Natural emeralds are rarely flawless ...
Increased fragility is a characteristic feature of the stone ...
“They were twenty-seven strong, high-speed ships, with the latest artillery of ships: they were surrounded by a close, iron ring, proud, intoxicated with yesterday's victory and all the successes of such a happy war for them; we only had four broken, old ships, they also had 7 destroyers. If these destroyers are taken as one warship, then the number of enemies was 7 times stronger than us. Taking into account the moral depression that the entire personnel of the remaining ships experienced, after the terrible pictures of the battle the day before, ... the complete absence of real shells, the old, nowhere-worthless artillery, all this, taken together, did not make our enemy seven, but infinitely stronger than us. "
So emotionally and colorfully described Ensign Alexander Shamiy position in which the detachment of Admiral Nebogatov was in 10 hours 15 in the morning of May 1905. However, it should be noted that initially there were five ships in it: in addition to the three obsolete battleships and the Eagle, which was beaten by shells and the Orla tormented by fires, there was also a light cruiser, Emerald, about which this article will be discussed.
The cruiser "Emerald" on the Kronstadt raid
The Emerald was laid at the Nevsky Shipbuilding Plant in 1902, its construction basically ended with 28 months later, although some nodes and systems continued to be checked and taken on the transition to Madagascar, which the cruiser had to reach for the Second Pacific Squadron, which left Revel a month earlier than him. The project was based on the drawings of the Novik cruiser acquired earlier in Germany. Perched at the command of a military customer on his deck, additional armaments and masts, as well as the replacement of the Schihau boilers with the Yarrow boilers did not benefit the ship: in particular, the maximum speed decreased from 25 to 24 nodes, and the 12 sailing range -The nodal move decreased from 2,370 to 2,090 miles.
The workmanship of both the cruiser hull and its various systems also turned out to be not up to par. Here is what Kravchenko, the ship's doctor of the Emerald, wrote about this in his diary: “The deck flows a lot. Almost everywhere the water drops, and where it pours in streams. In the car, then one, then the other bearing warms up, or the “flange” will burst ... Electricity makes a fool and once at six o'clock in the midst of dinner it completely went out until the morning. ”
Characteristically, with all the shortcomings, the cost of a cruiser built in Russia turned out to be almost twice as high as its German predecessor (3 549 848 rubles. Vs. 2 000 870 rubles.). Given this fact, today's discussions about the possibility of acquiring warships from China are beginning to be seen in a very special light. Having joined the Second Squadron of the Pacific Ocean, the Emerald made with it a transition from the island of Madagascar to the East China Sea.
On the night of 13 on 14, May 1905, a compound of Admiral Rozhestvensky consisting of twelve armored ships, nine armored, light and auxiliary cruisers, nine torpedo boats and eight non-combat ships entered the Tsushima Strait for further breakthrough into Vladivostok.
At the beginning of the second hour of the day, fighting detachments of Japanese ships led by Admiral Togo appeared on the countercourse of the Russian squadron. In 13: 49, the flagship battleship "Prince Suvorov" fired a sighting shot at the lead ship of the Japanese, thereby launching a sea battle lasting many hours, later called Tsushima.
At the beginning of the battle, "Emerald" carried out the prescription received the day before and kept abreast of the flagship of the second armored detachment, the battleship Oslyabya, from the opposite side from the enemy. After about 40 minutes, the cruiser changed its position in the ranks, as its commander, second-rank captain Vasily Nikolayevich Ferzen, noticed that Oslyabya, badly injured by enemy fire, was in distress, and turned to him, intending to help.
Vasily Nikolaevich Ferzen
However, having approached the place of the death of the battleship, the cruiser commander decided to limit himself to ordering to dump the people in the water, bunks, buoys and one whaleboat without rowers. The report prepared by Baron Ferzen after the battle indicated that he “was forced to give a move and move away from the Oslyabya place of death, so as not to interfere with the battleships of the 3 and 2 units to perform their maneuver.”
There are certain doubts about this explanation, since the destroyers “Violent”, “Braviy” and “Bystryi” being at the same place and in the same place could, without interfering with the battleships, carry out rescue operations, thanks to which almost four hundred members were raised from the water crew "Oslyabi." Therefore, it seems more plausible that Baron Fersen hurried to get out of the region intensively fired by the enemy solely out of fear of getting into his ship.
Leaving the place of death "Oslyabya", "Emerald" went to the right side of the battleship column and, several times changing its position relative to it, eventually ended up on the traverse of the battleship "Emperor Nicholas I", which was a junior flagship, rear admiral Nebogatov.
At about half past six in the evening, the squadron battleship Alexander III, who was in charge of the Russian ships, was tilting badly, rolling to the left and turning over.
According to the above-mentioned report of the captain of the second rank, Fersen, he “went full speed and went to the perishing battleship to save people as far as possible ... Going to the overturned battleship remaining to swim upward with a keel, stopped the cruiser and began to lower the rostreth boat out of the roost boat by that time I was gone; at the same time, drop all lifebuoys, belts, and bunks that were on hand. The enemy armored cruisers, quickly moving, opened fire ... When the distance to our end battleship became 20 cable, gave full speed, put it right on board and went to the squadron. The boat did not have time to lower. "
Alas, the life-saving appliances released into the icy water of the Sea of Japan did not help drowning people: not one person escaped from more than nine hundred members of the “Alexander” crew.
On the night of 14 on May 15, the Emerald cruiser remained near Nicholas I and the Admiral Senyavin, General Admiral Apraksin and Orel, which followed the battleship of the battleships. After sunrise, the detachment moving in the direction of Vladivostok was quickly opened by Japanese reconnaissance cruisers, who accompanied him for several hours, simultaneously directing his main forces on him. At about 10: the morning of the 30, Russian ships were surrounded by an enemy many times overwhelming them.
Not considering it possible to inflict any significant damage to the enemy ships, and also, seeing no possibility of escaping from them, the commander of the detachment, Rear Admiral Nebogatov, decided to surrender. By his order, on the mast of Nicholas I, the signals "Surrounded" and "I give up" were raised.
Having examined the flagship signals, the commanders of armored ships ordered to rehearse it already on their masts. In contrast, the second-rank captain Fersen decided not to give up the ship and gave the order to go at full speed into the gap between the enemy cruisers, still remaining in the south-east direction. It is necessary to appreciate this act of the commander of "Emerald" and pay tribute to the fact that instead of the shame of captivity, which nevertheless would surely save his life, and perhaps even the title (he could always say that he simply obeyed the order of his admiral) he chose to make a breakthrough attempt.
The Japanese did not immediately guess the Emerald maneuver. When it became clear that he was leaving, the cruisers Niitaka (maximum speed of 20 knots), Kasagi (22 knots), and Chetose (22 knots) rushed in pursuit. The Niitaka quickly fell behind, but the other two Japanese cruisers continued to pursue the Emerald for several hours, until it was hidden from them by the veil of thickened fog.
Despite the fact that the Russian cruiser managed to escape from the chase, his position remained very difficult for the following reasons:
1. During the 14 battle, on May 9, Emerald had to sharply give full rear gear or stop the car several times abruptly from full forward, which resulted in cracks in the steam main feeding the stern auxiliary mechanisms, including the steering wheel. Having examined the damage, the senior mechanic concluded that the maximum stroke that a cruiser could give without the risk of further breakdowns did not exceed 15 knots.
2. A long movement at high speed required a significant angle consumption, so the disposable fuel supply on the ship was extremely limited.
3. Departing from prosecution, the Emerald strongly bent to the southeast, so that the Japanese cruisers could take positions on a possible route to Vladivostok for the purpose of interception, which, given the first two points, would be impossible to avoid.
Taking into account all of the above, V.N. Fersen decided to follow the course NO 43⁰, which allowed him to approach the end point of the route, approaching the coast at a distance of 50 miles.
During the further movement of the cruiser, the aft steam line collapsed so much that it was necessary to separate it and plug it with flanges. This led to the need to reload coal from one pit to another, since its consumption in the fireplaces located in different parts of the ship went unevenly, and the ability to feed steam from the bow to the stern no longer existed.
Coal overload went on continuously, starting from the evening of May 15, for which the entire crew of the ship was involved, with the exception of the shift of the gunners located near the guns. People were extremely tired: V.N. Ferzen noted that "for work performed in ordinary time by one, it was necessary to appoint three." Due to the fatigue of the stokers, the cruiser course dropped to 13 nodes.
Understanding that malfunctions in the undercarriage of the ship and overwork of the team, which had not had time to rest for more than two days, could become decisive factors in the event of a meeting with the enemy, Vasily Nikolayevich decided to reduce its probability to the minimum possible and gave the order to follow to Vladimir Bay located in 350 kilometers northeast of Vladivostok. Obviously located closer to the main base fleet Posyet and Nakhodka bays were rejected by him for the same reasons as Vladivostok itself: the possibility of intercepting enemy ships on the route to them, as well as the risk that they would be mined by the Japanese.
Emerald reached Vladimir Bay near 0: 30 on the night of 16 on May 17. Since by that time the stock of coal on the ship was almost exhausted and, in addition, all the available wood was burned, with the exception of boats and masts, the commander decided to enter the bay without waiting for dawn.
If the maneuver was a success, then between the cruiser and the open sea would be the peninsula Vatovskogo, which would hide the "Emerald" from the Japanese ships, leading his search. Unfortunately, at the entrance to the bay, the navigator officer Lieutenant Polushkin, who was in charge of setting the ship, mistakenly determined the distance to Cape Orekhovy, because of which the cruiser approached him too much and jumped to the end of the reef coming from this cape.
Vladimir Bay on the map
During the night tide, an attempt was made to dismantle the ship. For this purpose, the wrens was started, and simultaneously with the launch of the spire choosing its chain, the full course was given by the machines. Despite this, the cruiser remained motionless. The measurements made showed that for the length of the body 2 / 3, he sat in the water above the minimum groove almost 0.5 meter.
It made sense to make further attempts to remove it only after the ship was unloaded, for which it would be necessary to drain the water from its boilers, as well as remove the heavy guns of the main caliber and ammunition. Naturally, in addition to this, it would be necessary to replenish the fuel reserves, since by the time it was stranded there were no more than 8-10 tons. Most likely, coal was in the village of Olga, located fifty kilometers south of the location of the cruiser. But in order to use it, it would be necessary to send a rowing boat there from the Emerald, to get the necessary amount of coal loaded onto any ship in Olga Bay, and bring it to Vladimir Bay.
Performing all the above actions would have required at least 24 hours, which did not suit the commander of the ship, since in the case of a very likely, in his opinion, the appearance of the Japanese, which was an excellent target, the fixed Emerald could fight with them only two 120- mm guns, and would inevitably be shot or, worse, captured.
Baron Ferzen’s categorical assurance that enemy ships are about to appear on the horizon cannot be explained by anything else than the played out imagination and shattered nerves. After all, even assuming that the Japanese, having guessed his intention not to go to Vladivostok, would send one or two cruisers to search for the Emerald, it would take them at least a few days to inspect all suitable bays and bays in the southeastern part of Primorye. (in fact, the first Japanese ship entered the Vladimir Bay only after a month and a half).
You can also ask fair questions about whether the Emerald did not make sense to go to Olga right away, since it was located closer along the cruiser’s route, and how VN Ferzen planned to solve the fuel problem, if the setting in Vladimir Bay was successful.
On the first question in his testimony of the militaryhistorical The commander of the cruiser explained to the commission that “at first he intended to go to Olga, but the senior officer expressed the opinion that this bay was probably mined to give shelter to our destroyers from the enemy. Recognizing this assumption as solid, Vladimir chose ... "Hiding the Emerald in the South Bay Bay, V.N. Fersen could deliver coal in a relatively quiet manner.
Be that as it may, the cruiser was aground, and its commander decided to blow up the ship. Without collecting military council, V.N. Ferzen discussed his decision with some officers. It is known that at least two of them (midshipman Virenius and the mechanic Topchiev) spoke out against the immediate destruction of the Emerald. How many people were in favor was not known for sure. In the testimony of Patton-Fanton-de-Verrion, a senior officer and navigator officer Polushkin, that have come down to us, their personal opinions are not given, but it is emphasized that the captain of the second rank Ferzen made the decision about the explosion alone.
So, the cruiser’s fate was resolved, and 17 in May 1905, near 13: 30, two charging compartments were blown up on it, causing a fire in the bow of the ship and an explosion of stern cartridge cellars, which virtually destroyed the entire Emerald. Six days later, on the orders of the commander, additional explosions were carried out, which brought the cruiser’s vehicles to a complete disrepair. After that, the crew of the Emerald on foot went to Vladivostok and reached it in the second half of July.
Subsequently, Baron Fersen was awarded the gold weapons "For courage", which gave rise to a certain discontent among the officers. Opinions were expressed that the cruiser was ruined by the commander almost intentionally, in order to avoid further participation in hostilities. Some even believed that the Emerald did not accomplish any exploits on the morning of May 15. Here is what, for example, Ensign Shamiye, who was on the battleship Nicholas I at that time, showed about this:
"Emerald" received permission to go to Vladivostok, gave full speed, over 23 nodes, and disappeared. Nobody cut him off from the squadron and he did not break through anywhere, as it was written in the report, but simply, using the power of his mechanisms, he avoided the misfortune into which we were put. ”
It’s strange to read such opinions, at least, because they are based on the absurd assumption that V.N. Ferzen was convinced beforehand that his ship with damages in the undercarriage and a weary crew could escape the pursuit of the Japanese. In fact, if the Emerald were a little smaller, he would have to take an unequal battle with a strong opponent, similar to those in which the cruisers Svetlana, Dmitry Donskoy and Vladimir Monomakh were killed.
It seems that in the episode with a breakthrough, the captain of the second rank Ferzen showed rare courage and composure, which differed, alas, not all ship commanders in that so unsuccessful war for Russia. Unfortunately, Vasily Nikolayevich himself was unable to demonstrate these qualities either during the 14 battle on May 9, when his ship had the opportunity to assist battleships in distress, or after Izumrud, having escaped from enemy cruisers, reached the shores of Primorye.
Report Cap. 2p. Fersen
Indication cap. 2p. Fersen
Indication cap. 2p. Patton-Fanton-de-Verrion
Leith testimony. Polushkina
Indication prap. Shamie