- Nekrasov, G., Commander, RAN
- WWI operations
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- September 1976 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
ON THE 25TH APRIL 1915 ANZAC troops stormed ashore at Gallipoli – and established a new tradition.
The objective of that operation was to force Turkey out of the war, establish a short supply route to Russia and speed up the collapse of the German-Austrian-Turkish Alliance.
North of Gallipoli lay the Bosphorus and the Black Sea. We are all familiar with the Gallipoli Campaign, but there is little knowledge of what went on in the Black Sea, either in the West or even in Soviet literature. The material for this article was taken in large parts from the writings of the former Imperial Russian Navy Officers, published in the West. I believe there are some lessons to be learned from what went on in the Black Sea.
In the X-XII centuries the Black Sea (BS) was the scene of lively trade and fighting between Byzantium and the Russians. A product of this love-hate relationship was the adoption by the Russians of the Greek Orthodox faith.
Following the conquest of the Russians by the hordes of Genghis Khan, and later, conquest of the Byzantines by the Turks, the Black Sea became a Turkish lake. In the XVII Century Russian expansion reached the Black Sea again and from the Battle of Kewakeur in 1720 until the Crimean War the Black Sea was almost a Russian lake. After this war it became once again a Turkish lake, as the Treaty of Paris barred Russia from having a Navy in the Black Sea. Russia unilaterally abrogated this treaty clause during the war with Turkey in 1877. This Russian act was not recognised by France or Britain.
The Black Sea Fleet was re-established and maintained at a level to give it a slight advantage over the Turks – but no more than that. This fleet was confined to the Black Sea as it could not pass the straits. This led to a very much resented inactivity during the War with Japan in 1904 and the morale problem that this created culminated in the well-known mutiny in the battleship Potemkin.
The great dreadnought building race added to the problems of the Black Sea Fleet. Russian ships had to be built on that sea, yet Turkey had ordered two Dreadnoughts in Britain. – the Rashadieh of 22,780 tons (10 x 13.5”) and Sultan Osman I of 27,500 tons armed with no less than 14 x 12” guns. In response the Russian Duma authorised the construction of four Dreadnoughts on the Black Sea.
There were, however, no shipyards capable of building them. In 1912 two keels were laid down in a paddock near Nikilayev and the construction of the ships progressed alongside the construction of the shipyard.
Lesson No. 1: Where there is a will there is a way.