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  • They were designed to be the best

  • they met enemies face to face,

  • endured tragedies and enjoyed victories

  • they went down in history due to the bravery of their crews

  • they are the ships that deserve to be called

  • Naval Legends!”

  • In this episode:

  • living heroes of Tsushima

  • In a Japanese town Yokosuka, 62 miles away from Tokyo,

  • Battleship Mikasa is permanently anchored.

  • And four thousand marine miles away from her,

  • cruiser Aurora is anchored in one of the quays of the Neva River in St. Petersburg

  • Although these ships belong to different types and their stories are very different,

  • there is a common moment in their biography:

  • both ships participated in a major naval battle, the Battle of Tsushima,

  • that was the culmination of the Russo-Japanese War

  • in the beginning of the 20th century

  • In 1895, Japan defeated China and occupied the Liaodong Peninsula

  • where a warm-water seaport, Port Arthur was located.

  • This port was very important for the Russian Empire.

  • Together with European states,

  • Russia used military and political pressure to make Japan renounce that peninsula,

  • and later signed a contract of lease of that territory with China for 25 years.

  • Using the opportunity of the Yihetuan Movement, also known as the Boxer Rebellion,

  • Russia expanded into Manchuria and Korea.

  • The Japanese were very worriedby the expansion policy

  • and decided to start preparations to reinforce their fleet.

  • Within seven years, the Japanese fleet was reinforced by four new cruisers and four battleships.

  • Battleship Mikasa, built in British dockyards,

  • became the most powerful new ship of the Land of the Rising Sun.

  • Cruiser Aurora was built in Russia during the same period.

  • This was just a small part of a large scale program aimed at enhancing the country's military potential at sea:

  • The creation of the major Pacific Fleet.

  • But they failed to fully implement the program:

  • on February 9, 1904, Japanese ships attacked Russian fleet near Port Arthur.

  • They also attacked Cruiser Varyag and Gunboat Korietz in the Korean port Chemulpo

  • The Russo-Japanese War began

  • From the first days, this war was unfortunate for Russia:

  • Varyag and Korietz were sunk, and the Russian Pacific Squadron

  • was blocked in Port Arthur by the Japanese fleet.

  • After a little while, Battleship Petropavlovsk tripped a mine and sank

  • with the Fleet CommanderVice Admiral Stepan Osipovich Makarov

  • on whom high hopes were placedon board.

  • Later the battle in the Yellow sea developed and though the Japanese suffered significant losses,

  • they didn't let the Russian ships break through to Vladivostok

  • Due to all of this, the Japanese fleet dominated in the theatre of war.

  • In April 1904, Russia started the formation of the Second Pacific Squadron:

  • for the first time in the history of the world fleets, a menacing unit of over 30 warships of different classes and age

  • set off on a prolonged trip

  • from Libau (now Liepaja) to Port Arthur, round Africa and crossing the Indian Ocean.

  • Overall, about 20,000 miles were covered

  • this is almost the length of the equator.

  • The conditions were very severe as we didn't have any naval bases.

  • And we didn't have allies to help us throughout the voyage

  • During this unprecedented crossing, the Russian seamen heard about the loss of the First Squadron

  • and were reinforced with ships under the command of Rear Admiral Nebogatov

  • With this lineup, the Second Pacific Squadron entered the Korea Strait.

  • Its CommanderVice Admiral Rozhestvenskydecided to take a shortcut to break through to Vladivostok

  • Zinovy Petrovich Rozhestvensky was born in 1848.

  • He had experience commanding a number of Russian ships,

  • he knew naval diplomacy perfectly well, he was the right person in the right place

  • To understand his role, you need to know a lot

  • and experience the bridge of a Headquarter ship in that moment.

  • The morning of May 14, 1905, was gloomy.

  • The Russian fleet didn't even try to hide: Rozhestvensky simply declared war.

  • He even gave up on reconnaissance because he was sure that Japanese warships would meet them in the Korea Strait.

  • Soon ships from the combined fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy

  • appeared from the damp haze.

  • They pursued a parallel course and were commanded by Vice Admiral Togo Heihachiro

  • who appointed Battleship Mikasa to be the Headquarter ship.

  • Togo Heihachiro was born into a Samurai family of Kagoshima

  • When he was 18 years old, he participated

  • in the Anglo-Satsuma War as one of Samurai.

  • Then, after the establishment of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy,

  • he enrolled there to study the theory of naval science.

  • Selected from the lower Samurai class, Togo quickly progressed in life

  • and managed to attain a high rank whilst fighting several battles.

  • He knew the real nature of war from his experience.

  • When Admiral Togo was assigned to the commander of the combined fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy,

  • Emperor Meiji asked his Navy Minister: “Is Togo good enough for this position?”

  • The minister answered,

  • "Yes, because he has a great deal of personality and is known as a very lucky guy".

  • The Emperor was satisfied with that comment.

  • Overall composition of the participants' forces before the Battle of Tsushima.

  • The Second Pacific Squadron of the Russian Empire:

  • 8 battleships

  • 3 coastal battleships

  • 3 armored cruisers

  • 2 large protected cruisers

  • 3 small protected cruisers

  • 1 cruiser 2nd class (aviso)

  • 1 auxiliary cruiser

  • 9 destroyers

  • 7 support vessels.

  • Japanese Combined Fleet:

  • 4 battleships 1st class

  • 8 armored cruisers

  • 2 large protected cruisers

  • 10 small protected cruisers

  • 1 battleship 2nd class

  • 3 cruisers 2nd class

  • 3 torpedo cruisers (aviso)

  • 21 destroyers

  • 43 torpedo boats

  • Gradually, the Japanese fleet started approaching the Russian squadron.

  • Admiral Togo took a risk straight away preparing to envelop

  • the head of the adversary's ship column with a circular maneuver.

  • At the same time, Russian battleships opened preliminary fire

  • the Battle of Tsushima began at 13:49…

  • People say that Togo employed the tactic ofCrossing the T” in the Battle of Tsushima,

  • taking position ahead of and perpendicular to the adversary's ships.

  • But the actual maneuvers of the ships were like this

  • Togo’s real tactics was more of a “rotating attack”,

  • which was similar to the classicalKuruma Gakariformation of Uesugi Kenshin in the medieval Japan.

  • At the very beginning of the battle, a signal flag appeared on Battleship Mikasa:

  • "The fate of the Empire rests on the outcome of this battle. Let each man do his utmost."

  • Moving fast, Mikasa concentrated her fire on Battleship Knyaz Suvorov

  • at the beginning of the battle.

  • In return, several Russian ships fired at Mikasa immediately.

  • Russian salvoes were considerably precise at first:

  • within the first 15 minutes, Togo’s battleship was hit by 19 large- and medium-caliber shells,

  • including five 12-inch rounds

  • But the Japanese fire was more precise,

  • and the damage from the adversary's attacks was less significant.

  • During the battle, luck was on Togo's side.

  • Most shells of the enemy fleet hit Mikasa amongst the Japanese ships,

  • during what became known as the Battle of Tsushima.

  • Admiral Togo standing on the bridge near the compass of the Headquarter ship survived.

  • Meanwhile, Rozhestvensky was observing the battle from the conning tower of his ship.

  • A shell flew into his compartment and exploded, badly wounding the Vice Admiral’s head.

  • The battle continued for over 40 minutes more

  • before the Russian Squadron Commander received a second wound.

  • During this time, one Russian battleship sank, and two other battleships were seriously damaged.

  • A third ship took lead of the squadron trying to break through to Vladivostok.

  • Admiral Togo maneuvered to change the engaged side:

  • his Division 1 turned en masse taking a course away from their adversary

  • and thereupon turned around to open fire on the Russian ships from the left side.

  • As a result of this maneuver, the firepower of the Japanese ships

  • became as powerful as it was at the beginning of the battle.

  • At the same time Battleship Borodino, heading the Russian ship’s column,

  • passed the Japanese squadron on an opposite course

  • and approached the Russian cruisers that protected transport.

  • Aurora was part of the cruiser division headed by Rear Admiral Enqvist,

  • who received an order to cover the squadron transport ships.

  • Together with Cruiser Oleg, they joined the battle 40 minutes after it started:

  • when the transport ships were attacked by eight Japanese cruisers

  • and the old Battleship Zhenyuan

  • Our ships were caught in densely aimed fire from the adversary.

  • Hits followed one after another:

  • the explosion from an 8-inch high-explosive shell shook the whole cruiser.

  • Two guns were taken out of operationone in the battery room, and the other on the upper deck.

  • But despite all the damage, Aurora skillfully maneuvered at almost maximum speed,

  • battled with, and managed to break through the enemy's line.

  • they had high morale.

  • They were prepared for battle, for victory, and naturally willing to sacrifice themselves.

  • Japanese shells exploded nearby, and Aurora was pierced by shell fragments

  • During the battle, nine people were killed;

  • one of them was an officer, a ship commander,

  • and dozens of people were left injured

  • After 3 hours of battle, the line of the Russian squadron was heavily broken.

  • Badly wounded, Vice Admiral Rozhestvensky placed the squadron under the command

  • of Rear Admiral Nikolai Ivanovich Nebogatov.

  • Japanese Battle Division 1 headed by Mikasa was moving eastward along a parallel course

  • and was reaching the head of the Russian column again.

  • The final battle of the day was extremely dramatic

  • two Russian battleships were sunk one after another within 20 minutes

  • During their rotating maneuver, the Japanese ships fired all their shells,

  • using broadside guns and guns at the front and rear.

  • On the other hand, the Baltic fleet hardly managed to fire their front guns.

  • Thecircle attackof the Japanese fleet was so effectivethe opponent had no chance to escape.

  • The sun set, the battle was over.

  • The remaining squadron ships continued to move towards Vladivostok.

  • Auroraas part of cruiser divisionsailed to the left of the squadron’s main body along a parallel course,

  • in total darkness, with its lights turned off.

  • But Admiral Togo wasn't going to let the remaining Russian ships go...

  • If the Baltic fleet had reached the area around the Tsugaru Strait,

  • almost half of the fleet might have been able to escape into Vladivostok.

  • In this situation, the rest of the fleet would have conducted raiding

  • causing the annihilation of the Japanese army in Manchuria.

  • That’s why the Baltic fleet had to be completely destroyed.

  • For this reason, night attacks from the torpedo boats started after the daytime battles.

  • Using these tactics, and the power of Mikasa, Japan managed to defeat Russia.

  • On the following day, with the remaining ships shot down,

  • all hulls breached, and surrounded by the enemy's fleet,

  • Rear Admiral Nebogatov surrendered to Vice Admiral Togo.

  • Only four cruisers and three torpedo boats managed to escape the Tsushima trap.

  • Aurora was one of them:

  • countering torpedo boat attacks,

  • escaping 17 enemy torpedoes, the cruiser avoided being captured and sunk.

  • Losses for the forces after the Battle of Tsushima:

  • The Second Pacific Squadron of the Russian Empire:

  • 19 ships sank in the battle, 2 ships were blown up by their own crew

  • 5 ships and 2 hospital ships were captured by the adversary

  • Captured: 3 cruisers, 1 destroyer

  • 2 auxiliary vessels.

  • Broke through to Vladivostok:

  • 1 cruiser 2nd class (aviso)

  • 2 destroyers.

  • Out of 14,334 Russian seamen and officers,

  • 5,015 were dead,

  • 803 were injured, and 6,106 were captured.

  • Japanese Combined Fleet:

  • 3 torpedo boats sank 699 men were killed and injured.

  • After the Battle of Tsushima, the Russian fleet practically ceased to exist in the Pacific.

  • And soon a treaty of piece was signed, that was obviously unfavorable for the Russian Empire.

  • Since that time, 110 years have passed.

  • And there are only two ships left that participated in that dramatic battle

  • a Japanese and a Russian one.

  • Today, Mikasa and Aurora are not just monuments;

  • they are a history of the world’s shipbuilding

  • that you can touch in the truest sense of the word.

They were designed to be the best

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Naval Legends - Battle of Tsushima

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    噹噹 posted on 2016/02/03
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