Russian monitor Russalka
|This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Russian Wikipedia. (January 2009)|
|This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Estonian Wikipedia. (January 2009)|
|Builder:||Saint Petersburg, Russia|
|Launched:||31 August 1867|
|Fate:||Sank in the Gulf of Finland, 7 September 1893|
|Displacement:||1,871 long tons (1,901 t)|
|Length:||62.3 m (204 ft 5 in)|
|Beam:||12.8 m (42 ft)|
|Draught:||3.3 m (10 ft 10 in)|
|Propulsion:||Steam engine, 705 hp (526 kW)|
|Speed:||9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph)|
|Armament:||• 2 × 230 mm (9 in) guns
• 8 × 87 mm (3.4 in) guns
• 5 × 37 mm (1.5 in) guns
The Russalka (also Rusalka, Russian: Русалка, mermaid), was an ironclad monitor of the Imperial Russian Navy, built in St. Petersburg in 1865-1867. She was 204 feet long, had a beam of 42 feet, and carried armament of various calibers; her heaviest guns were two nine-inch cannon.
The ironclad was on active service with the Russian Navy in the Baltic Sea from 1867 until she sank in the Gulf of Finland on 7 September 1893, while steaming from Reval (Estonian: Tallinn) to Helsingfors (Finnish: Helsinki). (Both Estonia and Finland were at that time part of the Russian Empire.) All 177 of her crew were lost.
Loss of the Rusalka
Rusalka sailed from Reval (Tallinn) harbor at 08:30. She was escorted by the gunship Tucha (Russian: Туча, cloud) under commanding officer Lushkov (Russian: Лушков), as monitors of that type were not seaworthy in high seas. Weather about 10:00 deteriorated into storm, with gale force winds and rain; Tucha lost her charge from sight but sailed on leaving her behind and arrived safely at Helsingfors at 15:00. There was no sign of the Rusalka but Lushkov notified nobody of these proceedings.
The alarm about the ship missing was not raised until late in the evening of September the 9th, when lighthouse warden notified police about the corpse of a sailor and the lifeboat wreckage washed ashore discovered by fishermen on Sandhamn (Finnish: Santahamina) isle of Sveaborg (Finnish: Suomenlinna) archipelago, and news filtered through the "proper channels" to naval authorities.
The search for the Rusalka, in which fifteen ships took part, lasted for 37 days, until October 16th, when it was suspended due to the increasing cold and winter storms. Nothing was found.
In June and August 1894, further attempts were made to search for the sunken warship using a towed balloon for observers, but they found nothing, and on August 15th, 1894 the search was officially recalled.
Cause of the sinking
Rusalka was due to leave port at dawn, around 07:30, which should have given her time to reach Helsingfors by noon, however her sailing was delayed by the late arrival of her Master. Despite the worsening weather, she was ordered to proceed.
An examination of the wreckage showed no signs of an explosion. It was therefore assumed that heavy seas breaking over the ship could have entered the hatches into the interior of the ship, as these had been negligently secured, causing the ship to lose power, making it difficult to maintain its heading. Whatever the cause, Rusalka obviously broached and sank.
On 28-30 January 1894 a court of inquiry was held, in which the commanding Admiral Burachek (Russian: Бурачек) was officially reprimanded, and the Senior Captain was dismissed from the service.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Rusalka Memorial|
On 7 September 1902, the ninth anniversary of the loss of the ship, a monument to the Rusalka was erected in Tallinn. Sculpted by Amandus Adamson it takes the form of a bronze angel standing on a granite pedestal.
The Rusalka remained undiscovered until 1933 when it was found by EPRON military divers. It was discovered again by July 2003, when she was rediscovered by sonar in the Gulf of Finland, 25 kilometres (13 nmi) south of Helsinki. The ironclad's wreck was discovered in an unusual position. Following her foundering, the vessel plunged directly into the muddy bottom of the gulf bow first, and fixed herself in that position. The stern of the lost vessel rises 108 feet (33 meters) above the sea bed.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Turret armour-clad boat Rusalka|
- Башенная броненосная лодка "Русалка" (Russian)