BAV Maturin (BB-1917)


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The Maturin and Zulia were ships of the ex Russian Imperator Nikolai I class of battleship. The Nikolai Class were to be improved Gangut's. The shortcomings of the Gangut were known and steps were taken to remedy the numerous problems. The first most noticeable item was the raised forecastle for improved sea keeping and to add some much needed extra buoyancy forward. This flowed right through the ship. Better dimensions raised the metacentric height of the ship so that the 5.1" casemates were only washed out in the most extremes of weather. Crew conditions within the ship were much drier and cleaner which gave much better morale.

The armour scheme of the Gangut's was revised. The armoured belt was increased from 9 inches to 10.6 inches. The early North Sea battles dictated an increase in the deck armour from 2 to 3 inches. But the loss by mine of the Audacious gave the most needed area of the armour scheme, the underwater armour, a much needed review. These changes were invisible but gave much needed increased staying power to the two ships.

Both ships were laid down in late 1914 with completion dates for 1917. Wartime priorities and restrictions varied the dates out to 1918. But with both ships launched and in the fitting out bays, the Germans took the port and all construction stopped. The armistice of 1917 put the ships under the control of the White Russians and General Wrangel. The next two years saw small amounts of work being done on both ships, as much to keep the artisans in the yards employed, as to complete the ships with any priority.

Imperator Nikolai I under construction in 1916.

The state of the ships was critical to their futures. The Soviets were on the march and were headed through the Ukraine and into the Crimean Peninsular. The area under the command of General Wrangel was shrinking rapidly. Both ships had the machinery aboard but it had never been run. The main weapons were mounted but had no shells. The 5.1" had been seconded to the army and fitted on land mountings for use against the Soviets. These were no longer available. To take the ships anywhere would require sea going tugs or large warships for towing. Included in Wrangel's Fleet both ships arrived in Venezuela in an incomplete state. The first job of the new Venezuelan shipyards would be to complete these ships.

Both ships were surveyed properly as to what was required to complete them. Neither ship had enough parts aboard to complete it. But, together there was enough to complete one ship as a battleship and the other as an aircraft carrier. A type of ship Venezuela was interested in acquiring. The Maturin was completed as the battleship and served from 1925 to 1937 as Fleet Flagship. It was 1937 that the Maturin was taken in hand for rebuilding in line with the other older battleships.

When the Maturin emerged from its rebuilding work, it returned as Flagship, but now of the Second Battle Squadron. New ships had been completed that now populated the First Battle Squadron and as Fleet Flagship. The rebuilding of this ship and the three Maracaibo Class ships were to provide cover for the invaluable Venezuela oil tanker fleet in time of war. 1930 and the Japanese start rearmament. 1935 and the German and Italian navies also have started rebuilding. The German and Japanese raiders are the main adversaries that the Venezuelan ships might face. Taking the Kaiser as the most typical enemy raider to face, the 9x12" main armament should be able to take the Kaiser down. The increased speed would also match the Kaiser so it could not get away.

Historically this is a single ship class. I make it a two ship class that gets towed off to Venezuela so that one can be completed as a battleship and the other as an aircraft carrier.

Displacement 28,00 tons std 32,250 tons full load
Length 600 ft.
Breadth 95 ft
Draught 30 ft
Machinery 4 shaft steam turbines, 70,000shp (110,000shp)
Speed 24 knots (28 knots)
Range 5,500 miles at 12 knots
Armour 11" side, 3" deck, 12"/8"/4" turrets
Armament As completed 1925

12 x 12" (4x3)
20 x 5.1" (20x1)
8 x 64mm (8x1)
As rebuilt 1937

9 x 12" (3X3)
10 x 5.1 DP (10X1)
4 x 28mm (1x4)
14 x 0.5"mg (14x1)
Aircraft nil 1
Torpedoes 4 x 17.7" (submerged) nil
Complement 1200
Notes BAV Maturin



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