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Battleship Evstafi


The Evstafi class were a pair of pre-dreadnought battleships of the Imperial Russian Navy built before World War I for the Black Sea Fleet. They were slightly enlarged versions of the Russian battleship Potemkin, with increased armour and more guns. Numerous alterations were made as a result of experience in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 that seriously delayed the completion of the two ships.

They were the most modern ships in the Black Sea Fleet when World War I began and formed the core of the fleet for the first year of the war, before the newer dreadnoughts entered service. They forced the German battlecruiser SMS Goeben to disengage during the Battle of Cape Sarych shortly after Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire in late 1914. Both ships covered several bombardments of the Bosphorus fortifications in early 1915, including one where they were attacked by the Goeben, but they managed to drive her off. Later, Evstafi and Ioann Zlatoust were relegated to secondary roles after the first dreadnought entered service in late 1915, and were subsequently put into reserve in 1918 in Sevastopol.

Construction of Evstafi began on 13 July 1904, well before the formal keel-laying ceremony on 23 November 1904. Progress was relatively quick, despite the disruptions caused by the 1905 Revolution, and she was launched on 3 November 1906. Fitting-out, however, was considerably delayed by a number of changes made as the navy digested the lessons of the Russo-Japanese War and she was not completed until 28 May 1911. Shortly after completion she ran aground off the Romanian port of Constanta in October 1911.

Evstafi, as the newest ship in the Black Sea Fleet, was the flagship of Vice Admiral Andrei Eberhardt, commanding the fleet, for the first year or so of World War I. Two weeks after the Russian declaration of war on the Ottoman Empire on 2 November 1914, the Black Sea Fleet, comprising the pre-dreadnoughts Evstafi, Ioann Zlatoust, Pantelimon, Rostislav, Tri Sviatitelia, and three cruisers were escorted by three destroyers and 11 torpedo boats set out on 15 November to bombard Trebizond. They did this successfully on the morning of 17 November and they turned west to hunt for Turkish shipping along the Anatolian coast before setting course for Sevastopol later that afternoon. They were intercepted by the German battlecruiser Goeben and the light cruiser SMS Breslau the following day in what came to be known as the Battle of Cape Sarych. Despite the noon hour the conditions were foggy and the capital ships initially did not spot each other. The Black Sea Fleet had experimented on concentrating fire from several ships under the control of a "master ship" before the war and Evstafi held her fire until Ioann Zlatoust, the master ship, could see Goeben. When the gunnery commands were finally received they showed a range over 3700 m in excess of Evstafi's own estimate of 7000 m, so Evstafi opened fire using her own data before Goeben turned to unmask its broadside. She scored a hit with her first salvo as a 12-inch shell partially penetrated the armor casemate protecting one of Goeben's 150-mm secondary guns. It detonated some of the ready-use ammunition, starting a fire that burnt out the casemate and killed its crew.

Goeben returned fire shortly afterwards and hit Evstafi in the middle funnel; the shell detonated after it passed through the funnel and destroyed the antenna for the fire-control radio, which meant that Evstafi could not correct Ioann Zlatoust's inaccurate range data. Goeben hit Evstafi four more times. although one shell failed to detonate, before Rear Admiral Wilhelm Souchon decided to turn away and break contact after fourteen minutes of combat. Evstafi suffered 34 killed and 24 wounded from those hits. Evstafi only fired between 12 and 16 12-inch shells as well as 14 eight-inch and 19 six-inch shells.

Several armour plates on Evstafi required replacement after the battle and they were taken from the old pre-dreadnought Dvenadsat Apostolov so that the repairs were completed by 29 November. On 9 January 1915 Breslau and the Ottoman cruiser Hamidiye encountered the Russian fleet while returning from a mission in the eastern part of the Black Sea. Breslau hit Evstafi's forward turret with a 105-mm shell, temporarily putting it out of action, and the two cruisers escaped using their superior speed.

Evstafi and Ioann Zlatoust served as the covering force for several bombardment missions of the Bosphorus between 18 March and 09 May 1915. The two earlier bombardments were uneventful, but the 9 May bombardment provoked a reaction as Goeben intercepted the Russian battleships after they'd been spotted by the Ottoman destroyer Numune-i Hamiyet. Both forces turned on parallel courses and opened fire at the range of 15900 m. Neither side scored a hit although Goeben had multiple near-misses on Evstafi. Admiral Eberhardt ordered his ships to make only 5 knots while Goeben was making 25 knots. Goeben was unable to cross the T of the Russian ships, despite its superior speed, as they were continually turning. This manoeuvre bought enough time that Tri Sviatitelia and Pantelimon were able to rejoin the other two ships before they could start shelling the Ottoman forts. Pantelimon hit Goeben twice before the German ship broke contact after 22 minutes of firing. With the fleet assembled Admiral Eberhardt attempted to pursue the enemy battlecruiser, but was unsuccessful.

On 1 August 1915 she, and all the other pre-dreadnoughts, were transferred to the 2nd Battleship Brigade, after the dreadnought Imperatritsa Mariya had entered service. On 1 October the new dreadnought provided cover while Ioann Zlatoust and Pantelimon bombarded Zonguldak and Evstafi shelled the nearby town of Kozlu. Both Evstafi-class ships participated in the second bombardment of Varna in May 1916.

Evstafi and Ioann Zlatoust were reduced to reserve in March 1918 in Sevastopol. Immobile, they were captured there by the Germans in May 1918 and Evstafi was subsequently used by them as an accommodation hulk. Both ships were handed over to the Allies the following December. The British wrecked both ships' engines on 22–24 April 1919 when they left the Crimea to prevent the advancing Bolsheviks from using them against the White Russians.They were captured by both sides during the Russian Civil War, but were abandoned by the White Russians when they evacuated the Crimea in November 1920. Evstafi was renamed Revoliutsiia (Revolution) on 06 July 1921. The ships were scrapped in 1922-23, although they were not removed from the Navy List until 21 November 1925.

Builder: Nikolayev Admiralty Shipyard, Nikolayev
Laid down 23 November 1904
Launched03 November 1906
Commissioned 28 May 1911
Displacement 12942 t
Dimensions 117,6 x 22,6 x 8,5 m
Speed16 knots
Propulsion 22 coal-fired Belleville water-tube boilers, 2 Vertical triple expansion steam engines, 10600 ihp (7904 kW), 2 shafts
Guns2 x 2 305-mm guns
4 x 1 203-mm guns
12 x 1 152 mm guns
14 x 1 75-mm guns
2 x 1 450-mm torpedo tubes

Belt: 178-229 mm
Deck: 35-70 mm
Turrets: 254 mm
Barbettes: 254 mm
Conning tower: 203 mm
Bulkheads: 178 mm

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