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   Battleship "Kniaz Potemkin Tavricheskiy" 
Battleship "Kniaz Potemkin Tavricheskiy"
Battleship "Kniaz Potemkin Tavricheskiy"
Battleship "Kniaz Potemkin Tavricheskiy"

Originally laid down under the name of "Kniaz Potemkin Tavricheskiy" in 1898, this battleship was commissioned in 1904, having been named in honour of the celebrated Russian statesman instrumental in creation of the Russian Black Sea Fleet during the reign of Empress Catherine II the Great. She was destined to be the first in a series of new battleships of pre-dreadnought type, fully equal to the best contemporary ships in other navies, with the other two laid down much later.

Soon after her commissioning the Russo-Japanese war of 1904/05 started, in which the Black Sea Fleet did not participate directly, nonetheless it was very much affected by the reverses befalling on the Russian Armed Forces. They were the result of several reasons, detailed study of which is outside the scope of this article. However it is sufficient to say, that one of such reasons was a number of very unpopular and often incompetent leading figures of the Russian Armed Forces, who held the commanding posts at that period. In the Russian Navy, dismal results of such a state were apparent in the disastrous Battle of the Tsushima Straight fought on 27/28 May 1905.

The whole direction of the Russo-Japanese war and the above mentioned battle in particular caused a wave of mutinous outbreaks among the members of the Russian Armed Forces. It also led to a full fledged mutiny on board of the battleship "Kniaz Potemkin Tavricheskiy" on 27 June 1905, when she was away from the main base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. This event took place while she was at anchor in the desolate harbour of Tendra, preparing to undergo a firing practice at sea in which she was later to be joined by the rest of the ships of that fleet.

The mutiny started in a small way, as a protest against bad meat brought aboard the torpedo-boat "No. 267" a day before from Sevastopol. Incited by the several revolutionaries amongst the sailors, it soon had erupted into a shooting between the officers and the crew during which Captain Golikov and most of the officers were killed, and the remaining officers were arrested, including those from the above mentioned torpedo-boat. Both vessels taken over by the crew had hoisted the red flags and on the same day arrived at Odessa harbour, having been met by mutinous workers of that port with expectation of the assistance in the capture of the city. But the crew was hesitant, and fired only two shots from a 6" gun aimed at the seat of the local Governmental Council which missed their target.

On 20 June 1905 a squadron of Russian warships approached Odessa with the intention to capture the battleship "Kniaz Potemkin Tavricheskiy" intact, as she sailed out to meet the fleet at sea. Through an appeal to her crew the admiral sought to reason and called them to arrest their mutinous leaders, but his flag signals failed to convince the mutineers. Moreover, one of the ships of his own squadron, namely the battleship "Georgey Pobiedonosetz", swung out of formation and followed the mutinous ships back to Odessa, although was soon retaken by her loyal crew members while under way and deliberately run aground in the harbour. There she was boarded by troops and surrendered to the local authorities.

With their cause doomed after this event, the mutinous ships "Kniaz Potenkim Tavricheskiy" and torpedo-boat "No. 267" departed on 1 July 1905 for the Roumanian port of Constanza, planning to replenish their coal and food supplies there, as such were well guarded by the loyal troops in Odessa and completely unobtainable. Arriving at Constanza on 3 July 1905 they were met with the strict formality by the Roumanian Authorities and failed in their efforts to attain their objective. Therefore, the mutineers decided to sail back on the same day to the Russian port of Feodosia with the hopes to get replenishment of their dwindling supplies. By the orders received from St. Petersburg, the mayor of that city flatly refused to provide the mutinous ships either, and when a snail landing party from the battleship "Kniaz Potemkin Tavricheskiy" tried to obtain such ashore, it was met by rifle fire from a small detachment of troops and forced to return back without anything at all.

Under the circumstances both mutinous ships returned again to Constanza, arriving there on the 8 July 1905 and were turned over to the Roumanian Authorities. All their crew members had gone ashore and a majority of then returned to Russia later, where they were transferred into various army units to complete their conscription time. Some of the leaders of the mutiny who came back were shot after the court-martial proceedings and a number of others remained abroad as political emigrants.

A special crew was formed from the officers and the sailors of the Russian Black Sea Fleet which brought this battleship back from Rounania to Sevastopol, where on 9 August 1905 (27 July according to the old Russian calendar), on the day when the Russian Church celebrated the memory of St.Panteleimon and the Russian Navy an anniversary of its first major victory on 27 July 1714 over the Swedish Fleet at Gangout, this ship was recommissioned again and renamed as "Panteleimon".

During World War I she was part of the 2nd Battleship Squadron of the Black Sea Fleet and had participated in all of its operations, including the naval bombardment of the Bosphorus by the Russian ships.

After the February 1917 revolution she was renamed by the Kerensky Provisional Government as "Potemkin" at first (on 15 April), then as "Boretz za svobodou" (on 11 May) and, after the October 1917 revolution, became a part of the Soviet Navy.

From then on her fate was identical with that of the battleships "Evstafiy" and "loann Zlatoust", including the destruction of her machinery by an order from the commander of the British cruiser "Calypso", carried out by the British sailors on 25 April 1919, all the way up to her final recapture by the Red Army units in November 1920.

During 1921/22 she served as the stage for making a well known throughout the world film "Potemkin" by S.Eisenstein, depicting the story of her mutiny, which was completed and released for showing in 1925. Soon afterwards this battleship, as not worthy of any repairs by that time, was scrapped in the period of 1922/24.

Builder: The Nikolaev State Shipbuilding Works
Laid down10/10/1898
Commissioned 11/??/1904
Displacement 12,900 tons full load
Dimensions 113.2 x 22.2 x 8.4 meters
Speed16.7 knots
Propulsion 2 sets vertical triple expansion engines, 2 shafts, 10,600 hp
Guns2x2 305-mm, 16 152-mm, 14 75-mm, 4 47-mm, 2 37-mm
excluded 1924
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