system for conveying information at a distance by means of visual signals with hand-held flags, rods, disks, paddles, or occasionally bare or gloved hands. Information is encoded by the position of the flags; it is read when the flag is in a fixed position...

 to steam back to Port Arthur, although the signals were only gradually recognized by Pobeda, Poltava, Pallada and Sevastopol. Sevastopol had one 6 inches (15 cm) and two 47 millimetres (1.9 in) guns knocked out during the battle.

Returning to Port Arthur on 10 August, the squadron found that the city was already under siege by the Japanese Third Army led by Baron
Baron is a title of nobility. The word baron comes from Old French baron, itself from Old High German and Latin baro meaning " man, warrior"; it merged with cognate Old English beorn meaning "nobleman"...

 Nogi Maresuke. On 23 August, Sevastopol bombarded a Japanese battery in an effort to escape along with nine smaller ships, but after she neutralized the battery, she returned to port after a Japanese lookout spotted the approaching ships. As she was maneuvering back into Port Arthur, she struck another mine and required repairs. On 5 December the Third Army captured 203 Meter Hill, a crucial position that overlooked the harbor. From there, the Japanese were able to fire on Sevastopol and other ships of the First Pacific Squadron that had survived the Yellow Sea battle. The ships at that time were about 5.7 kilometres (3.5 mi) away from the hill, placing them within range of Japanese shore artillery. By 9 December four battleships and two cruisers had been sunk by the Japanese. Sevastopol, although hit five times by 11 inches (28 cm) shells, managed to move away from the western harbor and out of range of the guns to the minor harbor of White Wolf, where she could be defended by torpedo nets and booms. Within the defensive surroundings of White Wolf, Essen started to plan a sortie through the blockade to Vladivostok or a rendezvous with the Second Pacific Squadron, at that time coaling at Madagascar. At the same time, the commanding admiral of the Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy
The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1869 until 1947, when it was dissolved following Japan's constitutional renunciation of the use of force as a means of settling international disputes...

, Togo Heihachiro
Togo Heihachiro
Fleet Admiral Marquis was a Fleet Admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy and one of Japan's greatest naval heroes. He was termed by Western journalists as "the Nelson of the East".-Early life:...

, as instructed by Emperor Meiji
Emperor Meiji
The or was the 122nd emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession, reigning from 3 February 1867 until his death...

 in Tokyo, ordered the destruction of the battleship by six waves of 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...

s, along with some torpedo boats that were launched from the Fuji
Japanese battleship Fuji
-External links:*...

 and Mikasa.
The torpedo boat and destroyer attacks lasted three weeks, during which 80 torpedoes were launched at Sevastopol. Of these, four hit. The four successful torpedoes were launched on 18 December. Three of them hit the torpedo nets that had been placed around the ship, while the other hit one of the ship's propellers. Although severely damaged, Sevastopol remained afloat and sank two destroyers and damaged six others, killing 35 sailors and five officers. A Japanese cruiser attempting to attack Sevastopol was sunk by a mine in the harbor. When he received news of the surrender of the land fortifications on 2 January 1905, Essen decided to surrender, but scuttled the ship in 55 metres (180.4 ft) of water by opening the seacocks on one side so that the ship could not be salvaged by the Japanese. His other option, a run to Vladivostok, had already been eliminated due to the damage to his propellers by the torpedo. For the act of scuttling Sevastopol, Essen was awarded the Order of St. George
Order of St. George
The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George (also known as Order of St. George the Triumphant, Russian: Военный орден Св...

. Nevertheless, a dispatch from Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

reported that it sank as a result of a Japanese torpedo attack.

Due to the depth of water in which she had sunk, and her position, Sevastopol was the only battleship that was not salvaged by the Japanese at Port Arthur. What remains of her is still outside the entrance to Port Arthur. Poltava, one of her sister ships, was also scuttled at Port Arthur and re-floated as the Japanese Tango.
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