Why do Russian sailors have drowned the black sea fleet in the Crimean war

History 19/02/20 Why do Russian sailors have drowned the black sea fleet in the Crimean war

the Russian black sea fleet was considered to be well-organized combat formation. He acquired such fame that for a long period (years 1834-1851) when it was commanded by Admiral M. P. Lazarev (the discoverer of Antarctica). Before the war with Turkey, in the spring and summer of 1853 in St. Petersburg discussed the question whether landing on the shores of the Bosphorus, one blow to take Constantinople and win the war? In the complete superiority of the Russian fleet over the Turkish no doubt. However, the Emperor Nicholas I and many generals doubted the ability of ground forces to quickly seize the fortifications of the Ottoman capital. In the end, was elected a cautious manner, not brought success.

meanwhile, Russian black sea fleet proved its superiority over the enemy. In November 1853, a squadron of the black sea fleet under the command of Vice Admiral P. S. Nakhimov destroyed the Turkish fleet in the roadstead of Sinope. But after that the situation in the Black sea has changed. It includes the fleets of England and France in March 1854 declared war on Russia.

the balance of forces at the main battle ships was now not in favor of the Russian fleet. He on the Black sea was 14 ships of the line, 13 frigates, and 52 other ship types, while the United Anglo-French fleet of 26 ships of the line, 24 frigates and 37 other courts. At the same time Russian was only 6 steam frigates (the steam-frigates) and 23 of the steam vessel of the smaller class, while the allies were steam-powered were 8 battleships, almost all frigates (22) and 35 other vessels. Thus, the Anglo-French fleet was superior to the Russian not only firepower, but also in maneuverability.

With the arrival of the allied fleet in the Black sea Russian fleet began to sit on the roads of Sevastopol. He did not interfere with the free movement of English, French, Hungarian Portuguese versionfir and Turkish troops from one theater to another. Now the allies become complete masters of the Black sea. 10th (22nd) April, 1854, English and French ships almost with impunity bombarded Odessa, sinking many commercial ships (not only Russian, but also of neutral countries) at anchor, triggering the city’s great destruction and fires. Landed the expeditionary force, first in Varna, the allies, after the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Danubian principalities (now Romania), decided to transfer him to the Crimea and did it again freely.

Commander of all land and naval forces in the Black sea at this time was Admiral A. S. Menshikov. His career, he did serve at the court and in the army. It is curious that in 1820 he was offered the post of black sea fleet commander, but he refused, as rightly considered himself ignorant of naval matters, and unfit for such a post.

1 (13) September 1854 the allies landed in the Crimea at Yalta. Menshikov ordered not to interfere with the landing, as well as hoping to destroy the army of the allies on land. However, in the battle at the river Alma 8 (20) September the allies had gained a complete victory. Menshikov retreated with the remnants of the army to Sevastopol, and into the Crimean Peninsula, seized with panic and despair. The evening of the same day he sent orders to the chief of staff of the black sea fleet Vice-Admiral V. A. Kornilov: “the Entrance to the Bay, to block, to drill ships and manufacture them to flooding, the naval gun to shoot, and sailors to send in the defense of Sevastopol”.

the next day Kornilov gathered a military Council of the fleet and offered another option: to attack the allied fleet and, even with the loss of their ships, to inflict as heavy losses. Thus, Kornilov preferred a glorious death fleet in combat its sinking. However, it was also a gesture of despair. Because the purpose of the flood was to not let enemy ships pass on the RAID of Sevastopol. But it could be done and even unflooded fleet on the same RAIDE. And, being sunken in the battle, the Russian ships would be the same boom as sunk in addition to the battle. As he and the other option involved the destruction of the crews of the ships, most of their commanders called for the execution of the order of Menshikov. Ships had to be withdrawn crews, guns and ammunition and distributed along the shore for the land defense of Sevastopol.

11 (23) September began flooding the courts. They were shot from the shore guns. With tears in the eyes of the old sailors accompanied their warships, hiding now under water. Only this time, it was flooded five battleships and two frigates. Then the autumn storms swept part of the boom. Then was sunk by another battleship, and in winter – three battleships and three frigates.

so the Russian black sea fleet played only a passive-passive role in the defense of Sevastopol. It flooding is considered a symbolic act of the end of the era of sailing ships, their surrender to steam. However, historians remain questions. Are these naval forces could not be used more effectively? After all the remaining unflooded Russian steam-frigates Vladimir and Khersones has repeatedly supported the land forces with its fire, and went to sea to attack enemy ships. Once a barricade of sunken ships did not prevent the Russian ships to leave Sevastopol RAID, therefore, one would not hurt the enemy ships to break through to him. And if so, how much more benefit to the defense of Sevastopol could bring unflooded warships on his RAID?

in addition, it seems likely that part of the black sea fleet, being pre-distributed to other ports of the Black sea, could take away for him the forces of the Anglo-French fleet and make his actions less focused and effective. Opportunities to use the forces of the Russian black sea fleet in the midst of the enemy’s superiority at sea, obviously, was not pre-prodomAna and tried.

as for the obvious question, why to bar the entrance to Sevastopol were not used minefields, the answer is simple. Mine arms had just appeared. Russia, it was used in the war to bar the way of the English fleet in the roads of Kronstadt and the Neva Bay. On the Black sea mines prior to the Crimean war did not have time to appear.

Yaroslav Butakov

© Russian Seven

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