For convenience of analysis, the article will use a special concept — unit cost, i.e. the cost of ton ship displacement. This will allow to compare the "price tags" of ships of different sizes and classes with the greatest accuracy. If possible, for comparison, the “price tags” of foreign “classmates” will be used, for each ship separately. Among all the many Russian ships will be considered those that were built in the Baltic. This is due to the fact that the cost of the Black Sea ships also included significant logistical costs that are absent from the Baltic shipyards and most of the shipyards in the world (at least on such a scale). Thus, the conditions of comparison will be as close as possible to each other, although there will still be some differences. There will also be some assessment of the pace and quality of construction, but more on this at the end of the article. All calculations regarding both the total and specific value of the ships will be held in pounds sterling. There are several reasons for this, but the main one is the convenience of comparison with foreign contemporaries and analogs.
The obtained figures for the specific cost of the ships may differ from the official ones due to different methods of calculating these prices. As far as I can tell, the unit cost could be calculated by the “dry” displacement, normal or full, as a result of which, at the same cost, different figures per ton will be obtained. In addition, official unit costs could be calculated on the basis of both the design price tag and the displacement, as well as the actual cost, and in addition, there were also two different approaches to determining the cost of the ship - with or without weapons. In the framework of the current article, only one of the above mentioned methods will be used - dividing the total final cost of the ship by the actual normal displacement. This will minimize inconsistencies, although it will not relieve us of them at all. In those cases where it will be impossible to determine the full cost, this will be discussed separately.
It is worth noting that it is not possible in all cases to accurately determine the normal displacement of the ships in question, and in some cases it is not clear whether it is given in “long” tons or metric tons. In the case of an unclear normal displacement, this will be indicated separately, while the difference in the cost of the ships, depending on the type of tons, may differ by 1.016 times, which is quite acceptable "play". In addition, depending on the sources, the cost figures of the ships may differ - just by Novik I could see several distinct values, therefore in such cases the choice of one or another source as the main one remains entirely on the conscience of the author.
Squadron battleship "Oslyabya" on the completion. On the right - a cruiser of the first rank "Aurora" after launching
Under the state-owned enterprises of the Baltic Sea are meant two plants, which were the main shipyards of Russia in the region right up to the beginning of the 20th century. This is about New Admiralty и Galerny Island. Both enterprises were rooted in the time of Peter the Great, and were originally engaged in the construction of rowing fleet. From the ships they built, we can distinguish a number of ships that are useful to us for analysis.
The squadron battleship Sisoy the Great (founded in 1891, entered service in 1896) - the first Russian battleship with rapid-fire artillery under smokeless powder, was built at the New Admiralty. Cost of construction - 762.752 pounds, or 87 pounds per ton. However, different sources give different estimates of the displacement figures, because, depending on who you are targeting, the specific cost of Sisoya can also be 73 pounds per ton. For comparison, the French battleship Charles Martel laid out in 1891 had a unit cost of 94 pounds per ton, and the American Indiana 121 pounds per ton.
Squadron battleship "Sevastopol" (laid in 1892, entered into service in 1900) - belonged to the type of "Poltava", was built on the Galerny Island. The cost of construction was 991.916 pounds, or 86 pounds per ton. Comparison with counterparts will be given below, using the example of Poltava.
The coastal defense battleship Admiral Senyavin (founded in 1893, entered service on 1897) - the strongest battleship of the Baltic coast defense, the lead ship of the series (although this title is challenged by Admiral Ushakov). The cost of construction - 418.535 pounds, the unit cost - about 100 pounds per ton. A comparison will be given below.
The battleship coastal defense "General-Admiral Apraksin" (laid in 1895, entered into service in 1899). Belonged to the type of "Admiral Senyavin", but had a number of differences, most important of which - 3 254-mm guns instead of 4. Built on the New Admiralty. The cost of construction - 399.066 pounds, or 96 pounds per ton.
Oslaby squadron battleship (laid at 1895, commissioned at 1903) - the battleship-cruiser, he is a battleship of the II rank, he is a squadron battleship, belonged to the type of "Peresvet", although he had a number of differences. Built on the New Admiralty. Cost of construction - 1.198.731 pound, or 83 pound per ton. A comparison will be given below.
Armored cruiser "Diana" (founded in 1897, entered service in 1901) - the head cruiser of the goddess series. Had a significant amount of 75-mm anti-mine guns, large size and moderate speed. Built on the Galerny Island. Cost of construction - 643.434 pounds, or 96 pounds per ton. The much larger British cruiser "Diadem" had a unit price of 53 pounds per ton, but excluding weapons. A comparable size German cruiser Victoria Louise cost the treasury 92 pounds per ton. The slightly lighter French “Jurin de la Gravière” had a unit price of 85 pounds per ton. One-type "Aurora", built on the New Admiralty, cost 93 pounds per ton.
Borodino squadron battleship (laid at 1900, commissioned at 1904) - The lead ship of the largest and most famous series of Russian squadron battleships. He had a high degree of technical complexity, good protection and weapons, outstanding survivability. Built on the New Admiralty. The cost of construction - 1.540.169 pounds, or 107 pounds per ton. One-type "Eagle", built on the Galerny Island, had a unit cost of 100 pounds per ton. Ships for comparison - the French "Republik" (108 pounds per ton), the Italian "Regina Elena" (89 pounds per ton), the German "Braunschweig" (89 pounds per ton), the Japanese "Mikasa" (approximately 90 pounds per ton, exact total cost is unknown). The ancestor of "Borodin" - "Tsesarevich", cost 1.480.338 pounds, or 113 pounds per ton.
Armored cruiser "Oleg" (laid in 1902 year, entered into service in 1904) - a slightly modified cruiser type "Bogatyr", was built on the New Admiralty. The cost of construction - 778.165 pounds, or 117 pounds per ton. For comparison - "Bogatyr" cost 85 pounds per ton.
It is worth noting that most of these ships had some or other problems with the quality of construction - in particular, the Eagle and Borodino suffered because of poorly assembled steam engines, and the Oslyabya had a significant overload. In addition, many ships built by state-owned shipyards turned out to be protracted (up to 8 years).
Squadron battleship "Prince Suvorov" in the process of completion.
For private enterprises it will be appropriate to go separately. Formally private enterprises that are actually controlled by the state will also be included here (this is a Baltic plant). For starters, take Society of Franco-Russian plants, which for the construction of ships leased the territory of state-owned shipyards.
Squadron battleship "Navarin" (founded in 1899, entered service in 1896) - was the development of the British battleships "Trafalgar" and "Nile", was considered at the time of laying one of the most powerful in the world, but by the time of entry into service is morally obsolete. Built on the New Admiralty. In pounds sterling, the ship was worth 837.620 - accordingly, the unit cost was 82 pounds per ton. For comparison, the Royal Soveren battleship, built in the UK and built in the same year as Navarin, cost 913.986 pounds or 65 pounds per ton, and the French Brennus had a specific value of 89 pounds per ton.
Squadron battleship "Poltava" (laid in 1892, entered service in 1900 year) - at the time of laying a rather powerful type of battleship, well-armed and protected, but at the time of entry into operation is morally obsolete. Built by the Society of Franco-Russian factories. Cost of construction - 918.241 pound, or 80 pounds per ton. The foreign “peer” - the French “Massena”, also incorporated in the 1892 year - had a unit price of 94 pounds per ton.
Next on the list is, of course, Baltic factoryabout which you can talk a lot and mostly good. By ships:
Armored cruiser "Rurik" (laid in 1890, entered into service in 1895) - the development of the traditional Russian concept of armored cruiser-raider. The construction cost was 874.554 pounds, or 75 pounds per ton. Comparison with contemporaries is difficult, because the boom of armored cruisers has not yet come, and they were built quite a bit. However, it would be appropriate to make a comparison with the Spanish armored cruisers (81-87 pounds per ton), the Italian "Marco Polo" (71 pound per ton, but without armament) and the American "New York" (67 pounds per ton without armament ). Also, I can not but remember the American armored cruiser, he is a class II Meng'nite battleship, which cost US taxpayers 173 pounds per tonne excluding armaments (the figure is not reliable, perhaps this is the unit cost taking armaments into account).
The battleship coastal defense "Admiral Ushakov" (laid in 1892, entered into service in 1896) - the same type with “Admiral Senyavin”, although I had some differences (the most significant concerns the length of the chimneys). Cost of construction - 381.446 pounds, or 82 pounds per ton. For comparison, the same type "Senyavin", built by a state-owned enterprise, cost 100 pounds per ton, and "Apraksin" - 96. Also, it would not be superfluous to indicate the specific cost of the French BBO "Henri IV", although it was laid down on 5 years later and noticeably larger - 91 pounds per ton.
Armored cruiser "Russia" (laid in the 1893, entered into service in the 1897) - the development of "Rurik" with the best characteristics, new artillery and a larger area of armor. Cost of construction - 1.140.527 pounds, or 94 pounds per ton. For comparison, the American “Brooklyn” cost the treasury 49 pounds per ton excluding weapons, and the Spanish Emperador Carlos IV, deprived of armor belts, 81 pounds per ton (excluding numerous alterations that pulled additional costs in 1,5-2 million pesetas) .
Squadron battleship "Peresvet" (laid in 1895, entered into service in 1901) - Ancestor of a series of battleships-cruisers, and in fact battleships of rank II. The cost of construction - 1.185.206 pounds, or 86 pounds per ton. For comparison, the previously laid out Ranaun had a specific cost of 2 pounds per ton, a modern Peresvet Majestic - 58 pounds per ton, German Kaiser Frederick III - 68 pounds per ton, French Charlemagne - 95 pounds per ton, laid down a year later by the American Kirsaard - 97 pounds per ton.
Armored cruiser "Thunderbolt" (laid in 1897 year, entered into service in 1900) - the development of "Russia", the last ship of its concept. It was built in 2,5, the record year for its size, and with minimal overload (65 tons). The cost of construction - 1.065.039 pounds, the unit cost - 87 pounds per ton. For comparison, the British “Cressy” (65 pounds per ton, but without weapons), the German “Prince Heinrich” (91 pounds per ton), the French “Moncalm” (95 pounds per ton) and the British-Japanese “Asama” (about 80-90 pounds per ton, the determination of the cost is difficult because of the presence of only an approximate cost of construction).
Squadron battleship "Victory" (laid in 1898, entered service in 1902 year) - slightly improved "Peresvet". The cost of construction - 1.008.025 pounds, or 76 pounds per ton. Peresvet and Oslyabye of the same type turned out to be more expensive (87 and 83 pounds per ton), foreign-built ships also did not differ in special cheapness compared to Victory (German Wittelsbach - 94 pounds per ton, British Formidable - 76 pounds per ton).
Battleships "Emperor Alexander III", "Prince Suvorov" and "Glory" were built over a period of 5 years, and differed somewhat in price. Accordingly, their unit price fluctuated - from 104 pounds per ton for “Alexander” to 101 for pounds for “Glory”. It would be appropriate to compare these ships (especially “Glory”) with the ships of the 1902-1903 bookmarks - “King Edward VII” (94 pounds per ton) and Deutschland (91 pounds per ton). The cost of the American battleships of this period, alas, was never found.
Also do not forget about Nevsky Plantwho built the cruiser II rank and destroyers.
Squad destroyers of the Falcon type - the first destroyers ("fighters") of the Russian Imperial fleet. They were distinguished by a relatively low speed with strong housings. The cost was an average of 40.931 pounds, or 186 pounds per ton. For comparison - the head "Falcon" of British construction cost 36 thousands of pounds (without weapons), comparison with other destroyers will be given below.
Destroyers of the Nevsky Plant, also known as "Nevki" - development of Sokolov. Distinguished by increased size, more powerful weapons, theoretically higher speed. 64.644 cost on average pounds per item, or 185 pounds per ton. For comparison, the British class C destroyers had a unit price of 175-180 pounds per ton, the Spanish Furors, built by the British, 186 pounds per ton. An interesting comparison will also be with foreign-made destroyers for the needs of Russia — the British Som (182 pounds per ton), the German Keith (226 pounds per ton), the French Attentive (226 pounds per ton).
Cruiser Class II "Pearls" (laid in 1902 year, entered into service in 1904) - the development of "Novik" with a lower speed, but more robust body and an extra pair of 120-mm guns. The cost of construction - 375.248 pounds, or 121 pound per ton. For comparison, Novik cost 352.923 pounds, or 130 pounds per ton, and Boyarin costs 359.206 pounds, or 112 pounds per ton.
It is also necessary to add that most often private shipyards built ships with relatively little or even negligible overload, the quality of work rarely caused complaints, and most importantly, in the absence of external obstacles (such as constant project adjustments or underfunding), private shipyards were able to build ships with speed, which was not inferior to the best shipbuilding enterprises of the West. Vivid examples are the “Pearls” (27 months from the bookmark), “Emperor Alexander III” (41 month), “Prince Suvorov” (31 month), and “Thunderstorm” (29 months).
USS "Massachusetts" in the process of completion. As practice has shown, at that time the shipyards of the USA built armored ships more expensive than the Russian ones.
The voiced conclusions are no more than my personal opinion expressed on the basis of the figures voiced above. In fact, these figures could be much smaller, but the more numbers - the more accurate the conclusions, and the more weighty the evidence base. So what happened as a result of all this word and tsifrobludiya? But it turns out that the generally accepted point of view, which for years was perceived as an axiom, looks shaky in practice and is applicable only in some cases when the project of the Russian ship itself meant a significant cost, or there were some other factors that influenced the final cost. In almost every case, there were both cheaper peers and more expensive in the world.
However, it should also be understood that the shipyards themselves played their part in pricing, as well as the quality of construction and terms. And here traditional Russian conservatism manifested itself with might and main - and the main forces of the fleet traditionally were built at state enterprises, with significant delays, and without the necessary reorganization, which could significantly speed up and cheapen the process. Something similar to the reorganization began to be carried out during the construction of battleships of the Borodino type, and finished after the NRW was over, but until that moment state-owned shipyards in the Baltic, and the Black Sea, too, were built more expensively, longer, and alas - often less quality than private shipyards, for the most part free from such shortcomings. Even the Franco-Russian plant, about which one had a chance to read a lot of bad things, was able to build Navarin and Poltava at very average prices, much less of which were only products of the best British shipyards in the world. Such ships as “Pearl”, “Rurik”, “goddesses”, and destroyers of domestic construction were not “expensive” either. Yes, some of them were really expensive, flying the treasury into a pretty penny - but much more expensive, for example, foreign-made destroyers cost the treasury. In some cases, the cost of the ships turned out really huge - the same “Oleg”, for example, even Borodino surpassed the unit cost (but also was built by an official enterprise in the shortest possible time, which could not have its price).
Alas, not all claims are so easy to drop. The claim on the quality of construction remains valid, even with the proviso that mostly state-owned enterprises suffered from it, these problems did not always manifest, and they fought and gradually dealt with this phenomenon (as soon as experienced personnel began to appreciate at state-owned factories, before “Turnover” of labor). Most often, the low quality of construction was expressed in the unreliable mechanisms of the ships and the construction overload. The problem of long-term construction remains valid, which is very characteristic not only for state-owned enterprises, but also for private ones in the period of the beginning of the 1890-s. However, it should be understood that this time is not only rapid scientific and technological progress, when the initial projects were constantly “killed” by dozens and hundreds of introduced rationalizations and alterations, but also the time of total savings: despite constant growth, the fleet had to save literally everything including stretching the financing of shipbuilding, which for the fleet was a priority even to the detriment of rearmament. If the Naval Ministry had more freedom with finances, it would be possible to build ships faster. Plus, weak consolation is that the European long-term record does not belong to us, but to the Spaniards - having refused the broad support of foreign industry and English capital, they built three “Princess de Asturias” cruisers at their own state-owned shipyards in 12-14 years old.
It is also worth throwing another stone at the state-owned shipyards of the Russian Empire regarding the cost of construction and delaying the deadlines. The fact is that the "stagnation" of state-owned enterprises was typical not only for Russia, but also for other states of the world. In many ways, these were problems of growth and progress - when in the new conditions enterprises continued to work with the old organization, which led to a drop in the speed of construction, a decline in quality and an increase in value. Practically all the “old” fleets of the world went through these problems: the Americans suffered from this for some time, the French actively fought against this, the British also suffered from grief, and even after the reorganization, state-owned shipyards often lagged behind private ones. Claims against Russia here may be relevant only in the sense that the much-needed reorganization of state-owned enterprises, like the one that was carried out abroad from the 1870-s and which was carried out in Russia only after the REA, was not carried out in time, probably because of same cost savings.
As an epilogue to the article, I can only quote a popular expression: everything is learned by comparison. Those who advanced the thesis that construction in Russia with the tsar was more expensive, either did not make such comparisons, or made them superficially, seeing what they wanted. As a result to stories The Russian Empire was added another bike, not fully corresponding to reality. The other two stories about the quality and terms of construction, have much more reason to live, but the reality is still much more complicated than simple theses “they build in Russia for a long time” and “in Russia they build poorly”. At certain times, it was the same to say about any other fleet of the world.
Ship list 1904 of the year.
From the Overall Maritime Office Report for 1897-1900 Years ”, III. Shipbuilding.
Gribovsky V. Squadron battleships like "Borodino".
Brassey's Naval Annual (different years).
Materials that are freely available on the Internet.