The history of the Russian fleet: the creation and great victories
Even with a quick glance at the map of Russia, it is not difficult to see that most of its borders (almost 63%) fall on the seas and oceans. It is therefore not surprising that our ancestors have long been sailors, but the true history of the Russian fleet dates back a little more than three centuries and is associated with the name of Peter I.
At the origins of Russian navigation
In fairness it should be noted that the beginning of the history of the Russian fleet dates back to the times of the founder of the Romanov dynasty ─ Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich. When it appeared in the country, the first large three-mast ship "Frederick", created on the Western model. However, during a campaign in Persia, it ran aground in the coastal waters of the Caspian Sea, and then was dragged ashore and killed, looted by local residents. After such an inglorious debut, the Russian sailors carried out several very successful military operations, but they won solely at the expense of personal courage, since they still had to go to the grandfathers' galleys.
The construction of ships, which met the requirements of that old era, is associated with the name of Peter the Great. In the history of the Russian fleet, he is considered one of the key figures. Immediately after the Second Azov campaign, in which the Russian ground forces were supported by two battleships, four firefighters (a ship intended for arson of enemy ships), and a large number of galleys and planes, the sovereign set about creating a regular fleet.
It is believed that the history of the Russian fleet begins on October 20 (30), 1696, when the boyar duma, having discussed the report submitted by Peter I, decided to start building ships at the Voronezh shipyard. This date became his official birthday.
The war for access to the Baltic Sea
A powerful incentive for the creation of domestic military courts was Russia's participation in the Northern War (1700-1721) with Sweden. During this period, the Baltic Fleet began to actively develop. At the beginning of the war, ships were built mainly in shipyards established in the mouths of the rivers Luga, Olonka and Syasi. But then the center of the Russian shipbuilding moved to St. Petersburg. The main naval base of the Baltic Fleet was also created there. Somewhat later, ships began to be stationed at the quays of Kronstadt, Vyborg, Helsinfors, Abo and Revel.
During the Northern War, the history of the Russian navy was associated with the creation of sailing ships of various types. They were intended both to protect the coasts conquered from the Swedes, and to carry out long voyages associated with attacks on the sea lanes of the enemy.
However, to perform such a wide range of combat missions, domestic production vessels were not enough, and they had to be bought abroad. To solve the problem, a new shipyard was created by a state decree, the work of which was carried out under the guidance of foreign specialists specially issued for this purpose in Russia.
The results of Peter I to create a fleet
In the last year of the reign of Peter I (1725), the Russian fleet was already a formidable force. Suffice it to say that it included 130 combat sailing ships of various types, as well as 77 auxiliary vessels. Such a powerful potential put Russia on a par with the leading maritime powers of the world.
In the same period, a new and in many ways advanced layer of Russian nobles who became naval officers was created and finally formed. They were very literate people, many of whom were trained abroad, from which they were returned by qualified specialists.The disciplines they studied included: navigation, navigation, mathematics, physics, astronomy, as well as the theory and practice of naval battles.
The decline and new rise of the Russian fleet
However, such a successful period in the history of the Russian navy ended with the death of Peter I. If in 1726, thanks to the former inertia, one ship was still laid, then in the next 4 years no work was done. The ships built earlier had fallen into disrepair and became useless. As a result, by 1730, when Anna Ioannovna ascended the Russian throne, the once powerful domestic fleet numbered only 50 ships, of which only a third was capable of going to sea.
With all the negative aspects of the rule of Anna Ioannovna, researchers note its significant contribution to the history of the creation of the Russian fleet. Barely accustomed to the role of ruler of one of the largest states in the world, she attended to the revival of his naval forces. In 1732, by her decree, a Commission was created to develop and implement maritime reform. It consisted of the best naval commanders of the time.
In parallel with this, work was carried out on the reconstruction of old and the creation of new shipyards.As a result, over the ten-year period of the reign of Anna Ioannovna, about 150 ships were launched, of which almost a hundred were built in Arkhangelsk, a city that received the status of a leading center of domestic shipbuilding.
Formation of the Black Sea Fleet
A new page in the history of the Russian fleet opened in the second half of the 18th century, and the impetus for this was the policy of Catherine II, whose goal was to establish domination of the Black Sea. During the years of her rule, Russia became a member of two Russian-Turkish wars (1768-1774 and 1787-1791) during which a significant burden fell on sailors. The first victory of the Russian fleet in Russian history, won far from its native shores, dates back to this period.
In June 1770, the squadron under the command of Admiral Spiridonov defeated the Turkish fleet in the Chesmen battle, which secured priority in the Aegean Sea. As a result of joint actions of the ships of the Azov and Black Sea squadrons, Russia won a number of victories over the fleet of the Ottoman Empire, and gained control over the coast of the Azov Sea and a significant portion of the Black Sea coastal strip.Their consequence was the annexation of Crimea to Russia, carried out in 1783 by the troops of Prince Potemkin with the support of the forces of the navy.
At the turn of the century
At the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, the Russian navy was the third largest in the world in terms of size and power, only slightly behind the naval forces of Great Britain and France. During this period, it consisted of: the Baltic and Black Sea Fleets, as well as three independent fleets ─ the Caspian Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk and the White Sea. An important event in the history of the Russian fleet was the creation in 1802 of the Ministry of Maritime Forces, which took over its centralized control.
Problems of the fleet in the first half of the XIX century
A negative role in the further development of the Russian fleet was played by its significant economic lag behind the Western European countries, observed in the first half of the XIX century. This clearly manifested itself during the Crimean War (1853-1856).
Despite the large number of personnel - 91 thousand people, which in those times was a very high indicator, the Russian naval forces could not ensure the safety of the shores of the Motherland, since the entire material and technical base of the fleet required modernization.World progress inexorably moved forward, and on the open sea the sailing fleet was crowded out by ships equipped with steam engines ─ armadillos, monitors and floating batteries.
However, even with all the negative factors, Russian sailors won a series of brilliant victories during the Crimean War. This, above all, the Battle of Sinop in November 1853, as well as numerous military operations to repel the enemy forces in the defense of Sevastopol.
Measures to modernize the Russian fleet
The sovereign Alexander II, who ascended to the Russian throne in 1855, realizing the need for a radical restructuring of the Russian fleet, made every effort to modernize it and bring it into line with the demands of the times. In the history of the Russian navy, his reign was marked by the creation of a large number of first-class warships that were not technically inferior to the best foreign models.
This was a whole series of vessels designed to perform tasks in the coastal waters and in remote parts of the world's oceans. Most of them were equipped with thick armor and powerful artillery weapons.The most famous of these was the battleship Peter the Great, whose crew covered themselves with glory in many naval battles.
The tragedy of the Russian-Japanese war
The sad-memorable Russian-Japanese war (1904-1905) has become a tragic page in the history of the fleet. Despite the heroism of the Russian sailors, shown during the defense of Port Arthur and attempts to break through its blockade, a significant superiority of forces was on the side of the enemy. The Tsushima naval battle, in which a squadron of the Pacific Fleet under the command of Admiral Rozhestvensky was defeated and was almost completely destroyed by Japanese naval forces, ended in a major failure.
After the inglorious end of the Russian-Japanese war, the Russian fleet largely lost its former strength, and in subsequent years there was a process of its revival, which, despite all the efforts of the military department, was not completed by the beginning of the First World War.
Russian Navy during the First World War
After Russia began active hostilities as part of the Entente, Germany became its main enemy in the Baltic, whose fleet was more powerful both in terms of its number and its technical equipment.In view of this, the Russian sailors were forced to limit their actions to the defense of the coastline and to separate operations to intercept enemy transport vessels.
On the Black Sea during the First World War, Russia again met its long-time adversary ─ the Ottoman Empire’s fleet. When planning military operations, the Turkish admiral Souchon made a main stake on two of his most advanced German-made cruisers ─ Breslau and Geben. However, both of them, having received serious damage during the collision with the Russian squadron, were forced to retreat to the Bosphorus. As a result, by December 1915, Russia controlled the entire water area of the Black Sea.
Fleet of Soviet Russia
The period of the Civil War was marked by the legendary Ice Campaign of the ships of the Baltic Fleet from Finland, where they were blocked after the signing of the disgraceful for Russia of Brest peace, in Kronstadt. It was carried out in March ─ April 1918, when the Gulf of Finland was still covered with ice, and allowed to save 235 ships for the country, as well as a large amount of military equipment.
The history of the great victories of the Russian army and navy during the years of the Great Patriotic War was widely covered in the Soviet press and is the subject of close attention of the public today.And this is not by chance. Suffice it to say that over 100 thousand people among the sailors of the Baltic Fleet alone were awarded orders and medals, and 138 were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union, many of whom were posthumously. That is why one of the most popular holidays is the Day of the Russian Navy today. The history of the country's naval forces continues with the onset of the era of democratic change in it and is entering a new level.