Protected Cruiser Varyag


On January 11, 1899, by the order of the Russian Naval Board, the cruiser was christened Varyag. Due to the never-ending discussions concerning the details of the ship’s construction the official ceremony of laying down took place only on May 10. When the construction was already in full swing, suddenly a problem arose. The armour plates were of inferior quality and new ones had to be ordered. The consecutive delay was caused by the summer strikes in the shipyard. The repeatedly rescheduled hull launching ceremony that took place on October 19, was graced by the presence of count A. P. Cassini, the ambassador of Russia to the United States. In December a ship with the armament arrived from Russia. Work on the upper deck started at the beginning of 1900. In May masts, guns and funnels were in place. However, it was already clear that the completion date, set earlier for the end of June, would not be reached. Thus the Russian side tried to obtain compensation specified in the contract signed with the shipyard. Yet, Cramp managed to avoid the penalty, as in his opinion the delays were the result of factors beyond his control (imprecise design that needed constant changes and strikes).
In the second half of May preliminary machinery and artillery tests were conducted. At the beginning of July the Varyag was dry docked for a few days in order to prepare her for the long anticipated sea trials. On July 12 the cruiser achieved the speed of 24.59 knots with a maximum of 16 198 ihp at the measured mile (higher than was required by the specifications). Three days later, twelve-hour-long machinery tests were carried out with an unfortunate result - the high pressure cylinder of the port side engine was destroyed. It was being repaired for the long two months. After successfully carried out sea trials, on September 22, the shipyard handed the cruiser over to the Russians. However, she was still far from being ready for transatlantic voyage. The emerging defects were successively being repaired until December, when the future crew of the cruiser arrived from Russia. Finally, on January 2, 1901 Varyag was officially commissioned into the Imperial Russian Navy. On March 20, she left Philadelphia heading for Kronstadt.

Hull structure

The preliminary design estimated that the hull weight would be 2 900 tons. The ship was characterized by a very good stability and seaworthiness (the freeboard was relatively high as the hull was 10.46 m tall).
In accordance with the conception of a protected cruiser, Varyag’s armour was limited to one deck made of soft homogeneous steel plates, placed at 6.48 m above the keel (on the account of machinery size, above the engine room this value grew up to 7.1 m). The armoured deck was slanted at the sides with the lower edge of the slope terminating at 1 m below the waterline. The 3/4” (19 mm) and 11/2” (38.1 mm) plates were used, riveted into double layers of 11/2” (38.1 mm, the armoured deck) and 3” (76.2 mm, slopes). They were delivered by the Carnegie Steel Company from Pittsburg. All the areas of vital importance including engine and boiler rooms as well as the magazines tightly grouped at the bow and stern, were under the protective deck. Such an arrangement was supposed to provide protection of the ship’s heart, yet it left everything above it unprotected. The design intended no vertical armour. It was somehow compensated by placing the coal bunkers at the sides, both above and below the armoured slopes. They were to absorb the impetus of a possible hit. Out of necessity there were openings in the armoured deck for flues, ammunition hoists and engine room skylights. These places were protected by additional armour. The conning tower situated in the lower part of the fore superstructure with round walls made of 6-inch armour as to increase a chance of deflecting an incoming projectile, was the best protected part of the ship. Like the majority of warships built in this time period, Varyag had practically no vertical underwater protection of the hull and thus was vulnerable to torpedo explosions, but she had a double bottom, the thickness of which doubled in the area of the magazines. The strengthened stem created an underwater ram, a feature of many warships built in that era.

Ship’s particulars (1901)
Normal displacement    approx. 6 500 t
Full load displacement    7 100 t
Length overall    129.56 m
Length on waterline    127.8 m
Beam    15.8 m
Draft at normal displacement    5.94 – 6.02 m
Armament    12×152.4 mm (12×I);
12×75 mm (12×I);
8×47 mm (8×I);
2×37 mm (2×I);
2×63.5 mm (2×I);
2×7.62 mm (2×I);
6×381 mm TT (6×I);
2×254 mm TT (2×I);
35 or 22 mines.
Armour    deck: 38.1 mm;
slopes: 76.2 mm;
conning tower: 152.4 mm.
Machinery    30 Niclausse boilers;
2 vertical triple expansion steam engines;
2 propellers.
Maximum power    Approx. 16 000 ihp
Maximum speed    24.6 knots
Normal coal capacity    720 t
Maximum coal capacity    1350 t
Endurance (at 10 knots with normal coal capacity)    3 270 nm
Endurance (at 10 knots with maximum coal capacity)    6 100 nm
Complement    approx. 560 officers and seamen

Armament