INS Gangut Class (BB-1914)


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I have taken a few liberties with the two/three classes of Russian dreadnoughts that make up their inline non-superfiring ships. I do this so I can populate Wrangels fleet with more ships. (see Venezuela and Wrangel Historical).

The Imperial Navy was in dire straits after the humiliating defeat to the Japanese in 1905. The ships being built had been made obsolete by the British Dreadnought. It was not until 1909 that a new class of the new Dreadnought type battleships could be laid down. Four ships each in the Baltic and Black Sea shipyards were to be built. The first ships were laid down in 1909 using money from the Tsars discretionary fund and it was not until 1911 that the ships became fully funded by the Duma. Work on the initial six units picked up speed at this point and the ships were to be completed late 1914, early 1915. The third and fourth Black Sea units were not laid down till 1913-14 with completion in 1916-17. The last two ships were completed to a larger design to take into account some of the deficiencies of the original Gangut design. (se Imperator Nikolai I - when I draw them)

The final design of the Gangut class (as shown above) had so many inherent flaws, when compared to other ships of the major navies, that they were considered completely obsolete when completed. By the time the ships were completing the British had the Queen Elizabeth class ships entering service, with 15" guns. But the Imperial Navy was not there to advertise the classes faults but to accentuate the positives. The positives were the designed speed of 23 knots, and the 12" 52 calibre guns. The negatives were many.  Thin armour belt, turret armour was poor. The boilers did not perform as advertised and 23 knots may have been made at completion trials, but that was the only time. The underwater armour was negligible and any torpedo or mine hit would probably have sunk them. The ships came in overweight so the secondary guns were much closer to the revised waterline level and the casemates got washed out in even moderate sea states. The Black Sea ships were better armed in that the 4.7" casemates of the Baltic ships were replaced with the new 5.1" gun. Which didn't help, they still got washed out.

Of the six ships that took part in the First World War, only the Imperatritsa Mariya had any significant action when the ship had a run in with the Turkish Yavuz (exGoeben) where the Russian ship proved that its guns were better and fired further, and that at 23 knots (while brand new) almost caught the Yavuz which, while rated at 26 knots, poor coal and maintenance had reduced that speed to 24 knots. Yavuz was lucky to escape.

The four Baltic ships stayed close to home and only ventured out into the Gulf of Finland to support minelaying operations. It was the laying of mines that caught the German cruiser Magdeburg from which the Russians captured 3 copies of the German code books of the time, one of which was passed onto the British. A coup for the Russian Navy.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 and onwards were a time of great change for the Russian Navy. Most of the officers of the Navy had been aristocrats and met their end after being brought before a Revolutionary Court. This left the Navy being run by petty officers and under. While these men were good at their jobs they lacked the training to do the specialised jobs the officers had done. Navigators and the like are not trained overnight. The Navy went through a time of slow change during this period. It was the ships that paid the price. They became filthy rusty wrecks. With no one to tell them what to do and when to do it, basic tasks were just not done or refused to be done.

While the Revolution may have started in 1917 it was not till 1923-24 that the Soviets could say they were in control of the country. The war with the White Russian forces had been a bitter, deadly affair with no quarter given. I note above the historical event in the Black Sea of "Wrangel's Fleet" which emptied the Black Sea of shipping and the Crimea and adjoining areas of people and anything not nailed down. The people knew what would happen to them if they stayed and waited for the Soviets. Death followed the Soviets like a black cloud.

Once the Soviets were in control and a stock take of the Navy was made, the shortcomings of the existing ships and the ones under construction became apparent. Neglect had been the watchword. Apart from three of the Gangut's and a handful of light cruisers and destroyers, the once mighty Russian Navy had ceased to exist. Out came the proverbial gas axe and any ship that had been surveyed and dismissed went to the breakers yards. This included new construction that would be unable to be completed. Only three of the Ganguts had survived. one had had a fire that swept through the ship and left it in a condition from which there was no return. Only useful for spare parts for the two ships that remained in the Baltic. With the Black Sea being empty of Soviet ships one of the Ganguts was transferred to the Black Sea.

So to the future disposition and how much work to put into the Gangut's refits during the 1930's. The Navy was the poor cousin of the three armed forces of the Soviets. Mostly because those at the top had no understanding of what it took to make up a navy. As those that came to be in charge of the Navy learnt their trades and got assistance (mainly from the Italians) from overseas sources, a better understanding of what they had, what they needed and what they were likely to get. The five or six years of Soviet turmoil had ruined the infrastructure the Navy required to produce warships to repopulate the Navy.

The three remaining Gangut's were status symbols to the new Soviet Navy. All four were kept on the Navy roll, even though one was a spare parts ship. It was decided early that no great amounts of money would be spent on the Gangut's as it would be better to build new ships than to try to rectify the faults of the old.

As it turned out, the Baltic ships, remained at Leningrad throughout the war and acted as static gun ships and AA vessels. Any money spent on upgrades would have been wasted.

Construction data
Ship Russian name Builder Namesake Renamed Second Namesake Laid down Launched Commissioned
Gangut Гангут Admiralty ShipyardSaint Petersburg Battle of Gangut, 1714 Oktyabrskaya Revolyutsiya (Октябрьская революция) 27 Jun 1925 October Revolution, 1917 16 Jun 1909 20 Oct 1911 11 Jan 1915
Petropavlovsk Петропавловск Baltic Yard, Saint Petersburg Siege of Petropavlovsk, 1854 Marat (Марат) 31 Mar 1921 Jean-Paul Marat 22 Sep 1911 5 Jan 1915
Sevastopol Севастополь Siege of Sevastopol Parizhskaya Kommuna (Парижская коммуна) 31 Mar 1921 Paris Commune, 1871 10 Jul 1911 30 Nov 1914
Poltava Полтава Admiralty Shipyard, Saint Petersburg Battle of Poltava, 1709 Frunze (Фру́нзе) 7 Jan 1926 Mikhail Frunze 23 Jul 1911 30 Dec 1914

The Black Sea ship arrived under the name Parizhzkaya Kommuna, the ship was soon returned to its original name of Sevastopol. More time and money was spent on this ship than the other two. But that is relative. The navy yard at Nikolayiev had received the four turrets/guns from the Poltava, from which they were to produce a new battleship. An armament of 12x12" was considered too weak and the Sevastopol was to donate its "B" turret to the new ship to get a battleship with 15x12". The ships this new ship might encounter in the Black sea were the older ships that populated the navies of Galicia and Turkey. The Russian 12" 52 calibre weapons were superior to the 12" aboard potential enemy ships. The new ship was to have a speed of 28 knots. If the Sevastopol was to be able to operate with it, then its speed would also need to increase. The area from which 'B' turret was removed would provide the extra space required for new machinery. Bulges would be fitted to take care of the underwater problems and assist with the extra topweight the new fittings and secondary armaments added.


Displacement 24,400 tons std 26,750 tons full load
Length 625 ft. as rebuilt
Breadth 88 ft
Draught 27 ft
Machinery 4 shaft steam turbines, 75,000shp
Speed 27 knots
Range 5,500 miles at 12 knots
Armour 9" side, 3.9" deck, 8"/6"/4" turrets
Armament 9 x 12" (3x3)
8 x 3.9" (8x1)
10 x 45mm (5x2)
Complement 750 (800 as Flagship) 765 (810 as Flagship)
Notes SNS Sevastopol


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