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The Battle of Chemulpo

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Protected Cruiser Varyag...

The Russian protected cruiser Varyag began its life in 1898 at the William Cramp and Sons shipyard in Philadelphia. She was commissioned into the Imperial Russian Navy on January 2, 1901.

She found her way to the Russian Asiatic fleet and was in Chemulpo Bay at the start of the war between Russia and Japan. Japan had taken the initiative to send its warships out in advance to declaring war with Russia. Much like Roosevelt did with Admiral Dewey prior to the US going to war with Spain. The Japanese arrived and caught the Russian ships in port at anchor. After a short fight while making a break toward open sea, the Varyag returned to port where her crew sank her.

The crew was taken on board several neutral ships still in the harbor, the British cruiser Talbot, the French cruiser Pascal, and the Italian cruiser Elba. The American ship in the harbor at the time, USS Vicksburg refused to take any Russian sailors as it violated US neutrality.

In 1907 Japan repaired the Varyag and pressed her into service as a training vessel, Soya. As the Soya she made several training cruises between Japan and North America. These trips began in 1909 and lasted until 1913. During World War I Russia and Japan were allies. As a show of good faith Japan returned Varyag, along with several other ships taken as prizes during the war.

She was immediately sent to England for overhaul and refit. When the Russian Revolution of 1917 started the Varyag was seized by England. She was sold to Germany in 1920 for scrapping. While under tow to be scrapped she grounded on rocks off the Firth of Clyde. She was partially scrapped in place. The remainder of the wreck sank in 1925 and no attempt has been made to recover her.

On July 30, 2006, Russian navy Day a memorial was dedicated in Lendalfoot Scotland. The ceremony was attended by high ranking Russian diplomats, military veterans, and local officials.

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About the Author

About Jim Adams (goldenpony)


Simply stunning! Thank you for this in depth article about the battle and the involved russian ships. The writing is superbly balanced giving all relevant information. I am kind of speachless at the moment and wished I could write half as good as you do. Again, thank you so much for the efforts and dedication!
AUG 19, 2009 - 02:37 AM
Hey Jim thanks for sharing! that's a very good history paper, Here is my contribyution from my small postcard collection, Varyag after scutling
AUG 19, 2009 - 03:23 AM
Thank you both. JBA, I added that postcard image to the Varyag section. Thank you!
AUG 19, 2009 - 05:44 AM
An easy to read piece of history here, and it makes the ships we build so much more interesting, and somehow gives them life and meaning. Very enjoyable, Jim. Best regards, peter F
AUG 20, 2009 - 08:22 PM
Today I posted the last review in the series of reviews dealing with the Battle of Chemulpo. I would like to take this time to thank Dariush [Dr_Who2] for taking his time to do this for MSW. Those of us who have written reviews and features for the site know how much time is required. So, writing eight was a major undertaking. Thank you all for your support and comments.
AUG 28, 2009 - 01:24 AM