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Russian battleship Dvenadsat Apostolov

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Dvenadsat Apostolov at anchor, Sevastopol
Class overview
Name: Dvenadsat Apostolov
Operators:  Imperial Russian Navy
Preceded by: Imperator Aleksandr II class
Succeeded by: Navarin
Built: 1888–1892
In commission: 1892–1911
Planned: 2
Completed: 1
Cancelled: 1
Scrapped: 1
Russian Empire
Name: Dvenadsat Apostolov (Двенадцать Апостолов)
Namesake: Twelve Apostles
Operator: Imperial Russian Navy
Ordered: 12 November 1887
Builder: Nikolayev Admiralty Dockyard
Laid down: 21 August 1889
Launched: 13 September 1890
Commissioned: December 1892
Decommissioned: 1 April 1911
Renamed: Blokshiv No. 8 4 September 1914
Fate: Sold for scrap, 28 January 1931
General characteristics
Type: Pre-dreadnought battleship
Displacement: 8,710 long tons (8,850 t)
Length: 342 ft (104.2 m)
Beam: 60 ft (18.3 m)
Draught: 27 ft 6 in (8.4 m)
Installed power:
Propulsion: 2 shafts; 2 triple-expansion steam engines
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Complement: 599
  • 2 × 2 – 12-inch (305 mm) guns
  • 4 × 1 – 6-inch (152 mm) guns
  • 12 × 1 – 47-millimetre (1.9 in) guns
  • 10 × 1 – 37-millimetre (1.5 in) guns
  • 6 × 1 – 15-inch (381 mm) torpedo tubes

Dvenadsat Apostolov (Russian: Двенадцать Апостолов—"Twelve Apostles") was a pre-dreadnought battleship built for the Imperial Russian Navy, the sole ship of her class. She served in the Black Sea Fleet and was built by Nikolayev Admiralty Dockyard. Laid down in February 1888,[Note 1] and launched in September 1890, she was commissioned in December 1892. She became an immobile submarine depot ship in 1912 after she was decommissioned and disarmed the previous year. She was captured by the Germans in 1918 in Sevastopol and was handed over to the Allies in December 1918. Lying immobile in Sevastopol, she was captured by both sides in the Russian Civil War before permanently falling into the hands of the Soviets when the White Russians evacuated the Crimea. She was used as a stand-in for the title ship during the filming of The Battleship Potemkin and was finally scrapped in 1931.


Dvenadsat Apostolov was originally ordered as one of a pair of battleships for the Black Sea Fleet, but the second ship was awarded to a firm on the verge of bankruptcy and they made no significant progress. Her initial armament was planned to be eight 9-inch (230 mm) guns, four in two twin-gun turrets and four in the central casemate. However, the final form of the turrets and machinery layout was not decided upon, even after construction of the hull began in early 1888. The following September the Naval Technical Committee decided to increase the thickness of the waterline armour belt from 13 inches (330 mm) to 14 inches (356 mm) at the cost of 75 long tons (76 t). It also decided to move the forward turret back 7 feet 8 inches (2.3 m) because it thought that the ship might be bow-heavy. They also decided against the original armament and fixed on four 12-inch (305 mm) guns in twin-gun barbettes at each end of the ship with four 6-inch (150 mm) guns in a shortened central battery, although it added over 100 long tons (100 t) of additional weight to the ship.[1]

General characteristics[edit]

She was 335 feet 6 inches (102.3 m) long at the waterline and 342 feet (104.2 m) long overall. She had a beam of 60 feet (18.3 m) and a draft of 27 feet 6 inches (8.4 m). Her exact displacement was never measured, but has been estimated at 8,710 long tons (8,850 t), over 600 long tons (610 t) more than her designed displacement of 8,076 long tons (8,206 t).[2]

Her hull was generally similar to that of the Imperator Aleksandr II class although her ram was 4 feet (1.2 m) longer. It was subdivided by eleven transverse and one centreline longitudinal watertight bulkheads and she had a complete double bottom 35.4 inches (900 mm) deep. She had a metacentric height of 2.62 feet (0.80 m). She demonstrated better seagoing qualities than the older Ekaterina II class during a storm in October 1894, although she rolled badly and leaked through her ports and hatches.[3] She was assessed as a considerably better fighting ship that the Imperator Aleksandr II class.[4]


Dvenadsat Apostolov had two 3-cylinder vertical triple expansion steam engines built by Baltic Works and had a total designed output of 8,500 indicated horsepower (6,338 kW).[5] Eight cylindrical boilers, four single-ended and four double-ended, provided steam to the engines, which drove two 5.26-metre (17 ft) screw propellers.[6] On trials, the powerplant produced 8,758 ihp (6,531 kW) and a top speed of 15.15 knots (28.06 km/h; 17.43 mph). After her initial engine trials her funnels were raised by 12 ft 6 in (3.81 m) to improve their draft and to keep the superstructure clear of funnel gases. She carried 710 long tons (720 t) of coal at full load that provided a range of 1,900 nautical miles (3,500 km; 2,200 mi) at a speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). She had six Siemens dynamos with a total output of 540 kW.[7]


Plan and side view diagram with the main guns labeled 'A' and the secondary guns as 'D'

The main armament of Dvenadsat Apostolov were two pairs of 12-inch (305 mm) Obukhov Model 1877 30-caliber guns mounted in twin barbette mounts forward and aft. They had a maximum elevation of 15° and could depress to −5° and could traverse 270°. 66 rounds per gun were carried.[2] They fired a 731.3-pound (331.7 kg) shell at a muzzle velocity of 1,870 ft/s (570 m/s) to a range of 5,570 yards (5,090 m) at an elevation of 6°.[8] The rate of fire was one round every five minutes, but the loading machinery would not work if the ship was heeled more than 5°.[3]

The four 6-inch (152 mm) Model 1877 35-caliber guns were mounted on pivot mounts in the central casemate. The sides of the hull were recessed to give them axial fire. They could traverse a total of 100°. Each gun had an arc of fire of 130°. The ship carried 130 rounds for each gun.[3] The guns could elevate to a maximum of 8.5° and depress to −8°. They fired a 'heavy' shell that weighed 119–123.5 lb (54.0–56.0 kg) at a velocity of 1,896 ft/s (578 m/s) or a 'light' shell that weighed 91.5 lb (41.5 kg) with a muzzle velocity of 2,329 ft/s (710 m/s). A 'light' shell had a maximum range of 8,170 yards (7,470 m) when fired at an elevation of 12°, although the casemate only permitted a maximum elevation of 8.5°. The guns could fire one round per minute.[9]

Her ten 47-millimetre (1.9 in) Hotchkiss guns were mounted in embrasures in the hull or superstructure. They fired a 3.3-pound (1.5 kg) shell at a muzzle velocity of 1,476 ft/s (450 m/s) at a rate of 20 rounds per minute to a range of 2,020 yards (1,850 m).[10] Two 37-millimetre (1.5 in) Hotchkiss revolving cannon were mounted at the forward end of the superstructure and two on the platform just abaft the second funnel. They fired a 1.1-pound (0.50 kg) shell at a muzzle velocity of 1,450 ft/s (440 m/s) at a rate of 32 rounds per minute to a range of 3,038 yards (2,778 m).[11] Six single-barrelled versions, with a rate of fire of only twenty rounds per minute, were carried in the fighting top on the foremast and two were in small embrasures at the after end of the superstructure. The location of the other two guns is unknown.[3]

Dvenadsat Apostolov carried six above-water 15 in (381 mm) torpedo tubes. One tube was in the bow, two tubes on each broadside and a tube in the stern.[12]


Compound armour was supplied by Charles Cammell of Sheffield, England and comprised the bulk of the armour used in Dvenadsat Apostolov. The main waterline belt had a maximum thickness of 14 inches (356 mm) abreast the machinery spaces, but thinned to 12 inches abreast the magazine and was only 7–8 inches (178–203 mm) thick at its lower edge. It was 228 feet 8 inches (70 m) long and 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m) high, most of which (4 ft 3 in (1.30 m)) was below the waterline as actually completed because she was overweight. The belt tapered to eight inches at the lower edge. Bulkheads nine to twelve inches thick provided transverse protection for the ship's vitals. The lower casemate armour was 214 feet (65 m) long and twelve inches thick. Above it was the casemate armour for the six-inch guns that consisted of 5 inches (127 mm) of steel armour. The barbette armour was 10–12 inches (254–305 mm) thick. Initially the barbette was open-topped, but a 2.5-inch (64 mm) thick protective hood was added later, possibly in 1893. The conning tower had eight-inch sides of steel armour.[12]


Dvenadsat Apostolov was built by the Nikolayev Admiralty Dockyard at Nikolayev. She was laid down on 21 August 1889, launched on 13 September 1890, and sailed to Sevastopol for fitting out on 11 May 1892. She joined the fleet on 17 June 1893, but she was not fully ready for service until 1894.[13] In 1895 she was used to test a new system of laying mines by rails that had been invented by Lieutenant A. P. Ygrumov and also to evaluate the proper dimensions for anti-torpedo nets and their booms. For this last test torpedoes were fired at the ship with the anti-torpedo nets deployed.[14] One gun, of an unknown calibre, burst in 1903, killing one man and wounding two others.

Dvenadsat Apostolov in drydock at Sevastopol, 1905

Dvenadsat Apostolov participated in the failed attempt to recapture the mutinous battleship Potemkin on 30 June 1905.[15] She attempted to ram Potemkin but sailors sympathetic to the mutiny reversed the engines and then prevented an attempt by Captain Kolands to blow his own ship by severing the detonating wires.[16]

The Naval Technical Committee proposed to reboiler her in 1907 with new Belleville water-tube boilers, but this was forestalled by a plan to reuse those of the Chesma. Simultaneously a proposal to rearm her with four ten-inch guns in two turrets and several 6-inch guns in a new casemate was made by the Naval General Staff. This was estimated to cost 1,275,000 roubles and would only add 15 long tons (15 t) to her displacement, but both proposals were rejected by the Naval Technical Committee which believed it was a waste of money given her obsolete layout. The General Staff made another proposal in 1909 to rearm her as with smaller guns as a guardship intended to defend Sevastopol from attacks by enemy light forces. This was initially approved by the Navy Minister, Admiral Ivan Grigorovich in June 1909, but this was later reversed.[17]

Dvenadsat Apostolov was transferred to the Sevastopol Port Authority on 1 April 1911,[15] stricken from the Navy List and disarmed on 15 April. She became a depot ship for submarines in 1912.[6] Renamed as Blokshiv (hulk) No. 8 on 4 September 1914, she was used on various harbour duties. Immobile, she was captured by the Germans in Sevastopol in May 1918 and handed over to the Allies in December 1918. She was captured by both sides during the Russian Civil War, but was abandoned by the White Russians when they evacuated the Crimea.[15] Her machinery was removed in 1921.[6] She was used as a stand-in for the Potemkin during the filming of The Battleship Potemkin, while reportedly serving as a mine storage hulk, before she was sold for scrap on 28 January 1931.[15]


  1. ^ All dates used in this article are New Style


  1. ^ McLaughlin, pp. 47–48
  2. ^ a b McLaughlin, pp. 46, 48
  3. ^ a b c d McLaughlin, p. 48
  4. ^ Gardiner, p. 179
  5. ^ McLaughlin, p. 46
  6. ^ a b c Arbazov, p. 388
  7. ^ McLaughlin, pp. 49, 52
  8. ^ "Russian 12"/30 (30.5 cm) Pattern 1877". NavWeaps. 10 May 2006. Retrieved 22 December 2009. 
  9. ^ "Russian 6"/35 (15.2 cm) Pattern 1877 152 mm/35 (6") Pattern 1877". NavWeaps. 11 September 2006. Retrieved 22 December 2009. 
  10. ^ "Russia 47 mm/5 (1.85") Hotchkiss gun 47 mm/1 (1.85") Hotchkiss gun [3-pdr (1.4 kg) Hotchkiss guns]". NavWeaps. 1 December 2006. Retrieved 22 December 2009. 
  11. ^ "Russia 37 mm/5 (1.5") Hotchkiss Gun 37 mm/1 (1.5") Hotchkiss Gun [1-pdr (0.45 kg) Hotchkiss Guns]". NavWeaps. 1 December 2006. Retrieved 22 December 2009. 
  12. ^ a b McLaughlin, p. 49
  13. ^ McLaughlin, pp. 46, 52
  14. ^ Arbuzov, pp. 381, 387
  15. ^ a b c d McLaughlin, p. 52
  16. ^ Bascomb, p. 184
  17. ^ Arbuzov, p. 387


  • Arbuzov, Vladimir V. (1992). "The Battleship Dvenadstadt Apostolov". Warship International. Toledo, OH: International Naval Research Organization. 30 (2): 368–388. ISSN 0043-0374. 
  • Bascomb, Neal (2007). Red Mutiny: Eleven Fateful Days on the Battleship Potemkin. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 
  • Gardiner, Robert, ed. (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860—1905. New York: Mayflower Books. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4. 
  • McLaughlin, Stephen (2003). Russian & Soviet Battleships. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-481-4. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Battleship Dvenadtsat' Apostolov at Wikimedia Commons