Zinovy Rozhestvensky

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Admiral Zinovy Petrovich Rozhestvensky
Zinovy Petrovich Rozhestvensky1 (November 11 O.S. October 30] 1848 - January 14, 1909) was an admiral of the Imperial Russian Navy, who was in command of the Second Pacific Squadron in the Battle of Tsushima, during the Russo-Japanese War. Admiral Rozhesvensky had selected the Prince Suvorov as his flagship, one of four brand new battleships of the Borodino class (French designed) warships, for the voyage to the pacific.

Under Admiral Rozhestvensky's command, the Russian navy holds the record of sailing an all steel, coal powered battleship fleet over 18,000 miles one way, to engage an enemy in decisive battle.

Battle of Tsushima

Prior to the war against Japan, Rozhestvensky was commander of the Baltic Fleet. Tsar Nicholas II ordered Rozhestvensky to take the Baltic Fleet to East Asia to protect the Russian naval base of Port Arthur. The Tsar had selected the right man for the job, for it would take an iron fisted commander to sail an untested fleet of brand new battleships (for some of the new Borodinos, this voyage was their shakedown cruise) and new untrained sailors on the longest coal powered battleship fleet voyage in history. Admiral Rozhestvensky, a veteran of the Turkish war, had a fiery temper when dealing with a subordinate, and it was well known to both officers and men to physically stand clear of Mad Dog when a subordinate either disobeyed orders, was incompetent or both. Rozhestvensky was fully aware of the fact that he had a new untrained navy under his command and that re-coaling stations would not be available during the journey, due to Britain's alliance with Japan; and that both the shakedown testing of the new battleships and the gunnery practice/training would have to occur during the voyage. In addition, re-coaling would have to be done at sea, instead of in port as with most other navies. As a consequence of these circumstances, the mission-minded commander would sometimes fire service ammunition (live gun fire) across the bows of an errant warship, and in a fiery moment fling his binoculars from the bridge into the sea. Although Admiral Rozhestvensky was nicknamed Mad Dog only in his absence, that we know of, his iron reputation had preceded him, for when his battleship fleet set sail in 1904, Rozhestvensky's staff ensured that his flagship, Prince Suvorov, had a good supply of binoculars on board.

In the Battle of Tsushima (27-28 May 1905) a superior Japanese fleet under the command of Tōgō Heihachirō, utilized his battleship's high speed (due to clean hull bottoms) to maintain their Crossing of the "T" formation and destroyed the Russian fleet which had been heavily slowed by barnacles and other sea life brought on by the long voyage. Unable to maneuver, and with a new mission to break through to Vladivostok, Rozhestvensky charged his battleships ahead into Togo's "T". Wounded in the head by a shell fragment, Rozhestvensky was transferred to a destroyer that was eventually captured. Rozhestvensky was taken prisoner by the Imperial Japanese Navy, but some 5,000 of his men had perished. [1]. In 1906, his case was taken to court, as was each battleship commander, some facing prison, and some the firing squad for either losing the battle or surrendering on the high seas. The Tsar's court was fully aware that Admiral Nebogatov had surrendered the Russian fleet, as Rozhestvensky had been wounded and unconscious for most of the battle, and was very reluctant to accept his statements of responsibility. None the less, Admiral Rozhestvensky was adamant in his defense of his subordinate commanders and maintained total responsibility, where he pleaded guilty to losing the battle. As was expected (and hoped) by the courts, the Tsar commuted the death-sentenced captains to short prison terms and pardons for the remaining officers.

Notes

1 Рожественский. Several other transliterations are also known in English texts. See Rozhestvensky (disambiguation) for more information.

1. Novikoff-Priboy, A. TSUSHIMA. 1936. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

2. Pleshakov, Contantine. THE TSAR's LAST ARMADA: Epic Voyage to the Battle of Tsushima. 2002. ISBN 10 0465 0579 26.

3. Semenoff, Vladimir, Capt. RASPLATA (The Reckoning). 1910. London: John Murray.

4. Semenoff, Vladimir, Capt. THE BATTLE OF TSUSHIMA. 1912. NY E.P. Dutton & Co.

5. Grant, R., Captain, D.S.O. BEFORE PORT ARTHUR IN A DESTROYER. 1907. London, John Murray, Albemarle St. W.

6. Warner, Denis and Peggy. "THE TIDE AT SUNRISE, A History of the Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905." 1975. ISBN 0-7146-5256-3

7. Tomitch, V. M. "Warships of the Imperial Russian Navy." Volumne 1, Battleships. 1968.

8. Hough, Richard, A. "The Fleet That Had To Die." New York, Ballantine Books. 1960.

9. Corbett, Sir Julian. "Maritime Operations In The Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905." (1994) Originally classified, and in two volumnes. ISBN 1-557-50129-7

10. Seager, Robert. "Alfred Thayer Mahan: The Man And His Letters." (1977) ISBN 0-8702-1359-8
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    Rozhestvensky (Рожественский) is a Russian family name. A number of different transliterations can be found in English texts:
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