Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Life in the Imperial Russian Navy before the defeat in the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese war

The Imperial Russian Navy was a fleet of proud traditions in the beginning of the 20th century. Consequently it prepared for and entered the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War - which was to end in a catastrophe both for Russia and its navy - in high spirits.

The Swedish popular magazine Allers Familj-Journal published several articles and photographs about life on board Russian Imperial Navy ships just before and during the early phases of the war. Below is a selection of photographs which illustrated the articles.

Some of the naval ships in the Imperial Russian Navy in 1904:

First class cruiser Askold, commissioned in 1900, was one of the newer ships in the Imperial Navy.
It had a max. speed of 23 kn. and the fire power of  twelve 15 cm cannons.

The cruiser Novik. 

The cruiser Rurik was built in 1892. It had a crew of 768, and carried four 20 cm,
 sixteen 15 cm and six 12 cm cannons.

Cruiser Pobeda was one of the largest ships in the Porth Arthur squadron. The Pobeda, which was
commissioned in 1900, carried four 25 cm and eleven 15 cm cannons.

The cruiser Rossija (built in 1896) had four 20 cm, sixteen 15 cm and twelve 7.5 cm
cannons. The number of the crew was 800.

A new Russian submarine is christened at the shipyard in Kronstadt.
First class cruiser Aurora (commissioned in 1900) of the Baltic Fleet was later to play a part in the Bolshevik revolution.

Preparation, training and leisure time on board: 

Learning to use the revolver cannon on the bridge.

"Sunday parade".

A modern 20 cm cannon on one of the Russian warships.

A pilot assisting in the navigation of a Russian naval vessel. 

An orthodox priest was part of the crew of each Russian navy ship.

Doctors and nurses on the Russian hospital ship Mongolia in Port Arthur.

Cleaning the hand weapons.

The guard is ready.

The entire crew is gathered on a festive occasion.

Captain von Essen, commander of the cruiser Novik, instructs the seamen in the use
of a revolver cannon.

Learning how to use hand weapons.

Captain von Essen (right side)playing a board game with admiral Makarov on board
the cruiser Novik, which later on was totally destroyed by the Japanese.

A family visit in the commander's cabin.

Nine playful Navy lieutenants.

Show your clean hands!

Russian naval officers dressed for a hunt.

The commander is also a photographer.

Less pleasant work on a Russian Imperial Navy ship sailing in cold Siberian waters.


  1. Hello,
    Hoping you can help me, or point me in the right direction. My name is Dan and I live in Alaska. I recently purchased a very interesting sterling silver cigarette case I believe is circa WWII or older and is associated with the Imperial Russian Navy.It is decorated with numerous interesting symbols (some in gold, jewels, etc. like a spider in a web, locket with photo, signal flags that spell LUBLU, and more bizarre embellishments.) Hoping to track down some info or someone who might be able to help with the Russian symbols and meanings. Would like to email some photos of this unique trinket if you're interested. Thanks in advance! Hope you can help. Dan

  2. Hello Dan,
    I suggest that you contact an expert on Russian antiquities. Your purchase may very well be rather valuable.

    Good luck - and Merry Christmas to you!