Battle of Sinop

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Battle of Sinop
Part of the Crimean War
Battle of Sinop.jpg
The Battle of Sinop, by Ivan Aivazovsky. Oil on Canvas.
Date 30 November 1853 (18 November O.S.)
Location Sinop, Ottoman Empire
Result Decisive Russian victory
Russia Russian Empire  Ottoman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Russian Empire Pavel Nakhimov Ottoman Empire Osman Pasha
Ottoman Empire Adolphus Slade
6 ships of the line,
2 frigates,
3 steamers
unknown land forces
7 frigates,
3 corvettes,
2 steamers
Casualties and losses
37 killed,
233 wounded,
~3 ships of the line damaged
~3,000 killed or wounded,
1 frigate sunk,
1 steamer sunk,
6 frigates grounded,
3 corvettes grounded,
~2 shore batteries destroyed
Russian stamp, Battle of Sinop, 2003 (Michel № 1128, Scott № 6800)

The Battle of Sinop, or the Battle of Sinope, took place on 30 November 1853 at Sinop, a sea port in northern Anatolia, when Imperial Russian warships struck and annihilated a patrol force of Ottoman ships anchored in the harbor. The battle was part of the Crimean War, and a contributory factor in bringing France and Britain into the conflict.


The Battle of Sinop was a direct result of the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire and the loss of Ottoman force projection into the Black Sea. By 1850, the Ottoman Empire was deeply in debt and relied exclusively on British and French loans as a means of support. As a result, Ottoman leaders had no choice but to agree to drastic force reductions in both Army and Navy force tables. By 1853, Tsar Nicholas I saw the reductions as an opportunity to press Russian claims in the Trans-Cacasus and along the Danube River. In July 1853, Russian forces occupied several Ottoman principalities along the Danube, as well as forts. When mediation broke down Sultan Abdul Mejd I responded with a declaration of war. Fearing Russian expansion, the Anglo-French issued a concurrent ultimatum: Russia was to fight only defensively. As long as Russia stayed on the defensive the Anglo-French would remain neutral, but if Russia acted "aggressively" the Western Powers reserved the right to get involved.

Hostilites began officially on 4 October, with a principal theater in Europe and another in the Caucasus. Sultan Mejd ordered an immediate offensive to drive back the Russians and demonstrate Ottoman might before Ottoman finances totally collapsed. The offensive along the Danube met with mixed success, but the Ottoman attack into the Russian Cacasus was relatively successful. By the end of October, the Russian Cacasus Corps was in danger of being surrounded.

To support the attack and properly supply his forces before significant snowfall, Mejd ordered a squadron of frigates, steamers and transports to establish a supply corridor to the Ottoman Army in Georgia. Unable to interdict the convoy, Russian Naval elements remained in Sevastopol. Mejd ordered a second convoy commanded by Osman Pasha, but by this time it was late November and the fleet was forced to seek winter quarters. The fleet ended up at Sinope, joining the frigate Kaid Zafer which had been part of an earlier patrol, and being joined by the steam frigate Taif from a smaller squadron. The Ottomans had wanted to send ships of the line to Sinope, but the British ambassador in Constantinople, Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, had objected to this plan, and only frigates were sent.

Initial Ottoman activity in the Black Sea had been allowed to proceed unhindered, but as the situation of the Russian Caucasus Corps deteriorated St. Petersberg was forced to act. Admiral Pavel Duero Nakhimov was ordered to muster the Russian Navy and interdict the Ottomans. From 1 to 23 November, Russian squadrons were dispatched into the Black Sea to establish control of the sea. Two Ottoman steamers, the Medzhir Tadzhiret and the Pervaz Bahri, were captured by the Russians in short engagements. Russia was able to establish operational control of the sea lanes but storms forces Nakhimov to send back most of his force for repair. Left with only a frigate, a steamer and three ships of the line, Nakhimov continued the search for Osman and the convoy. On 23 November Osman's flag was sighted returning and then entering the harbor at Sinope. Nakhimov immediately deployed his ships into a blockade and sent his only frigate to retrieve as many reinforcements as could be found.

On 30 November, Vice Admiral Novosiliski rallied 6 more ships to Nakhimov, completing the blocade force in a loose semi-circle. Additional steamers were expected, but Nakhimov decided to act before the Ottomans could be reinforced by additional ships. Osman for his part had been well aware of the Russian presence since 23 November, but felt his ships were safe in harbor. Sinope had substantial harbor defenses and forts with interlocking fields of fire and ample cannon. Moreover, is was technically against the established rules of war to attack ships at anchor or for upper class ships to attack ships of a lower class and displacement. In a stunning command decision, Osman did little to break the weak Russian blockade, even allowing many of his crews to disembark.


Russian Admiral Pavel Nakhimov, hero of Battle of Sinop and Siege of Sevastopol
Aivasovsky Ivan Constantinovich sinop 1853

The Russians were led by Admiral Pavel Nakhimov, who decided with his officers that they would attack the Ottoman fleet which took shelter from a storm at Sinop.[1] Strengthened by the squadron of Rear-Admiral Fyodor Novosilsky, Nakhimov consolidated over 700 cannons in six ships of the line, two frigates and three armed steamers. The Ottoman forces included seven frigates, three corvettes and two armed steamers. The Russians planned to deploy their ships in two columns where they would advance to within close range of the enemy vessels before dropping anchor and opening fire. Under Admiral Nakhimov's command, the eighty-four gun ship Imperatritsa Maria was the first to engage when she fired on the forty-four gun Ottoman flagship Auni Allah. After about thirty minutes of deadly combat the Ottoman frigate was full of shot-holes and ran aground when her cable was cut. Imperatritsa Maria then attacked the forty-four gun frigate Fazli Allah which caught fire and grounded. Meanwhile, the other Russian ships engaged the Nizamie and Damiad, which were grounded. The Ottoman frigate Navek Bakhri exploded and sank along with the corvette Guli Sephid. Only one Ottoman vessel, the twelve gun steamer Taif, managed to escape the battle while all the others were either sunk or purposely run ashore to prevent sinking. She fled to Constantinople and arrived on 2 December where she informed the Ottoman government of the defeat at Sinop. Once the enemy fleet was destroyed the Russians engaged Ottoman shore batteries and destroyed them. During the fighting a reported 37 Russians were killed and 233 were wounded, although one source says that a total of 266 Russian officers and crewmen perished;[2] at least three of the ships of the line were damaged. Ottoman forces lost over 3,000 men killed or wounded and their leader Osman Pasha was captured.


The attack was seen by external powers as unjustified, as it was believed that Russia had no need to fear the Ottomans. It was referred to in the British press as the 'Massacre of Sinope', and caused a wave of anti-Russian sentiment in Western Europe.[3]

The attack strengthened the pro-war factions in Britain and France, and provided them with the justification for declaring war on Russia in early 1854 in support of the Ottoman Empire.

Order of battle[edit]

Russian Empire[edit]

  • Veliky Knyaz Konstantin, ship of the line, 120 guns
  • Tri Sviatitelia, ship of the line, 120 guns
  • Parizh, 120 guns, ship of the line, transferred flagship
  • Imperatriitsa Maria, ship of the line, 84 guns, flagship
  • Chesma, ship of the line, 84 guns
  • Rostislav, ship of the line, 84 guns
  • Kulevtcha, frigate, 54 guns
  • Kagul, frigate, 44 guns
  • Odessa, steamer, 4 guns
  • Krym, steamer, 4 guns
  • Khersones, steamer, 4 guns

Ottoman Empire[edit]

Drawing of Sinope by George Tryon onboard HMS Vengeance which visited the scene of the battle in January 1854.
  • Avni Illah, frigate, 44 guns (grounded)
  • Fazl Illah, frigate, 44 guns (originally the Russian Rafail, captured during the war of 1828-29) (burned, grounded)
  • Nizamieh, frigate, 62 guns (grounded after losing two masts)
  • Nessin Zafer, frigate, 60 guns (grounded after her anchor chain broke)
  • Navek Bahri, frigate, 58 guns (exploded)
  • Damiat, frigate, 56 guns (Egyptian) (grounded)
  • Kaid Zafer, frigate, 54 guns (grounded)
  • Nejm Fishan, corvette, 24 guns
  • Feyz Mabud, corvette, 24 guns (grounded)
  • Kel Safid, corvette, 22 guns (exploded)
  • Taif, steamer, 12 guns (retreated to Istanbul)
  • Erkelye, steamer, 10 guns


  • Istanbul Naval Museum k.
  • Naval wars in the Levant 1559–1853 (1952) - R. C. Anderson ISBN 1-57898-538-2
  • BAŞ,Ersan:Çeşme, Navarin, Sinop Baskınları ve Sonuçları (Cesme, Navarin, Sinop Rates and Results) Türk Deniz Harp Tarihinde İz Bırakan Gemiler, Olaylar ve Şahıslar Sayı: 8, Piri Reis Araştırma Merkezi Yayını, Deniz Basımevi, 2007, İstanbul, ISBN 975-409-452-7.

External links[edit]