The tragedy of the battleship "Emperor Alexander III"

Sailors are a superstitious people, therefore, many of them seriously assured that the tragedy of the battleship "Emperor Alexander III" was predestined several years before its death in the Battle of Tsushima. Construction began on May 11, 1900 at the Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg, and the ceremonial launch took place on July 21, 1901. During the ceremony, a gust of wind blew off a 5-meter flagpole, which collapsed into the crowd of spectators. From a blow to the head, the gendarme colonel of Pyramidov and two students of the Naval Engineering School died.

And in 1903, during tests, the battleship scooped up water and almost capsized. But, as it turned out later, the main tests were ahead. In October 1904, the "Emperor Alexander III" left the port of Libau as part of the second squadron. The path lay in the Far East, where the Russo-Japanese war was going on at that time. Only on May 13, more than six months later, the squadron approached the Korea Strait.

The battleship "Emperor Alexander III" was manned by ranks from the Guards crew, the elite of the Russian fleet. The list of the crew included the machinist of the 2nd article Yevgeny Repin - the nephew of the great Russian painter Ilya Repin. The battleship's commander was Captain 1st Rank Nikolai Mikhailovich Bukhvostov. During the farewell banquet Bukhvostov said that there is a possibility of losing part of the crew during the voyage due to the hot climate. And the Japanese navy is much stronger than it was represented in Russia. In conclusion, the seasoned sailor uttered a prophetic phrase: "We will all die, but we will not surrender ..."

Already on May 14, 1905, the day after arrival, the battleship took part in the Battle of Tsushima. "Emperor Alexander III" was the second behind the flagship battleship "Prince Suvorov", and after its failure he led a column of Russian ships. At about 17 o'clock a fire broke out on the "Alexander III", the ship heeled heavily. The signalman managed to convey: "I am in distress", but the ship suddenly turned over abruptly, as a result of which most of the crew died.

About 15 people were able to get out on the keel of the sinking battleship, but they only managed to postpone the terrible death for a while, but did not escape. The fate of those who were in the holds at that time was also terrible, the sailors died crushed by weights or suffocated from lack of oxygen. The cruiser "Izumrud" managed to get through to the place of the tragedy. But it turned out that there was already no one to save. At about 20 hours 30 minutes "Emperor Alexander III" completely disappeared under water.

Of the entire crew, which is more than 800 people, no one was able to escape. The battleship "Emperor Alexander III" was the only ship that took part in the Battle of Tsushima, in which the entire crew died. On September 15, 1905, the ship was excluded from the lists of the Russian fleet. There was not a single witness left who could tell about the last minutes of the Russian sailors-heroes.

It was decided to perpetuate the memory of the battleship's crew; on May 15, 1908, on the day of the anniversary of the Battle of Tsushima, an obelisk was opened, installed next to the St. Nicholas-Epiphany Naval Cathedral in St. Petersburg. The ceremony was attended by the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna and her children - Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich and Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna. Despite the fact that this monument was conceived as a symbol of the memory of the crew of the battleship "Emperor Alexander III", it was often called the "Tsushima obelisk" - a monument to all those who died in this naval battle.

Bronze plates with the names of the sailors of the battleship "Emperor Alexander III with a memorable date -" May 14, 1905 "were installed on the monument. And on a round bronze plaque were inscribed the words from the Gospel: its".

The sculptor Artemy Lavrentievich Ober and the architect Yakov Ivanovich Filotey worked on the granite obelisk. The author of the sketch was Mikhail Sergeevich Putyatin, colonel of the Preobrazhensky regiment. In his youth, Putyatin graduated from the Naval School and for some time served as a midshipman in the 2nd naval crew.

After the revolution, the new government did not care much about preserving the monuments of the tsarist era, the slabs with the names of the victims were dismantled and then sent to be melted down. They were partially restored only in the seventies, but for some reason the names of many participants in the Tsushima battle were no longer on the plates.

Preserved information that terrible omens about the fate of the battleship "Emperor Alexander III" began even before its official laying at the Baltic shipyard. At first, his model was made, but it burned down in the workshop. As if someone wanted to warn of the impending tragedy. But those who made the decision on the further construction of the battleship probably did not believe in omens. Or they simply did not pay attention to them.