SS Baikal

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Baikal ferry.jpg
The icebreaking steamer Baikal in action on Lake Baikal.
Name: SS Baikal
Owner: Part of the Trans-Siberian Railroad
Ordered: 11 January [O.S. 30 December] 1896
Builder: Armstrong Whitworth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England[1]
Cost: £79,890
Yard number: 647
Laid down: Spring 1896
Launched: 29 Jun 1899
Completed: 29 June [O.S. 17 June] 1899
In service: 1900
Fate: Damaged by artillery fire in 1918 and scuttled, later dismantled
General characteristics
Class and type: Train ferry/icebreaker
Tonnage: 800 GRT
Displacement: 4,200 long tons (4,267 t)
Length: 88.4 m (290 ft 0 in)
Beam: 17.4 m (57 ft 1 in)
Draught: 5.8 m (19 ft 0 in)
Installed power: 3 × reciprocating steam engines, 3,750 hp (2,796 kW)
Propulsion: Two aft wing propellers and one bow propeller
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
  • 300 passengers and crew
  • 27 freight biaxial railway cars

SS Baikal was an ice-breaking train ferry that linked the eastern and western portions of the Trans-Siberian Railroad across Lake Baikal.

SS Baikal on the day before launching.

Ship history[edit]

In early 1895 the construction of a ferry across the Lake Baikal began, following the proposal of the Minister of Transport Mikhail Khilkov. On 30 December 1895 a contract with Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd was signed for the parts of the icebreaking ferry (without woodwork and in disassembled state). By June 1896 the icebreaker had been delivered for assembly to the village of Listvenichnoye. After three years it was completed and launched on 29 June [O.S. 17 June] 1899.

Before the Circum-Baikal Railway was opened in 1905, Baikal, and later also the Angara, carried two loads a day between piers at Baikal and Mysovaya. After the railway was completed, both ships continued to operate in reserve.[citation needed]

When the Civil War broke out Baikal was equipped with machine guns and cannons by the Red Army. When Irkutsk surrendered to the White Army, Baikal sailed to the Mysovaya pier, the location of the Red Army headquarters.[citation needed]

In August 1918 the icebreaker was damaged by field artillery fire by Czechoslovak Legion troops during the Battle of Lake Baikal. It was burnt at the Mysovaya pier.[citation needed]

In 1920 the damaged hull was refloated and towed to Port Baikal. It remained untouched until at least 1926, and was later dismantled. There is a possibility that its lower hull, bow propeller, and part of the engines are still at the bottom of the lake at the mouth of the Angara River.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "SS Baikal (1896)". Retrieved 29 April 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]