Russian battleship Borodino
Borodino at Kronstadt, August 1904
|Namesake:||Battle of Borodino|
|Builder:||New Admiralty Shipyard, Saint Petersburg|
|Laid down:||23 May 1900[Note 1]|
|Launched:||8 September 1901|
|In service:||August 1904|
|Fate:||Sunk at the Battle of Tsushima, 27 May 1905|
|Class and type:||Borodino-class pre-dreadnought battleship|
|Displacement:||14,091 long tons (14,317 t)|
|Length:||397 ft (121.0 m)|
|Beam:||76 ft 1 in (23.2 m)|
|Draft:||29 ft 2 in (8.9 m)|
|Propulsion:||2 shafts, 2 Triple-expansion steam engines|
|Speed:||18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)|
|Range:||2,590 nmi (4,800 km; 2,980 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)|
Borodino (Russian: Бородино) was the lead ship of her class of pre-dreadnought battleships built for the Imperial Russian Navy although she was the second ship of her class to be completed. Named after the 1812 Battle of Borodino, the ship was completed after the beginning of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904. Borodino was assigned to the Second Pacific Squadron sent to the Far East a few months after her completion to break the Japanese blockade of Port Arthur. The Japanese captured the port while the squadron was in transit and their destination was changed to Vladivostok. The ship was sunk during the Battle of Tsushima on 27 May 1905 due to explosions set off by a Japanese shell hitting a 6-inch (152 mm) magazine. There was only one survivor from her crew of 855 officers and enlisted men.
Borodino was 389 feet 5 inches (118.7 m) long at the waterline and 397 feet (121.0 m) long overall, with a beam of 76 feet 1 inch (23.2 m) and a draft of 29 feet 2 inches (8.9 m), 38 inches (965 mm) more than designed. Her normal displacement was 14,091 long tons (14,317 t), over 500 long tons (508 t) more than her designed displacement of 13,516 long tons (13,733 t). Her intended crew consisted of 28 officers and 754 enlisted men, although she usually carried 826–46 crewmen in service.
The ship was powered by two four-cylinder vertical triple-expansion steam engines, each driving one three-bladed propeller, using steam generated by 20 Belleville boilers. Unlike her sisters, the engines and boilers were both built by the Franco-Russian Works and the boilers provided steam to the engines at a pressure of 19 standard atmospheres (1,925 kPa; 279 psi). The engines were rated at 16,300 indicated horsepower (12,200 kW) and designed to reach a top speed of 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph). They produced, however, only 15,012 ihp (11,194 kW) on her builder's sea trials on 23 August 1904 and gave an average speed of 16.2 knots (30.0 km/h; 18.6 mph). At full load she carried 1,350 long tons (1,372 t) of coal that provided her a range of 2,590 nautical miles (4,800 km; 2,980 mi) at a speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph).
Borodino's 40-caliber 12-inch guns were mounted in two twin-turrets, one each fore and aft. They had a rate of fire of about one round per 90 seconds. Sixty rounds per gun were carried. The twelve 45-caliber 6-inch (152 mm) guns were mounted in six electrically powered twin-gun turrets carried on the upper deck. They had a practical rate of fire of approximately three rounds per minute and were provided with 180 rounds per gun. Four of the twenty 75-millimeter (3.0 in) guns used against torpedo boats were mounted in casemates just below the forward main gun turret, two on each side. These guns were placed well above the waterline for use in any weather, unlike the remaining sixteen guns, which were mounted in casemates one deck lower and distributed over the length of the ship, close to the water. The unsuitability of the lower deck guns was graphically demonstrated when Borodino's sister ship Imperator Aleksander III made a high-speed turn during her trials, heeling 15°, and began taking water through the lower casemates. Each gun had 300 rounds available. The ship also mounted twenty 47-millimeter (1.9 in) Hotchkiss guns for anti-torpedo boat defense. Borodino carried four 15-inch (381 mm) torpedo tubes, one each above water in the bow and in the stern, and a submerged tube on each side forward.
The ship's waterline armor belt consisted of Krupp armor and was 5.7–7.64 inches (145–194 mm) thick. The armor of her gun turrets had a maximum thickness of 10 in (254 mm) and her deck ranged from 1 to 2 inches (25 to 51 mm) in thickness. The 1.5-inch (38 mm) armored lower deck curved downwards to her double bottom and formed an anti-torpedo bulkhead.
Construction began on Borodino, named after the Battle of Borodino in 1812, on 26 May 1899 at the New Admiralty Shipyard in Saint Petersburg. The ship was laid down on 23 May 1900 in the presence of Tsar Nicholas II, and launched on 8 September 1901. She was completed in August 1904 at the cost of 14,573,000 rubles.
On 15 October 1904, Borodino set sail for Port Arthur from Libau along with the other vessels of the Second Pacific Squadron, under the overall command of Vice Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky. Rozhestvensky led his squadron, including Borodino, down the Atlantic coast of Africa, rounding Cape Horn, and reached the island of Nosy Be off the north-west coast of Madagascar on 9 January 1905 where they remained for two months while Rozhestvensky finalized his coaling arrangements. During this time, Rozhestvensky learned of the capture of Port Arthur and changed his destination to Vladivostok, the only other port controlled by the Russians in the Far East. The squadron sailed for Camranh Bay, French Indochina, on 16 March and reached it almost a month later to await the obsolete ships of the 3rd Pacific Squadron, commanded by Rear Admiral Nikolai Nebogatov. The latter ships reached Camranh Bay on 9 May and the combined force sailed for Vladivostok on 14 May. While exact figures are not available for Borodino, it is probable that the ship was approximately 1,700 long tons (1,700 t) overweight as she and her sisters were overloaded with coal and other supplies; all of which was stored high in the ships and reduced their stability. The extra weight also submerged the waterline armor belt and left only about 4 feet 6 inches (1.4 m) of the upper armor belt above the waterline.
Rozhestvensky decided to take the most direct route to Vladivostok using the Tsushima Strait and was intercepted by the Japanese battlefleet under the command of Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō on 27 May 1905. At the beginning of the battle, Borodino was third in line behind Rozhestvensky's flagship, Knyaz Suvorov. Very little is known of the ship's actions during the battle as there was only a single survivor from the ship and visibility was poor for most of the battle, but Captain W. C. Pakenham, the Royal Navy's official military observer aboard the Japanese battleship Asahi under the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, noted that she was hit badly around 14:30, some 25 minutes after Russian ships opened fire. Borodino briefly fell out of her position after that hit, but apparently regained it by 14:50. By this time, she had a serious fire on the central portion of her superstructure.
Knyaz Suvorov suffered multiple hits early in the battle, some of which wounded Rozhestvensky and jammed the ship's steering so that she fell out of formation. Around 16:00, Borodino's captain, Petr Serebrennikov, now de facto commander of the fleet, turned Borodino south and led the Russian fleet out of sight. As Japanese cruisers closed in at around 17:05, he turned the fleet north to avoid them, but encountered the Japanese battleships an hour later. They concentrated their fire on Borodino and her sister, Imperator Aleksander III, both of which had lists from earlier damage. Captain Pakenham noted a conspicuous hit on Borodino at 18:57 and she was observed to be on fire at 19:04 by observers aboard Tōgō's flagship Mikasa. Pakenham observed two 12-inch hits by the battleship Shikishima at 19:18 that started a massive fire. Ten minutes later, after Tōgō ordered his ships to cease fire and disengage, the battleship Fuji fired her already-loaded 12-inch guns before turning away. One of these hit Borodino beneath her starboard forward six-inch turret and ignited the ready-use ammunition in the turret. The fire spread and caused a catastrophic detonation in a nearby 6-inch magazine. Subsequent detonations of other magazines blew open her hull and the ship quickly capsized and sank. Only one crewman, Seaman First Class Semyon Yushin, survived the explosion from her crew of 855, being rescued after surviving for twelve hours in the water.
- All dates used in this article are New Style
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