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Slava Pre-Dreadnought Battleship (1905)

Authored By JR Potts, AUS 173d AB | Last Updated: 5/9/2013

The Slava was the last of the pre-dreadnought Borodino-class of battleships in service to the Imperial Russian Navy.

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The word "Slava" itself translates to "Glory" in Russian and her representative vessel was the last of the Borodino-class battleships to be built. She was launched in 1903 and commissioned in 1905, this timing making her a "pre-dreadnought" battleship. Her class design was copied from the Russian battleship "Tsesarevich" which itself was constructed in France from a blueprint that was devised from a team of both French and Russian engineers. Due to the lack of shipbuilding space across Russia, many of her surface vessels were constructed through these foreign port arrangements. Slava was commissioned too late to take part in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 though the other four ships of her class were either sunk or surrendered by/to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). After conclusion of hostilities, Russia had lost many of her capital ships, making Slava one of her most powerful vessels still operating with the Baltic Fleet.

Her Krupp-brand steel belt armor was 5.9- to 9.0-inches (150-230mm) thick and her deck was covered over in 2.25-inches (57mm) of armor to protect against plunging fire. The 12-inch main gun turrets and their crews 10-inches (250mm) of armor while secondary 6-inch turrets received 5.9-inches (150mm) of armor. Along with the bridge, the conning tower was protected by up to 10-inches (250mm) of armor plate.

As a whole, Slava was 397 feet, 3 inches (121.08 meters) long and her beam was 76 feet, 1 inch (23.19 meters) along a draft of 29 feet, 2 inches (8.89 meters). Her displacement registered at 15,520 long tons. For steaming, Slava was equipped with a pair of 4-cylinder, vertical, triple expansion steam engines fueled by coal heating water across 20 tube boilers - both constructed by the Baltic Works Company. The engines outputted 15,800 ihp (11,782 kW) and produced 16,378 ihp (12,213 kW) resulting in a top speed of 17.64 knots (32.67 km/h; 20.30 mph). She could carry 1,350 long tons (1,370 tons) of coal that allowed her to steam out to 2,590 nautical miles (4,800 km) at a reduced speed of 10 knots (19 km/h) using her twin shafts with four-bladed screw propellers.

The ship, with her armor and powerful engines, was designed of single-purpose - to be a massive gun platform. Slava's 4-40 caliber main guns were mounted in two twin turrets, one located fore and the other aft, each having a rate-of-fire of about one round per minute. Each emplacement maintained 200-degree arc of fire though only one of her main turrets could fire directly forward or aft at any one time (due to the placement of the superstructure between the two emplacements) and, furthermore, each turret was limited to just 30 projectiles. Secondary armament was 12-45 caliber, 6-inch (152 mm) guns. These systems were mounted across six electrically-powered twin mount turrets along the upper deck - two held aft of each 40-caliber turrets, one located to port and the other to starboard. Two more turrets were mounted at amidships in a port and starboard emplacement. Each cannon maintained a rate-of-fire of up to three rounds per minute and each gun turret received 180 projectiles. Anti-ship 20-75-millimeter (3.0 inch) guns were mounted in casemates just below the main deck, held very close to the water line, while six more were fitted along the port side and a further six along starboard. Four 3-inch turrets were mounted on the stern facing aft and four more on the bow, all of the 3-inch guns were allotted 300 shells each. These small caliber guns were primarily utilized to defend against close-in torpedo boat attacks. The Slava class was one of the last to be equipped with torpedo tubes for battleships were not specifically designed to make torpedo attacks against large capital ships. She was equipped with four 15-inch (381mm) torpedo tubes, one tube fitted at the bow and other one aft in the stern with two torpedoes each. Another tube was located along the port side and another offset to the starboard side, these forward of the smoke stack with each tube loaded with three torpedoes.

After the war with Japan, Slava helped to put down the Sveaborg Rebellion of 1906. Sailors in the Baltic Fleet revolted, along with other military elements, as part of the Russian Revolution. Later she became a training ship for officers recently graduated from the naval college set up due to sailor complaints against officer cruelty. A boiler failure kept her in port for repairs for nearly a year and, when repaired, she was assigned to the Baltic Fleet.

The Baltic Fleet was still short of ships and had only four pre-dreadnought type battleships in service prior to World War 1. In 1914, Slava was stationed at the mouth of the Gulf of Finland. At the beginning of World War 1, she was sent to the Gulf of Riga in support of the Russian Army against any German surface ships. In August of 1915, the German High Seas Fleet sailed into the Gulf and was met (and ultimately) defeated by the Russian Gulf of Riga Squadron led by the Slava. Through 1916, Slava continued to be a moving gun platform and called to bombard German positions along the shores of Riga.

In 1917, Slava continued to defend the Gulf of Riga and shell these German onshore emplacements. Two German dreadnoughts, the Konig and Kronprinz, were sent to the Gulf to provide cover for allied minesweepers clearing the Gulf of Russian mines in preparation for a German troop landing. The Russian squadron - consisting of Slava, the pre-dreadnought Grazhdanin and the armored cruiser Bayan - sailed south to meet the Germans resulting in the Battle of Moon Sound. Slava, being out-gunned, was hit a number of times by the German ship Konig and the Russian squadron was forced to retire. Slava ran aground by the island of Muhu and had to be scuttled. Russian destroyers evacuated Slava's crew and Russian torpedoes ultimately sank her.

Slava served the Russian Navy well during her tenure and was officially removed from the naval register on May 29th, 1918.

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Specifications for the
Slava
Pre-Dreadnought Battleship


Country of Origin: Russia
Initial Year of Service: 1905
Operators: Russia


Crew: 846


Length: 397ft (121.01m)
Beam: 76ft (23.16m)
Draught: 29ft (8.84m)
Displacement: 14,646tons


Machinery: 2 x 4-cylinder vertical triple expansion steam engines; 20 x water-tube boilers; delivering 16,378ihp to two shafts.

Surface Speed: 17kts (20mph)
Range: 2,980miles (4,796km)


Armament:
2 x 12-inch (305mm) main guns in dual mountings
6 x 6-inch (152mm) guns in dual mountings
20 x 75mm (3-inch) cannons in single mounts
4 x 47mm (2-inch saluting cannons in single mounts
4 x 15-inch (381mm) torpedo tubes


Ship Class: Borodino-class
Number-in-Class: 5
Ships-in-Class: Borodino; Imperator Alexander III; Oryol (Iwami); Knyaz Suvorov; Slava