Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The Odd Odyssey of Russian Battleship Peresvet

Battleship Peresvet After Launching

Peresvet was the lead ship of the three Peresvet-class pre-dreadnought battleships built for the Imperial Russian Navy at the end of the nineteenth century. Her keel was laid down on 21 November 1895 by the Baltic Works in Saint Petersburg and she launched on 19 May 1898. She was not completed, however, until July 1901.  The ship was transferred to the Pacific Squadron upon completion and based at Port Arthur from 1903. An omen of Peresvet's bad luck career occurred on the journey to the Pacific.  The ship ran aground on the tip of Langeland Island near Denmark on 1 November 1901.

During the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, she participated in the Battle of Port Arthur suffering minor shell damage and at least two collisions. Peresvet was heavily damaged during the Battle of the Yellow Sea and again in the siege of Port Arthur. In December 1905, The Japanese troops were able to seize Hill 203 overlooking the harbor on 5 December. This allowed the Imperial Japanese Army's siege guns to fire directly at the Russian ships and they hit Peresvet many times. The ship was scuttled before the Russians surrendered.   Peresvet was later salvaged by the Japanese and placed into service with the name Sagami. 

Raised After Scuttling

Partially rearmed, Sagami was reclassified by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as a coastal defense ship in 1912. In 1916, the Japanese sold her to the Russians, their allies since the beginning of World War I.  On the way to Vladivostok for refitting, Peresvet once again ran aground. En route to the White Sea in early 1917, she sank off Port Said, Egypt, after striking mines laid by German submarine U-73.  Over 100 of her crew were lost in the sinking.

Sources: Russian & Soviet Battleships by Stephen McLaughlin; Wikipedia

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