Russian monitor Novgorod
Popovkas Vice-Admiral Popov (left) and Novgorod (right) at Sevastopol
|Laid down:||17 December 1871|
|Launched:||21 May 1873|
|Decommissioned:||4 July 1903|
2,671 tons at full load
|Propulsion:||8 coal-fired boilers, 6 screws, 2,000 ihp|
The Novgorod (Russian: Новгород) was an Imperial Russian warship. It was one of the most unusual warships ever constructed, and still survives in popular naval myth, often described as the "ugliest warship ever built". Together with her near-sister ship Rear Admiral Popov, they were affectionately called "popovkas", after their chief designer. The hull was circular (viewed from the top) intended to be a particularly stable platform for guns but proving to be almost unmaneuverable in practice.
She was designed by Andrei Alexandrovich Popov of the Imperial Russian Navy, with the purpose of creating a stable platform armed with a few heavy guns, that could operate in coastal waters, and be well protected by armour plating.
The perceived advantage of the circular hull form was that a shallow-draught vessel could be built with a greater displacement; a small ship could then carry the same armament as a much larger vessel with a more typical hull form. For comparison, a 100-foot-long (30 m) by 13-foot-beam (4.0 m) and 13-foot-draught vessel would only displace about 2,500 tons.
The primary armament of Novgorod was two 26-ton 11-inch guns mounted on separate revolving turntables that could be moved independently or together. Recoil was suppressed by a hydraulic frictional compressor, and by wedges placed in the after part of their platforms.
The ship was driven by six engines each with its own propeller shaft. Boiler and engine rooms occupied fully half of the interior hull space. The boilers were placed in two separate compartments, one on either beam. Four steam launches were usually carried on deck.
Novgorod and her near-sister Rear Admiral Popov proved poorly designed in use. They pitched and rolled excessively, even in moderate seas. They were slow, maneuvered poorly, and were vulnerable to plunging fire. Worst was that the off-axis recoil of the guns would impart a centrifugal rotation to the ship. In operational use, these ships would have to throw their single rudder hard over during firing, to act as "water brakes". This severely restricted the aiming and rate-of-fire of the main guns. Both ships (dubbed 'popoffkas' after their designer) served in the Danube Flotilla during the Russo-Turkish War. Both were redesignated as "Coastal Defense Armor-Clad Ships" in 1892, and relegated as storeships in 1903. They were not scrapped until 1912.