Although often not appreciated in the West, Russia has a rich naval history dating back over 300 years. Russia's Navy was formerly established by Peter the Great and handled itself well against the Swedes and the Turks. Just like the American naval tradition, brave actions by men and ships are remembered in the naming of new warships. The USN has the Enterprise, Farragut and Yorktown and the Russian Navy has the Slava, Varyag, Merkuria and Makarov. The stories of these ships and men can be found in Saint Petersburg.

Without doubt, the Central Naval Museum has one of the finest naval and maritime collections in the world. There are thousands of artifacts on display, along with dozens of ship models. For the naval enthusiast this is a "must see" museum if anyone is near Saint Petersburg. The museum was originally established in 1709 as the "Model Chamber" and renamed "Naval Museum" in 1805. Obviously only a small portion of its holdings are exhibited at any given time. Here are some details about the collection.

- more than 800,000 artifacts
- more than 2,000 ship models
- more than 7,000 arms, weapons, uniforms and equipment
-more than 3,500 flags and banners
- more than 2,000 paintings
- the Boat of Peter the Great, built by him, is one of the most prized possessions

Central Naval Museum

Birzhevaya pl., 4
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Telephone: 218-25-02
Hours: Open 10:30 AM to 17:45 PM, closed Monday & Tuesday
Located in the former Stock Exchange building


Bil Ragan



Laid down in 1889 the Navarin was a turret ship with heavily armored turrets of 12-inch armor but no barbette armored tube leading to the magazines. Belt armor was a maximum of 16-inches. The funnel arrangement was most unusual with two pairs of side-by-side funnels. Because of this arrangement the Navarin was nicknamed "The Factory". Launched in October 1891 and completed in 1896 the Navarin ha a top speed of 15.5-knots. Displacing 10,206-tons, 800 tons over designed weight, the ship had a very small coal capacity of 400 to 700 tons, making her very short range. At the end of 2004 Navarin was made the flagship of the 3rd Pacific Squadron and was dispatched with the rest of the obsolete ships of the squadron through the Suez Canal to reinforce the Russian 2nd Pacific Squadron, which sailed around the Cape of Good Hope. At the Battle of Tsushima, she survived shell fire and a torpedo hit before hitting one or two mines that had been laid in her path and sinking on May 28, 1905.

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Laid down in 1894, the Rossia was an armored cruiser of 13,675-tons. Overweight from the designed displacement of 12,195-tons, the design was only capable of 20 knots. The belt was 8-inch to 4-inch in width and ran from the stern to 80-feet short of the bow. Armament was four 8-inch/45 and sixteen 6-inch/45 guns but all of them were lightly armored. Completed in 1897, the Rossia was part of the cruiser squadron based at Vladivostok during the Russo-Japanese War. Rossia participated in the Battle of Ulsan against a Japanese cruiser squadron. She received significant damages and heavy casualties during the battle but her propulsion was undamaged. She made it back to Vladivostok and survived the war. During World War One she took an active part in operations in the Baltic Sea. Rossia was scrapped in 1922.

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Varyag, Cruiser 1st Rank

In 1898 the shipyard's of Imperial Russia work working to full capacity and couldn't handle new orders. With relations with Great Britain strained and relations with Japan steadily deteriorating, the Russian Navy needed to order more warships, so they went shopping overseas. The Varyag is a protected cruiser with an armored deck but no belt armor, was ordered from the Cramp Yard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Laid down in 1898, launched in October 1899 and completed in 1900, the 6,500 ton cruiser mounted twelve 6-inch guns in open mounts. The Varyag was at the Korean port of Chemulpo when the Russo-Japanese War started, she and a gunboat were trapped by a superior Japanese cruiser squadron. She steamed out to engage the squadron and was badly damaged. After this she returned to port and blew herself up. Raised by the Japanese, she was renamed Soya. In 1916 she was sold back to Russia and sailed to Liverpool for repairs, which were never undertaken. The hulk was scrapped in Great Britain in 1921.

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