As you know, the cruiser "Pearl" was the only Russian armored cruiser of the 2nd rank, which took part in the Russian-Japanese war and survived until its end. In the proposed material, the author will consider his future fate.
At the end of the Tsushima battle, “Pearl” together with “Aurora” and “Oleg” arrived in Manila. This happened on May 21, 1905. It was assumed that the Russian cruisers would be able to get coal there and the minimum repair required after the battle. However, on May 24, an ultimatum was transmitted from Washington: either leave the port within 24 hours, or disarm. There was nothing left (there was no coal) and, with the consent of St. Petersburg, the ships disarmed, handing over the locks of guns to the Americans and pledging not to participate in the hostilities.
At the end of the war, the cruisers were given the opportunity to carry out some kind of repair and get supplies for the ocean crossing; by October 5, 1905, everything was ready. It is interesting that on September 28, Zhemchug went on machine tests, reaching a speed of 2 knots below the contract, that is, 22 knots. Given the fact that the ship on acceptance tests showed 23,04 knots, the figure is very outstanding.
An interesting discrepancy in the sources about the date of the departure of the Russian cruisers from Manila: A.A. Alliluyev and M.A. Bogdanov write that this happened on October 14, V.V. Khromov - on the 15th. I must say that there is generally a lot of confusion with dates in the sources: for example, according to A.A. Alliluyev and M.A. Bogdanov, American Admiral Reuters informed O.A. Enquist that his cruisers are free on September 24, and according to V.V. Khromov happened on October 9th. But, in any case, in Manila, the paths of the Russian cruisers diverged forever. “Oleg” and “Aurora” were returning to the Baltic, while “Pearls” were to carry out further service in the Far East. Together with the cruiser Askold, he was to make up the backbone of the Siberian flotilla.
The "Pearl" arrived in Vladivostok in October 1905 and landed in a real "hornet's nest": revolutionary fermentation was very strong in the city. This is not surprising. The Russo-Japanese War was lost, which could not add to the popularity of Nicholas II among the people. At the same time, the conditions in which many military units of Vladivostok were forced to exist could be called Spartan: life in a tent and very poor food rations, delayed demobilization. It is clear that under such conditions, any agitation had the most fertile soil. As for the Pearl sailors, it must be remembered that a serious decline in discipline was noted (and was extremely unexpected for officers) back in Manila. And therefore it is not surprising that already in November of the same year the Pearl team was listed as unreliable. It blazed on January 10, 1906, when two armed sailors arrived on the cruiser and demanded to let the crew go ashore. The Pearl commander could not do anything, and the sailors, armed with rifles, left. That day, a large crowd after a rally of thousands headed to the center of Vladivostok in order to demand the release of the participants in the previous uprising (1905), but was met by the fire of Cossack units, with 30 killed and 50 injured.
Demonstration organized during the funeral of the victims on 10.01.1906. Photo: noel-17.livejournal.com
But then the entire garrison joined the rebellion, so that from January 11 Vladivostok was in the hands of the rebels, despite the fact that the commandant of the fortress was wounded. However, in the future it all ended surprisingly peacefully. The new commandant managed to agree with the executive committee of the rebels, so that the soldiers and sailors obeyed the military command. In any case, the arrival of the detachment of Lieutenant General P.I. Nobody obstructed Mishchenko, equipped to pacify the rebellion, and Vladivostok was completely occupied with it.
What was the role of the Pearls sailors in all this? It is known that they, among other sailors from other ships and vessels, answered the Cossacks with fire on January 10. True, A.A. Alliluyev and M.A. Bogdanov claim that on the evening of the same day the team quietly and peacefully returned to the cruiser, but there are certain doubts about this: it can be assumed that this happened after the uprising ended. However, the author of the article does not have accurate data on this subject.
Interestingly, the artillery officer of the "Pearls" M.M. was somehow involved in the uprising. Domershchikov. Acting as the ship's auditor, he took at the cash desk 22 rubles. and transferred them to the Committee for Assistance to the Rebels, for which he was subsequently brought to trial.
In any case, the authorities, of course, were not going to let the matter go “on the brakes” at all - almost the entire Pearl team was written off to the shore, and 10 people were convicted by the court. The new team, appointed to the cruiser, was completely trustworthy, at least in the next uprising, which happened in 1907, it did not show itself. Moreover, in November 1907, Zhemchug pacified the rebel team of the Shilka messenger ship, which was at the time of the rebellion off the coast of Kamchatka. Unfortunately, there is little information about this episode of the ship’s service, most likely because the authorities didn’t do this time “out of molehills” and tried to shut up this matter. Nevertheless, in the newspaper Novoye Vremya No. 11360 for November 27, 1907, a note was published stating that the "Pearls" intercepted "Shilka", which, however, just did not give up and turned out to be a uniform naval battle, during which both ships got some damage. Nevertheless, the Shilka team was brought to humility, which was the end of the matter.
Terrible opponent of the Pearl
Unfortunately, there is very little data about the Pearl service between wars. The most famous sources describe it in just a few paragraphs.
In 1906, the cruiser underwent some kind of repair, or at least docking: it is known that soon after leaving the dock the cruiser rammed the harbor ship “Zealny”, which caused damage to the stem and two sheets of plating, the correction of which cost the treasury in 1 400 rub. But it is clear that this repair was cosmetic: already in 1908, the new commander of the "Pearl" S.S. Vyazemsky reported in his report that “further cruising of a cruiser without proper repair should be considered absolutely dangerous in the sense of preserving at least the relative serviceability of the mechanisms”. It can be assumed that the cancellation of old-timers and the “revolution instead of repairs” did not benefit the ship at all: in June 1908, only 7 out of 16 boilers operated on the Pearl and it could only walk under one (medium) machine. Moreover, in theory, the cruiser could develop 14 knots with them, but in practice more than 10-11 knots. could not go. That is, in military terms, the ship turned into some obscure, but very voracious gunboat - the daily consumption of coal reached 110 tons. Of course, some repairs were carried out by the crew, but it was obvious that this was completely insufficient.
However, the service was running. In 1907-1909 "Pearls" rigorously performed the prescribed shooting exercises, walked along the bays of Primorye, or was a hospital in Shanghai. In 1907, the "Pearl" was sent to help the French cruiser "Chanzi" in distress, but this expedition, alas, was unsuccessful. By the time the Pearl arrived, the Chanzi had completely crashed on the rocks off the coast of China. The cruiser also had a chance to visit Japan - in 1908 he brought a new ambassador there.
Probably the most sad event should be considered a “meeting” with the same type of “Pearl” “Emerald”. The cruisers broke up in the battle of Tsushima, on the night of May 14-15, 1904, and on October 1, 1908 they “met”. "Pearls" together with "Askold" went into the bay of St. Vladimir, when the dismantling of the surface part of the cruiser blown up by its commander was in progress.
Finally, in December 1909, “Pearls” were put into overhaul in Vladivostok, which took almost a year, until October 1910. The list of defects compiled in September 1909 was 282 items for the power plant, 273 for the building, 114 - in the mine part, 60 in artillery. I must say that much that was needed to repair the cruiser was ordered in advance, and all work was carried out by the Vladivostok Mechanical Plant.
Despite the duration of the work, perhaps we can say that the cruiser received only a repair repair, and even then not in full. In any case, the speed of the ship, apparently, did not recover: its commander K.P. Ivanov the thirteenth reported that she was "19-20 knots or more." The composition of the weapons did not change, except that the propelling mines of steam boats were taken ashore, and Baranovsky’s landing guns were replaced with machine guns, but this happened even before the ship was repaired. Another "innovation" - the removal of two bow 47-mm guns with the alteration of the vacant cellars for 120-mm rounds was carried out later, in 1911.
Perhaps the only "improvement" made during the repair of 1910 was the abandonment of two masts - the "Pearls" became single mast, which was the founder of his series, the cruiser Novik.
In 1911, the "Pearl" entered the campaign with the flagship of the Siberian Flotilla, but there was nothing more interesting with it in the period from 1911 to 1912. did not happen. Maneuvers, exercises, flag demonstration, hospital service. But on June 9, 1913 the ship was sent to the shores of China, where a revolution broke out. The Pearl arrived in Shanghai, where it became part of the international squadron, and the Japanese admiral commanded it. Then the Russian cruiser went abroad, returned to Vladivostok only on May 16, 1914 - and immediately got on the current dock repair, during which the cars were rebuilt, boilers were cleaned, the underwater part was cleaned and painted.
On the one hand, in view of the foregoing, it can be assumed that the “Pearl” entered the First World War quite technically ready. However, further events allow one to doubt this. In addition, the Pearl, apparently, could no longer be considered a high-speed cruiser and, probably, reached a speed of no more than 20 knots, although again the author does not have exact data about this.
On June 1914, 2, his last commander, captain of the 1909nd rank, Baron Ivan Cherkasov, who served as senior officer at the Pearl in 1911-XNUMX, took command of the cruiser.
The cruiser met the beginning of the war in Vladivostok together with Askold and other ships of the Siberian Flotilla. But soon England, the Lady of the Seas, “laid a paw” on our cruisers: they really wanted there that Askold and Pearl would join the Allied squadron under the command of British Vice Admiral T.M. Jerram. I must say that the Minister of the Sea of Russia I.K. Grigorovich categorically did not want such a unity, but the commander of the Siberian Flotilla M.F. von Schulz, having somehow obtained the personal permission of Nicholas II, nevertheless sent Askold and Pearls to the British.
On the one hand, the transfer of our cruisers to the British command seemed quite reasonable and adequate action. In the Far East, the Germans held the so-called East Asian squadron, which at the beginning of World War I included the armored cruisers Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and the light cruisers Emden, Leipzig and Nuremberg. In addition, the composition of this compound also included 4 seafaring and 3 river gunboats, a mine layer and 2 destroyers.
Thus, the squadron of the German Navy in Asia tremendously exceeded the strength of our Siberian flotilla, but was completely lost amid the might of the allied Japanese fleet and British ships. Under these conditions, some kind of German attack on Vladivostok or other points of the Russian coast looked like insane frenzy. The only form of combat that was accessible to the commander of the German forces, M. von Spee, was to go into the ocean and start a cruising war there, as a matter of fact, he did.
The war found von Spee in the Caroline Islands. He hastily gathered his armored and light cruisers off the Mariana Islands, where he held advice with his commanders. Then the German admiral went to Chile, since the Chilean government was very friendly to the German one and von Spee expected to get support there with fuel and supplies, and maybe even repair. At the same time, light ships remained in Qingdao, a German colony in China: von Spee absolutely rightly believed that Qingdao would soon be blocked and captured, but could not prevent it. At the same time, the blockade of Qingdao deprived him of the only point on which his squadron could be based, so there was no point in staying off the coast of China for the main forces of the von Spee squadron. But with the support of Chile, it was possible to successfully “piracy” in the South Atlantic, at least for some time.
And only the commander of the light cruiser Emden, Karl von Muller, had a slightly different opinion and believed that he could achieve greater success if he stayed and started raiding in the Indian Ocean. Von Spee allowed him this, and Emden separated from the main forces of the squadron.
In view of the foregoing, our cruisers definitely had nothing to do in Vladivostok. They should have just got into communication with the aim of catching the Emden and other (auxiliary) German cruisers, if any. And most effectively, this could be done as part of the Allied squadron. So, from the point of view of formal logic, the reluctance of I.K. Grigorovich to give under the British command "Askold" and "Pearls" looks at least strange.
But this is on the one hand. But on the other ... Perhaps the Russian naval minister was not so wrong, not wanting to transfer the cruiser to the British.
Under British command
The Russian cruisers arrived on the Hong Kong raid on August 16, but by this time our fleet had already suffered the first loss. The fact is that the German cruiser Emden on the night of August 3–4, 1914 (that is, before sending it to independent cruising) near the Tsushima island captured the steamboat of the Russian Voluntary Fleet Ryazan. The prize batch from Emden brought Ryazan to Qingdao, where he was armed with eight 105-mm guns from the old and completely unstable German cruiser Kormoran. Without thinking twice, the Germans called the Ryazan "Kormoran" and enrolled him in Kaiserlikhmarin in the status of an auxiliary cruiser. However, the new “Cormoran” did not achieve any military success, but anyway, losing the Ryazan was unpleasant.
Cormoran in Guam
Could it be that Ryazan could have been saved if the idea of sending Askold and Pearls to Hong Kong had not arisen? Frankly, this is extremely doubtful. Nevertheless, there is a fact: while the Russian cruisers were going to defend the oceanic communications as part of the British squadron, we received an insulting click on the nose of Fr. Tsushima, that is, not too far from our shores. However, in fairness, we note that in the future, "Emden" piracy already in the Indian Ocean.
Well, “Askold” and “Novik” joined in the usual combat work. Already on August 19, they went cruising in search of the Emden and the coal miners supplying it, but on August 22 they split. The enemy was not found, and both cruisers returned to Hong Kong - when exactly this happened, the author does not know A.A. Alliluyev and M.A. Bogdanov only reported that on August 30, Askold and Pearl met in Hong Kong. Alas, for the last time.
On September 14, the Pearl drove the Amiral Orli transport from Hong Kong to Haiphong, which was supposed to pick up the French infantry and reservists from China from there. Then the Russian cruiser escorted transport to Saigon and then to Singapore. September 30, after a five-day break, I.A. Cherkasov received a new order: to escort 4 vehicles to Penang, where they will have to wait for the British cruiser Yarmouth, and then go on an independent cruise to the Nicobar and Andaman Islands. The Pearl fulfilled the task exactly and then returned to Penang on October 13, where it was destroyed by the cruiser Emden at dawn on October 15.
And here, of course, the whole time raises the eternal question: "Who is to blame?"
To be continued ...