Russian coast defense ship General Admiral Graf Apraksin

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RUS General-Admiral Graf Apraksin in 1902.jpg
The Russian coastal battleship General-Admiral Graf Apraksin, which later became the Japanese IJN Okinoshima
Career (Russia) Naval Ensign of Russia.svg
Name: General Admiral Graf Apraksin
Builder: New Admiralty Works, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Laid down: 24 October 1894
Launched: 12 May 1896
Commissioned: 1899
Struck: 28 May 1905
Status: prize of war to Japan
Career (Japan) Naval Ensign of Japan.svg
Name: Okinoshima
Acquired: 1905
Commissioned: 6 June 1905
Decommissioned: 1 April 1922
Fate: memorial ship
Status: scrapped Sept 1939
General characteristics
Class & type: Admiral Ushakov-class coastal defense ship
Displacement: 4,165 tons (normal); 4,270 tons (max)
Length: 80.62 m (264.5 ft) @ waterline
Beam: 15.85 m (52.0 ft)
Draught: 5.18 m (17.0 ft)
Propulsion: Two Shaft VTE steam engine, 6,000 shp (4,470 kW); 4 boilers
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h)
Range: 313 tons coal;
3,000 nautical miles (6,000 km) @ 10 knots (19 km/h)
Complement: 406
Armament:


  • 3 × 254 mm guns
  • 4 × 120 mm guns
  • 10 × 47 mm guns
  • 12 × 37 mm guns
  • 4 x 450 mm torpedoes
Armour:


  • belt 250 mm
  • deck 75 mm
  • turret 200mm

The General Admiral Graf Apraksin (Russian: Генерал-адмирал Апраксин), sometimes transliterated as Apraxin, was a member of the Admiral Ushakov-class coastal defense ships of the Imperial Russian Navy. She was named after General Admiral Fyodor Matveyevich Apraksin, the first commander of Russian Baltic Fleet. She was one of eight Russian pre-dreadnought battleships captured by the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. She subsequently served in the Japanese Navy as the Okinoshima (沖ノ島?) until removed from service in 1922.

She had only three guns (a single gun turret aft, as shown in the photograph), instead of her sister ships, which were equipped with four guns.

Russian service[edit]

In November 1899, shortly after entering service with the Baltic Fleet, Graf Apraksin ran aground on Hogland Island in the Gulf of Finland. It was hoped that she could be salvaged, as a similar incident in 1897 had cost the Russian Navy another battleship, the Gangut. The Apraksin's crew were ordered to remain aboard to maintain the ship as best they could when the Gulf froze over for the winter.

On the recommendation of radio pioneer A.S. Popov the ship's crew established a radio station on the island to maintain communication with the fleet's headquarters at Kronstadt (via a station at Kymi) in January 1900, after several weeks' delay. Meanwhile Rear-Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky was assigned to lead the salvage operations. The results of the grounding were such that attempting to tow Apraksin free would likely leave her irreparable and in danger of foundering, and instead Rozhestvensky employed a civilian mining corporation to remove the rocks holding Apraksin with small explosive charges. Assisting the salvage efforts was the icebreaker Yermak. Rozhestvensky initially had doubts as to the usefulness of Yermak, but she proved her value during the operation, which was successfully concluded in the first part of May. After Graf Apraksin was freed she was towed back to Kronstadt for the necessary repairs.[1]

Later, the Apraksin and her two sister ships, the Admiral Ushakov and the Admiral Seniavin were reclassed as coastal defence ships.

The Russo-Japanese War[edit]

The three Ushakovs were rejected for inclusion in the Second Pacific Squadron assembled by Admiral Rozhestvensky to reinforce the existing Russian squadron based at Port Arthur after the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War as Rozhestvensky felt they were unsuitable for such an extreme blue-water operation.[2] Nevertheless all three were selected to form part of Admiral Nebogatov's Third Pacific Squadron which was subsequently sent out to reinforce Rozhestvensky on his journey to the Far East after political agitation following his departure. The two Russian squadrons finally met and united at Cam Ranh Bay after a cruise that became known as the "Voyage of the Damned", and from there Rozhestvensky set course through the South China Sea towards the Korea Strait, where they were discovered by the Japanese.

At the resulting Battle of Tsushima (27–28 May 1905), the three ships survived the first phase of the engagement on the evening of 27 May largely due to the Japanese concentrating their efforts on Rozhestvensky's modern battleships (concentrated in the First and Second Divisions of the Russian squadron) and their subsequent almost-total destruction left the Russian fleet in tatters. Nebogatov's Third Division was largely able to keep itself together during the night, although the Apraksin's sister ship Admiral Ushakov strayed from formation and sunk by Japanese torpedoes. The morning of 28 May found the Russian survivors surrounded by an apparently undamaged Japanese force, and Nebogatov surrendered. Thus Apraksin and Admiral Seniavin were captured as prizes of war.[3]

Japanese service[edit]

Admiral Senyavin became the Mishima and General Admiral Graf Apraksin was commissioned into the Imperial Japanese Navy as the 2nd class Coastal Defense Vessel Okinoshima. Okinoshima was named for the small island of Munakata, Fukuoka Prefecture, which is the site of a famous Shinto shrine, and which is also geographically close to the location of the Battle of Tsushima.

Okinoshima was part of the Japanese Second Fleet at the outbreak of the First World War, participating in the Battle of Tsingtao against the small number of German ships left behind by Admiral von Spee's East Asia Squadron.

On 1 April 1921, Okinoshima was re-classified as a submarine tender. Okinoshima was decommissioned on 1 April 1922 and was sold as scrap in 1924 to a private firm, which transformed her into a memorial ship located at Tsuyazaki, Fukuoka, commemorating the Japanese victory at the Battle of Tsushima. The memorial ship was severely damaged in storms in 1939, and scrapped shortly thereafter.

The battleship Okinoshima should not be confused with the Pacific War era minelayer of the same name.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Constantine Pleshakov, The Tsar's Last Armada, pp. 50-51.
  2. ^ Captain Peter Hore, Battleships, p. 115.
  3. ^ Eric Grove, Big Fleet Actions, pp. 29-45.

References[edit]

  • Burt, R.A. Japanese Battleships, 1897–1945. 
  • Gibbons, Tony. The Complete Encyclopedia of Battleships and Battlecruisers. 
  • Grove, Eric (1998). Big Fleet Actions. London: Brockhampton Press. 
  • Hore, Peter (2005). Battleships. Anness Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-7548-1407-6. 
  • Jentsura, Hansgeorg (1976). Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-893-X. 
  • Pleshakov, Constantine (2002). The Tsar's Last Armada: The Epic Voyage to the Battle of Tsushima. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-05792-6. 
  • Schencking, J. Charles (2005). Making Waves: Politics, Propaganda, And The Emergence Of The Imperial Japanese Navy, 1868-1922. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-4977-9. 

External links[edit]