Zinovy Rozhestvensky
Zinovy Petrovich Rozhestvensky ( – January 14, 1909) was an admiral
Admiral is the rank, or part of the name of the ranks, of the highest naval officers. It is usually considered a full admiral and above vice admiral and below admiral of the fleet . It is usually abbreviated to "Adm" or "ADM"...

 of 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...

. He was in command of the Second Pacific Squadron 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...

, during 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...


Admiral Rozhesvensky selected the Knyaz Suvorov
Russian battleship Knyaz Suvorov
The Knyaz Suvorov was a pre-dreadnought battleship of the Russian Imperial Navy, built by Baltic Works, St Petersburg. Laid down in July 1901, she was launched in September 1902 and completed in September 1904. This ship was named after the 18th-century Russian general Alexander Suvorov. Her...

, one of four brand new battleships of the French-designed Borodino class
Borodino class battleship
The five Borodino-class battleships were pre-dreadnoughts built between 1899 and 1905 for the Imperial Russian Navy...

, as his flagship for the voyage to the Pacific. Under Admiral Rozhestvensky's command, the Russian navy holds the record of sailing an all-steel, coal-powered battleship fleet over 18,000 miles one way, to engage an enemy in decisive battle.

Early Naval Career

Rozhestvensky graduated from the Sea Cadet Corps
Sea Cadet Corps (Russia)
The Sea Cadet Corps , occasionally translated as the Marine Cadet Corps or the Naval Cadet Corps, is an educational establishment for training Naval officers for the Russian Navy in Saint Petersburg.It is the oldest existing high school in Russia.-History:...

 in 1868 and the Mikhailovsky Artillery Academy in 1873. he initially served with the Baltic Fleet as a gunnery officer. In 1876 he transferred to the Black Sea Fleet. During the Russo Turkish War he served on board the gunboat
A gunboat is a naval watercraft designed for the express purpose of carrying one or more guns to bombard coastal targets, as opposed to those military craft designed for naval warfare, or for ferrying troops or supplies.-History:...

-Astronomy:* 4 Vesta, second largest asteroid in the solar system, also a proto-planet, named after the Roman deity* Vesta family, group of asteroids that includes 4 Vesta- Places :* Monte Vesta, Lombardy, Italy* Temple of Vesta, Rome, Italy...

. On June 10, 1877 six 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...

s, five of which were armed with spar torpedoes, attempted to attack four ironclads of the Turkish Navy
Turkish Navy
The Turkish Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the Turkish Armed Forces.- Ottoman fleet after Mudros :Following the demise of the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of World War I, on November 3, 1918, the fleet commander of the Ottoman Navy, Liva Amiral Arif Pasha, ordered all flags to be...

. The then Lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 Rozhestvensky volunteered to lead the first attack against the Turkish warships, but his torpedo boat became caught up in the rope boom defenses that protected the enemy ships. The attack was beaten back by Turkish gunfire which destroyed one torpedo boat and the remaining boats withdrew, leaving the enemy ironclads intact. In July 1877 while still assigned to the Vesta, he engaged and damaged a Turkish warship, the Fethi-Bulend, and Rozhestvensky was awarded the Order of Saint Vladimir and Order of St George for this action.

In 1883 to 1885 Rozhestensky was seconded to the newly formed Bulgarian Navy
Bulgarian Navy
The Bulgarian Navy is the navy of Republic of Bulgaria and forms part of the Bulgarian Armed Forces. It has been largely overlooked in the reforms that Bulgaria had to go through in order to comply with NATO standards, mostly because of the great expense involved and the fact that naval assaults...

. He returned to Russian service and was senior officer on the battery ship Kreml and the cruiser Gerzog Edinburgski
Russian cruiser Gerzog Edinburgski
The Gerzog Edinburgski was an armoured cruiser built for the Imperial Russian Navy. She was a sister ship of the Russian cruiser General-Admiral and was named after Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Edinburgh who married Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia.The ship was...

. He then commanded the clipper Naezdnik and gunboat Grozyachiy. In 1891-93 he was naval attache in London. In 1894 he commanded the Vladimir Monomakh
Russian armoured cruiser Vladimir Monomakh
Vladimir Monomakh was an armoured cruiser built for the Imperial Russian Navy during the 1880s. The vessel was named after Vladimir II Monomakh, Grand Prince of Kiev. She spent most of her career in the Far East, although the ship was in the Baltic Sea when the Russo-Japanese War began in 1904...

 which was part of the Russian Meditarranean squadron under the command of Admiral Stepan Makarov
Stepan Makarov
Stepan Osipovich Makarov was a Ukrainian - born Russian vice-admiral, a highly accomplished and decorated commander of the Imperial Russian Navy, an oceanographer, awarded by the Russian Academy of Sciences, and author of several books. Makarov also designed a small number of ships...

. In 1896-98 he commanded the coast defence ship Pervenets. In 1898 he became commander of the gunnery school of the Baltic Fleet. In 1900 he commanded the salvage operation for the Admiral Graf Apraksin. In 1902 he was appointed Chief of the Naval Staff and proposed a plan for strengthening the Russian Navy in the Far East.

Russo-Japanese War

Prior to the war against Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, Rozhestvensky was commander of the Baltic Fleet
Baltic Fleet
The Twice Red Banner Baltic Fleet - is the Russian Navy's presence in the Baltic Sea. In previous historical periods, it has been part of the navy of Imperial Russia and later the Soviet Union. The Fleet gained the 'Twice Red Banner' appellation during the Soviet period, indicating two awards of...

. Tsar Nicholas II ordered Rozhestvensky to take the Baltic Fleet to East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

 to protect the Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n naval base of Port Arthur
Lüshunkou is a district in the municipality of Dalian, Liaoning province, China. Also called Lüshun City or Lüshun Port, it was formerly known as both Port Arthur and Ryojun....

. The Tsar had selected the right man for the job, for it would take an iron-fisted commander to sail an untested fleet of brand new battleships (for some of the new Borodinos, this voyage was their shakedown cruise
Shakedown (testing)
A shakedown is a period of testing or a trial journey undergone by a ship, aircraft or other craft and its crew before being declared operational. Statistically, a proportion of the components will fail after a relatively short period of use, and those that survive this period can be expected to...

) and new untrained sailors on the longest coal-powered battleship fleet voyage in recorded history. Admiral Rozhestvensky, a veteran of the Turkish war, had a fiery temper when dealing with a subordinate, and both officers and men knew to stand clear of "Mad Dog" when a subordinate either disobeyed orders, was incompetent, or both. Rozhestvensky was fully aware that he had a new untrained navy under his command and that re-coaling stations would not be available during the journey, due to Britain's alliance with Japan; and that both the shakedown testing of the new battleships and the gunnery practice/training would have to occur during the voyage. In addition, re-coaling would have to be done at sea, instead of in port as with most other navies. As a consequence of these circumstances, the mission-minded commander would sometimes fire service ammunition (live gunfire) across the bows of an errant warship, and in a fiery moment fling his binoculars from the bridge into the sea. When his battleship fleet set sail in 1904, Rozhestvensky's staff ensured that his flagship, Knyaz Suvorov, had a good supply of binoculars on board.

Nevertheless the inexperience of the Russian Baltic Fleet almost triggered a war between Russia and Great Britain as it sailed through the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

. After several Russian ships mistook British fishing trawlers at Dogger Bank
Dogger Bank
Dogger Bank is a large sandbank in a shallow area of the North Sea about off the east coast of England. It extends over approximately , with its dimensions being about long and up to broad. The water depth ranges from 15 to 36 metres , about shallower than the surrounding sea. It is a...

 for 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...

s from 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...

, they opened fire on the unarmed civilian vessels. The Dogger Bank incident
Dogger Bank incident
The Dogger Bank incident occurred when the Russian Baltic Fleet mistook some British trawlers at Dogger Bank for an Imperial Japanese Navy force....

 on the night of the 21-22 October 1904 resulted in the deaths of three British fishermen and many wounded. One sailor and a priest aboard a Russian cruiser were also killed in the crossfire.
The Russian government agreed to investigate the incident following a great deal of international diplomatic pressure. Admiral Rozhestvenski was ordered to dock in Vigo
Vigo is a city and municipality in north-west Spain, in Galicia, situated on the ria of the same name on the Atlantic Ocean.-Population:...

, Spain while battleships of the Royal Navy from the British Home Fleet were prepared for war. Several British cruiser
A cruiser is a type of warship. The term has been in use for several hundreds of years, and has had different meanings throughout this period...

 squadrons shadowed Rozhestvenski's fleet as it made its way through the Bay of Biscay
Bay of Biscay
The Bay of Biscay is a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea. It lies along the western coast of France from Brest south to the Spanish border, and the northern coast of Spain west to Cape Ortegal, and is named in English after the province of Biscay, in the Spanish...

. On arrival in Spain, Rozhestvenski left behind those officers he considered responsible for the incident (as well as at least one officer who had been critical of him). On November 25, 1904, the British and the Russian governments signed a joint agreement in which they agreed to submit the issue to an International Commission of Inquiry at The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

. On February 26, 1905, the commission published its report. It criticized Rozhestvenski for allowing his ships to fire upon the British ships. But noted that "as each [British] vessel swept the horizon in every direction with her own searchlights to avoid being taken by surprise, it was difficult to prevent confusion". The report also concluded that once the mistake was known "Admiral Rozhestvenski personally did everything he could, from beginning to end of the incident, to prevent [the trawlers] from being fired upon by the squadron". Russia eventually paid £66,000 (£5.8m today) in compensation.

Battle of Tsushima

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...

 (27–28 May 1905), Admiral Togo drew upon his experiences from the battles of Port Arthur and the Yellow Sea
Yellow Sea
The Yellow Sea is the name given to the northern part of the East China Sea, which is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean. It is located between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula. Its name comes from the sand particles from Gobi Desert sand storms that turn the surface of the water golden...

, and this time would not split his fires nor engage Rozhestvensky at excessive ranges, as he had done with Admiral Vitgeft at the Yellow Sea the year previously. He would instead, with the proper use of reconnaissance vessels and wireless
Wireless telecommunications is the transfer of information between two or more points that are not physically connected. Distances can be short, such as a few meters for television remote control, or as far as thousands or even millions of kilometers for deep-space radio communications...

 communications position his battle fleet in such a way as to "preserve his interior lines of movement", which would allow him to have shorter distances to cover while causing Rozhestvensky to have longer distances to travel, regardless of battleship speeds.

Naval intelligence had already informed Togo of Rozhestvensky's mission, that of reaching 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...

, and avoiding contact with the Japanese navy if at all possible, and fighting as little as possible, if forced into it. Rozhestvensky's objective was to reinforce the Vladivostok Squadron, and then, when the Russian navy felt sufficiently prepared, they would engage the Japanese navy in a decisive action.

With this knowledge in possession, Togo planned on preempting the Russian plan, by positioning his battle fleet to "bring the Russian fleet to battle, regardless of the speed of either battlefleet." Admiral "Togo was able to appear directly across Rozhestvensky's line of advance; he was headed" (Rozhestvensky's T had been crossed). With only most of his bow guns to use, Rozhestvensky's main batteries were "thrown successively out of bearing" as he continued to advance. Other than surrender or retreat, Rozhestvensky had but two choices; fight a pitched battle or charge Togo's battleline. He chose the former, and by the evening of 27 May 1905, Rozhestvensky's flagship , and the majority of his fleet were on the bottom of the Tsushima Straits.

During the battle, Admiral Rozhestvensky had been wounded in the head by a shell fragment; unconscious, he was transferred to a destroyer which was eventually captured. Rozhestvensky was taken prisoner 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...

, but some 5,000 of his men had perished.http://www.slashdoc.com/documents/94866 In 1906, his case was taken to court, as was each battleship commander, some facing prison and some the firing squad for either losing the battle or surrendering on the high seas. The Tsar's court was fully aware that Admiral Nebogatov
Nikolai Nebogatov
Nikolai Ivanovich Nebogatov was a Rear-Admiral in the Imperial Russian Navy, noted for his role in the final stages of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905.-Biography:...

 had surrendered the Russian fleet, as Rozhestvensky had been wounded and unconscious for most of the battle, and was very reluctant to accept his statements of responsibility. Nonetheless, Admiral Rozhestvensky was adamant in his defense of his subordinate commanders and maintained total responsibility, pleading guilty to losing the battle. As was expected (and hoped) by the courts, the Tsar commuted the death-sentenced captains to short prison terms and pardons for the remaining officers.

Opposing Admirals

The Russian navy had accrued several combat experienced admirals during the war; admirals Oskar Victorovich Stark
Oskar Victorovich Stark
Oskar Victorovich Stark was a vice-admiral in the Imperial Russian Navy and a noted explorer of Peter the Great Bay and the Far Eastern seas. A strait in Peter the Great Bay and a bay in the Tatar Strait are named after him.-Biography:...

, Stephen Makarov, and Vitgeft being amongst them. Makarov had been the most promising with his energy, tactics, and his ability to inspire confidence in his subordinates. But by a series of set-backs all of them had been lost to Russia, from one cause or another.

Although Makarov may have been Russia's greatest asset in the war, had he survived, he may not have been the right choice to lead the Baltic Squadron (later redesignated the 2nd Pacific Squadron) to 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,...

. Even without fighting experience in the Orient, Admiral Rozhestvensky was the one man with the personality, skill, and determination to sail an untested battleship fleet on an unprecedented voyage to the other side of the world. An observation that Tsar Nicholas had immediately noticed before selecting the admiral.

Rozhestvensky's opponent however, Admiral Togo, had been the adversary of Russia's combat experienced admirals during the current war, but he, unlike his Russian naval counterparts, would be present on the battlefield, to exploit those lessons learned from previous engagements against Rozhestvensky; in the end, leaving him no choice but to fight or retreat.

Post war

Rozhestvensky lived out the last years of his life in St Petersburg as a recluse. He died of lung disease and was buried in the Alexander Nevsky monastery.

Honours and awards

  • Order of Saint George, 4th class
  • Order of St. Vladimir
    Order of St. Vladimir
    The Cross of Saint Vladimir was an Imperial Russian Order established in 1782 by Empress Catherine II in memory of the deeds of Saint Vladimir, the Grand Prince and the Baptizer of the Kievan Rus....

    , 3rd class and 4th class with ribbon
  • Order of St. Anna
    Order of St. Anna
    The Order of St. Anna ) is a Holstein and then Russian Imperial order of chivalry established by Karl Friedrich, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp on 14 February 1735, in honour of his wife Anna Petrovna, daughter of Peter the Great of Russia...

    , 2nd and 3rd classes
  • Order of St. Stanislaus, 1st, 2nd and 3rd classes
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