In 1853 – 1860 at stories domestic fleet At first glance, several mutually exclusive events occurred. During the Crimean War lost by Russia, our fleet did not lose a single battle, and at the same time won brilliantly in Sinopsky. Moreover, the fleets of the enemy coalition failed to sink a single ship of ours. And in the 1854–1855 attack on the Baltic Sveaborg and the Pacific Petropavlovsk, the Russian fleet and coastal artillery successfully repelled the Anglo-French and practically won these battles on points. But by the end of the war Russia was left without a fleet, and two years later, domestic ships sailed into the ocean. The main reason for this inconsistency was that, by the beginning of the Crimean War, Russia was late with the creation of a steam fleet, and domestic sailing ships could not resist the Allied steam ships in battle in the open sea.
It is worth noting that the situation after the Crimean War was not at all discharged. Moreover, now the threat was directed at Petersburg. Therefore, the creation of a new type of fleet was a vital issue. Along with the construction of screw ships in their shipyards, an order was made in the United States. One of the main reasons for building a new ship overseas was the fact that the USA during this period was practically the only significant friendly state of Russia, besides having a very strained relationship with our main enemy of those years - the British Empire. It was in the American shipyards that the General-Admiral propeller frigate, built according to Russian requirements, was built, which with its size and excellent road performance exceeded many battleships of that time. As it was believed at that time, “by his transition from America and then further overseas voyages, he gained fame for the best steam and sailing vessel of this kind not only in our country, but in all fleets”. But first things first…
Contemporaries of Emperor Nicholas I noted that he was not indifferent to the navy. According to his personal instructions, both individual specialists and groups of officers of the linear fleet, shipbuilding engineers were repeatedly sent abroad to study and familiarize themselves with the level of shipbuilding abroad. Much borrowed in foreign fleets was then successfully implemented in the Russian fleet (for example, the construction of the English prototype of the famous frigate Pallas), but not everything went smoothly on this way.
In the first half of 1853, through Colonel Miller New York-based company Johnson & Johnson, Colonel Miller Nicholas 1 found out about the arrival in St. Petersburg as part of the American delegation of famous shipbuilder William Webb, from whom he received information about the state of shipbuilding in the United States North American (hereinafter, for convenience, we will use the usual name - USA.). The emperor was amazed at the news that American ships built from local oak varieties serve an average of 18 years, while the average life of a Russian-built ship was ten years.
The decision was followed immediately: 2 June, the chairman of the Steamship Committee, Admiral P.I. Rikord conveyed to the General-Assistant Fleet General Admiral L.F. Bogdanovich ordered the emperor: "Discharge from America a certain amount of forest materials, consisting of white and live oak, for use to build one battleship." 26 August The Steamship Committee heard a proposal by W. Webb to build for the Russian fleet at its shipyard an 90-gun ship of the line with a steam engine with a capacity of at least 500 bun. forces and, having insured him “for the full amount”, transfer “at his own expense, fully armed, but without guns and ballast to Kronstadt”, having delivered on this ship ready kit parts for the construction of two similar battleships in Russia by the end of 1855 navigation of the year or as a deadline, early spring 1856 of the year.
On August 31, General-Admiral Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich (in coordination with the Ministry of Finance), allowed the Steamship Committee to conclude a contract with W. Webb. To coordinate his articles, reviewing and approving on-site detailed drawings and specifications of the future screw battleship in the United States decided to send the famous shipbuilder Major General M.N. Greenwald and lieutenant engineer Yu.K. Tirnstein. The latter in the future was supposed to track the "correctness" of the construction of the ship and U. Webb's observance of all the conditions of the contract. Soon they were seconded to the engineer-mechanic Lieutenant A.I. Sokolova. Arriving in the US, the Russian representatives of 1 on January 1854 met with W. Webb to familiarize themselves with the drawings of the future battleship. But they were not available. The model of the battleship presented by Webb as a prototype for drawing up the drawings was not a two-deck ship, but a large (more than 90 and length) frigate with one open and one closed battery. Moreover, it turned out that in the USA there are no factories with sufficient experience in manufacturing steam mechanical installations for battleships, especially with a propeller, and two propeller frigates that were part of the US fleet were distinguished by extremely unreliable power plants. As a result, the Russian delegation departed with nothing, except for W. Webb’s assurances that the Russian fleet needed big frigates rather than battleships. Soon the Crimean War 1853-1856. interrupted the Russian-American shipbuilding contacts.
31 March 1856, a week and a half after the conclusion of the Paris Peace Treaty, the new emperor Alexander II ordered the adjutant of Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich - captain of the 2 rank I.A. Shestakov for the continuation of negotiations with U. Webb on the order of the battleship, which was given the name "Empress Maria" by the same order, as U. Webb constantly reminded Russian diplomats in New York that the order from his battleship was sanctioned by the late Emperor Nikolai I, and at the end of the war must necessarily be implemented.
However, the urgent problems of recreating the Russian fleet were distracted by I.A. Shestakova from a trip to the United States, and returned to the question of the "American ship" only in September. Over the past six months, the view of the Russian maritime leadership on this order has changed somewhat - there has been its experience in building screw battleships. Accordingly, I.A. Shestakov immediately proposed to increase the capacity of the mechanisms of the battleship, which was supposed to be ordered in the USA, up to 700 bun. forces due to the rejection of the details of the set of one of the two battleships ordered by Webb; however, he clearly doubted the expediency of ordering a screw battleship in America. After arriving in the USA, at the beginning of 1857, I.A. Shestakov met with W. Webb, then inspected the nearest Admiralties, where naval ships and frigates of the US Navy were built and repaired. Since all monetary transactions for the payment of a future order were to be carried out through the Russian consulate in New York, then I.A. Shestakov had to establish business contacts with his employees, and it turned out that it was too early to enlist them in his allies: the consul — the 80-year-old man — was very proud, and the vice-consul (American) in further work “with any quarrel with Webb as A.I. Shestakov, - takes his side, not caring about the benefit of Russia ".
Held by IA Shestakov’s preliminary talks with a number of US shipbuilding companies about the cost of ordering various classes of warships showed that it differed slightly for propeller ships and large frigates: for example, the construction of the 90 gun ship with 500 nar mechanisms. forces under a contract with Webb would cost 889 950 dol., the same ship, but with mechanisms in 800 bun. forces would cost 1 055 950 dol., and a large (longer than 90 m) 70 gun frigate with mechanisms of the same power - 1 018 500 dol. In this regard, Shestakov is inclined to think about ordering not battleships, but two large frigates, but upon further study of the American system of construction of large military ships, he concludes that it is not advisable to order more than one frigate. But official negotiations are still ongoing about ordering a battleship.
In his letter of report from 1 March I.A. Shestakov reports that Webb is “the best of American businessmen, a good builder and a man who values his name. However, he has no experience in building warships, ”since the US government never ordered them for him. After reviewing the American military shipbuilding, I.A. Shestakov notes that the US government spends sums of money on shipbuilding with wastefulness unknown in Europe, burdened with debts, "screw frigates cost fabulous money, although so far none of them is completely over," many technical solutions were not used when building screw ships , have long been known and widely used in Europe. As for the positive side of the case, then I.A. Shestakov saw her, first of all, in the rearmament of the American fleet with bomb weapons, which was undoubtedly the merit of the naval artilleryman D.A. Dahlgren. Further, IA Shestakov proposed to limit one frigate 300 feet in length with the machine on the models of Foam or Model, not allowing any innovations with the propeller. “I propose to equip such a frigate with 70 tools (40 - 8-inch in a closed battery, on the open deck of the 26 long 30-pounds, and 4 - 60-pounds on rotating platforms that can be“ put all on one side ”) ". In the same letter, I.A. Shestakov, the first in the Russian fleet, expresses the idea of the inexpediency of installing a lifting propeller and the availability of a through-well for him in the stern, which leads "only to imaginary benefits."
On April 24, Emperor Alexander II ordered the frigate to be ordered to W. Webb for 1018 thousand dollars and named it "General-Admiral". The basis of this decision was the report of the Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich submitted by him to the emperor 4 of April, which argued in favor of ordering a frigate, namely: the 90-gun spiral ship of the line planned for an order in America should have mechanical power installation no less than 800 nar. forces, which would significantly increase the cost of its construction, while artillery armament, taking into account the installation of bomb guns (due to their relatively large mass), would be numerically reduced to 72-74 guns. As a result, the Russian fleet would have acquired an “average” battleship with slow speed, while it should be borne in mind that the Americans, who built good frigates, completely lagged behind Europe in the construction of battleships. Thus, the issue of the construction of the frigate was resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the contracting parties ...
To help IA An experienced shipbuilder, Captain A.A. Ivaschenko. Drafting the contract took almost five months. I.A. Shestakov had to convince Webb that it was necessary to provide the ship with testers, lightning rods, spare parts for the mechanism, to conduct thorough tests in American waters and that Russian representatives would not "allow mediocrity and deceivers." In this difficult way, every requirement was stipulated (and there were more than a hundred by the end of the work) on the part of the customer, of which then a contract was signed, signed on September 8 on 1857. It stated that although the frigate’s drawings at the time of signing the contract were not available, the cost of the hull was determined in 964 thousand dollars (1 dollar at the time was equal to 1 rubles. 33 cop. Silver). The frigate must be “rebuilt, armed and trimmed according to the model, drawings and specifications”, launched before 9 October 1858, armed and equipped with everything necessary handed over to IA Shestakova before 19 April 1859 g. Before this time he had to pass tests under steam and sails in sailing lasting from 5 to 10 days. ” The “Specifications of the Screw Steam Frigate for the Imperial Russian Government” attached to the contract stipulated the technical requirements for the frigate. The solemn laying of the “General-Admiral” took place the next day - 9 of September, and was held in the presence of the Russian envoy and Russian naval officers who were at that time in the United States.
Judging by the presence in the archives of the request of the Shipbuilding Technical Committee to the commander of the Kronstadt port to measure the spars on the frigate and send along with the sail drawing (similar drawings and tables were always present in the set of drawings of any Russian warship), the drawings were not transferred to Russia. According to experts, the model of the “General-Admiral” was taken from a typical “merchant” frigate, the hull of which was then re-planned for use for military purposes: 70 guns were placed, places for food stocks were allocated based on 750 people, chambers, etc. First of all, this is indicated by the very structure of the hull of this frigate — full lines, straight sides without a “military” blockage inwards, a flat bottom, a straight stem, and much more.
18 April 1858 considered the question of how to transfer the frigate to Russia. Its insurance in the United States was very high due to the significant accident rate of American shipping. Therefore, it was decided to cross the Atlantic without insurance, and the transfer of the frigate in European waters to insure in England or France, where the insurance rate was less.
September 9 frigate "General-Admiral" was safely launched. With the help of two American steamers, the frigate hull was towed to the dock, where the guests invited to descend left it. Next, the frigate was delivered to the wall of the plant “Novela Iron Works” for loading a mechanical installation. What was the new frigate for the few remaining descriptions? He carried a full sailing armament and had a propeller driven by two steam engines.
The ship's hull had an almost flat bottom, sharp formations of the extremities, a round (cruising) stern, a small forecastle without a latrine, and an almost straight stem without water cut. The frigate had three decks: the upper, battery (at their level cannon ports were cut into the sides) and residential, as well as bow and stern platforms. The boiler room was located in the nose from the engine room in the middle of the ship. The length of the boiler and engine rooms was 31,2 m, of which the boiler was 18,3 m. The shaft pipe, enclosed in the corridor of the propeller shaft, had a thrust bearing before the nose end of the stern tube. Above the stern window, an octahedral well passed through the stern platform and all the decks, into which the propeller was removed during the course of the sail.
A two-bladed propeller was driven into rotation by two direct-acting horizontal single-cylinder steam engines of simple expansion with a reverse connecting rod supplied by the American plant Novell Iron Works. The diameter of the cylinder was 2133 mm, the piston stroke - 1142 mm, the total power - 880 nar. forces (indicator - 2000 hp). The cylinders of the machines were parallel to each other on the same side of the ship and fastened with their paws to the three transverse foundations. The main steam line had a diameter of 635 mm.
On the frigate there were six (three on each side) fire-tube 8-furnace box-type steam boilers, generating steam with pressure 1,4 atm. Copper smoke tubes of boilers (433 units per boiler) with a diameter of 75 mm and length along 2,1 m were placed horizontally. The total heating surface of the boilers was 1740 sq.m., the grate area - 70 sq.m. Coal pits with a total capacity of 750 t were located in the stern of the boilers, along the sides of the boiler room and on the nose of the engine room. This reserve was sufficient for 12 daily voyage under steam. The autonomy for provisions reserves was 5 months, and for water reserves - 1,5 months.
It should be noted that the frigate was ventilated in a completely new way - using a mechanical fan. To do this, zinc pipes were laid between the frames, connected to the ducts of each side, fastened to the fan nozzle, which rotated the steam engine (also used to drive the cargo winch).
Work on the completion of the frigate advanced successfully, and the test results satisfied the Russian side. The frigate showed an average cruising speed under 14 sails, and under pairs - 12-13 bonds, as agreed in the contract. In 1859, it was decided to transfer the frigate to Kronstadt with the help of an American mercenary team. Over the 11 day with a stop in Cherbourg (France), the “General-Admiral” crossed the Atlantic and on July 3 arrived at the Kronstadt raid, where he was examined by General-Admiral Konstantin Nikolayevich and was struck by “his vastness”. 11 July, during the review of the fleet, the new frigate, according to the memoirs of contemporaries, produced a "tremendous effect." It is interesting to note that at this time William Webb arrived in St. Petersburg, unsuccessfully seeking new orders from the Russian government. By 1859, the Russian industry had become so strong that it could provide for the construction of four frigates (two for the forces of the 800 and two for the Gen. Admiral, with the steam engines for the 1000 of the forces), the decision to build which Alexander II took at the same time.
From America, the frigate arrived without artillery weapons, not counting two 3-poods (273-mm) D.A. guns. Dahlgren, purchased in the United States for use on ships of the Russian fleet, and finally armed in Russia; it should be noted that the frigate was the most stable of all the large fleet ships in terms of artillery armament, its composition practically did not change from coming to Russia and before the dismantling of the “General-Admiral” in Kronstadt.
14 July 1860, the frigate under the command of IA Shestakova went to the Mediterranean Sea for three years, changing the cable rigging to the wire ordered in England, delivered by the frigate "Oleg" on the way in the port of Villa-Franca. In 1863, the General-Admiral transported from England the built-in First-class floating battery to Kronstadt. 8 July 1866-th frigate again went to the Mediterranean Sea, where he stayed for about a year.
With the return of the frigate to the Baltic in 1868, the question arose of its overhaul. Meanwhile, the construction of the Russian fleet was shifting to a qualitatively new basis. In the same 1868, armored ships were launched into the water: the three-tower frigate Admiral Greig, the two-tower Admiral Spiridov and Admiral Chichagov, the construction of a new battleship monitor Cruiser (the future Peter the Great) began, naturally, it required a lot of money. According to the "calculations" made by the Marine Technical Committee and the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Baltic Fleet, the overhaul of the hull (timbered) of the frigate and the manufacture of new mechanisms for it would take up to 960 thousand rubles. - A considerable amount for an obviously outdated (and not only morally) frigate. The proposal of Rear Admiral A.A. Popov to rebuild the frigate into a corvette, armed with nine 9-inch rifled guns on turntables mounted on protruding projections (sponsons). It was proposed to replace the entire affected upper part with an iron structure, covering the hull in the area of the waterline with 203-mm armor. At the same time, the windage was supposed to remain the same; the capacity of the new machine will be tripled.
14 June 1869 the General-Admiral frigate was excluded from the list of ships of the fleet and dismantled a year later, while it was suggested that “suitable wooden crafts” be used in the construction of the General Admiral iron frigate.
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