The cruiser Varyag has become a truly legendary ship in Russian history. Meanwhile, for the Russian fleet, the results are disappointing.
True, then two domestic ships were opposed at once by a whole Japanese squadron. It is worth restoring historical justice and debunking some myths about the glorious cruiser Varyag.
The Varyag was built in Russia. The vessel is considered one of the most famous in the history of the Russian fleet. It is obvious to assume that it was built in Russia. Nevertheless, the Varyag was laid down in 1898 in Philadelphia at the William Cramp and Sons shipyards. Three years later, the ship began to serve in the domestic fleet.
Varyag is a slow ship. Poor quality work during the creation of the vessel led to the fact that it could not accelerate to the 25 knots prescribed in the contract. This nullified all the advantages of a light cruiser. After a few years, the ship could no longer sail faster than 14 knots. The question of returning the Varyag to the Americans for repair was even raised. But in the fall of 1903, the cruiser was able to show almost the planned speed during trials. Steam boilers of Nikloss served faithfully on other ships, without causing any complaints.
Varyag is a weak cruiser. Many sources believe that the Varyag was a weak enemy with a low military value. The lack of armor shields for main battery guns caused skepticism. True, Japan in those years, in principle, did not have armored cruisers capable of fighting on equal terms with the Varyag and his counterparts in the power of weapons: "Oleg", "Bogatyr" and "Askold". No Japanese cruiser of this class had twelve 152 mm guns. But the hostilities in that conflict developed in such a way that the crews of domestic cruisers never had to fight with an enemy equal in number or class. The Japanese preferred to engage in battle, having an advantage in the number of ships. The first battle, but not the last, was the battle at Chemulpo.
"Varyag" and "Koreyets" received a hail of shells. Describing that battle, Russian historians talk about a whole hail of shells that fell on Russian ships. True, nothing got into the Koreyets. But official data from the Japanese side refutes this myth. In 50 minutes of the battle, the six cruisers used up a total of 419 shells. Most of all - "Asama", including 27 caliber 203 mm and 103 caliber 152 mm. According to the report of Captain Rudnev, who was in command of the Varyag, the ship fired 1105 shells. Of these, 425 - 152 mm caliber, 470 - 75 mm caliber, another 210 - 47 mm. It turns out that as a result of that battle, the Russian artillerymen managed to show a high rate of fire. About fifty more shells were fired by the "Korean". So it turns out that two Russian ships during that battle fired three times more shells than the entire Japanese squadron. It remains not entirely clear how this number was calculated. Perhaps it appeared based on a survey of the crew. And could a cruiser have fired so many shots, which by the end of the battle had lost three-quarters of its guns?
Rear-Admiral Rudnev was in command of the ship. Returning to Russia after his retirement in 1905, Vsevolod Fedorovich Rudnev was promoted to Rear Admiral. And in 2001 a street in Yuzhny Butovo in Moscow was named after the brave sailor. But it is still logical to talk about the captain, and not about the admiral in the historical aspect. In the annals of the Russo-Japanese War, Rudnev remained the captain of the first rank, the commander of the Varyag. As a rear admiral, he never showed himself anywhere. And this obvious mistake even crept into school textbooks, where the rank of the commander of the "Varyag" is incorrectly indicated. For some reason, no one thinks that the rear admiral is not by status to command an armored cruiser. The two Russian ships were opposed by fourteen Japanese. Describing that battle, it is often said that the cruiser "Varyag" and the gunboat "Koreets" were opposed by a whole Japanese squadron of Rear Admiral Uriu of 14 ships. It included 6 cruisers and 8 destroyers. Still, there is something worth clarifying. The Japanese never took advantage of their huge quantitative and qualitative superiority. Moreover, initially there were 15 ships in the squadron. But the destroyer Tsubame ran aground during the maneuvers that prevented the Koreyets from leaving for Port Arthur. Was not a participant in the battle and the messenger ship "Chihaya", although it was located close to the battlefield. In fact, only four Japanese cruisers fought, two more occasionally entered the battle. The destroyers only indicated their presence.
Varyag sank a cruiser and two enemy destroyers. The issue of military losses on both sides is always hotly debated. So the battle at Chemulpo is assessed differently by Russian and Japanese historians. Russian literature mentions heavy losses of the enemy. The Japanese lost a submerged destroyer, 30 people were killed, about 200 were wounded. But these data are based on reports from foreigners who watched the battle. Gradually, one more destroyer began to be included in the number of those sunk, as was the cruiser Takachiho. This version was included in the film "Cruiser" Varyag ". And if one can argue about the fate of the destroyers, the cruiser "Takachiho" passed the Russo-Japanese war quite safely. The ship with all its crew sank only 10 years later during the siege of Qingdao. The Japanese report does not say anything at all about the losses and damage to their ships. True, it is not entirely clear where, after that battle, the armored cruiser Asama, the main enemy of the Varyag, disappeared for two whole months? At Port Arthur, he was not, as well as in the squadron of Admiral Kammimura, who operated against the Vladivostok squadron of cruisers. But the hostilities were just beginning, the outcome of the war was unclear. It can only be assumed that the ship, at which the Varyag mainly fired, was nevertheless seriously damaged. But the Japanese decided to hide this fact in order to promote the effectiveness of their weapons. A similar experience was noted in the future during the Russian-Japanese war. The losses of the battleships Yashima and Hatsuse were also not immediately recognized. The Japanese quietly wrote off several sunken destroyers as unsuitable for repair.
The history of the Varyag ended with its flooding. After the ship's crew switched to neutral ships, the Kingstones were opened on the Varyag. He sank. But in 1905, the Japanese raised the cruiser, repaired and commissioned it under the name Soya. In 1916, the ship was bought by the Russians. The First World War was going on, and Japan was already an ally. The vessel was returned to its former name "Varyag", it began to serve in the fleet of the Arctic Ocean. At the beginning of 1917 "Varyag" went to England for repairs, but was confiscated for debts. The Soviet government had no intention of paying tsarist bills. The further fate of the ship is unenviable - in 1920 it was sold to the Germans for scrap. And in 1925, while being towed, he sank in the Irish Sea. So the ship is not resting off the coast of Korea.
The Japanese modernized the ship. There is information that the Nikolos boilers were replaced by the Japanese with Miyabara boilers. So the Japanese decided to modernize the former Varyag. It's a delusion. True, it was not without repairing the cars. This allowed the cruiser to achieve a course of 22.7 knots during trials, which was less than the original.
As a sign of respect, the Japanese left the cruiser a plate with his name and the Russian coat of arms. This step was not associated with a tribute to the memory of the heroic history of the ship. The construction of the "Varyag" played a role. The coat of arms and the name were mounted in the aft balcony, it was impossible to remove them. The Japanese simply cemented the new name, Soya, on either side of the balcony railing. No sentimentality - sheer rationality.
“The death of“ Varyag ”is a folk song. The feat of the "Varyag" became one of the bright spots of that war. It is not surprising that poems were composed about the ship, songs were written, pictures were written, a film was shot. At least fifty songs were composed immediately after that war. But through the years, only three have come down to us. "Varyag" and "Death of the Varyag" are best known. These songs, with minor changes, are heard throughout the entire feature film about the ship. For a long time it was believed that "The death of the Varyag" is a folk creation, but this is not entirely true. Less than a month after the battle, Y. Repninsky's poem Varyag was published in the newspaper Rus. It began with the words "Cold waves are splashing." These words were set to music by the composer Benevsky. I must say that this melody was consonant with many military songs that appeared during that period. And who was the mysterious J. Repninsky, it was not possible to establish. By the way, the text of "Varyag" ("Up, comrades, everyone is in place") was written by the Austrian poet Rudolf Greinz. The well-known version appeared thanks to the translator Studenskaya.