Panteleimon (formerly Potemkin), 1906
Photos Renders of Model


Statistics

Construction Builder - Nicolaiev; Laid Down - February 1898; Launched -  October 1900; Completed - November 1903; Broken Up - 1922
Dimensions Length -378 feet 6 inches (115.36m) oa; Beam - 73 feet (22.25m); Draught - 27 feet (8.23m); Displacement - 12,582 tons
Armament Four 12-Inch/40 (305mm); Sixteen 6-Inch/45 (152mm); Fourteen 11pdr 3-Inch (76mm); Six 3pdr 47mm QF; Five 18-Inch (456mm) Underwater Torpedo Tubes
Armor Belt - 6 inches to 9 inches; Casemates - 5 inches to 6 inches; Turrets - 10 inches; Deck - 2 1/2 inches to 3 inches; Conning Tower - 9 inches
Machinery Two Vertical Triple Expansion Engines (VTE), Twin Screws; Designed shp 10,600; Actual shp 11,300; 22 Belleville Boilers; Maximum Speed - 16 knots; Range - 1,750 nm @ 16 knots; 3,400 nm @ 10 knots
Complement 26 Officers, 715 Enlisted


Design

Commissioned in 1903, the
Kniaz Potemkin Tavricheskii (Князь Потемкин Таврический)was a first attempt by the Imperial Russian Navy to build a battleship for the Black Sea Fleet that would be the equal of the best designs built by rival naval powers. One of the first Russian battleships to mount the 12-Inch/40 main gun in two twin "French style" turrets, the Kniaz Potemkin Tavricheskii had a very strong secondary battery of 16 6-Inch/45 guns.

The top speed was only 16 knots however, unremarkable by contemporary standards, and the range was limited by the very low coal supply (1,100 tons), a consequence of the armour and armament taking so much internal space. It was a rather short-ranged, slow but heavily armed and protected design that was easily superior to any ennemy battleship she could hope to encounter in the Black Sea, the other local power with a decent navy being Turkey, a much weaker adversary.

Interestingly, the
Kniaz Potemkin Tavricheskii  was seminal in the sense that her design served as a base for Charles Cramp of Philadelphia to build the Retvizan, another battleship for the Tsar's Navy. Cramp then went on to build battleships for the US Navy that bear a striking ressemblance to the Kniaz Potemkin Tavricheskii .


Operational History

Commissioned in 1903, the Kniaz Potemkin Tavricheskii served a long and eventful career in the Black Sea Fleet. On June 27, 1905 Kniaz Potemkin Tavricheskii was away from the rest of the fleet for firing practice. Mutiny broke out about rotten meat. Officers were murdered and mutineers took control of the ship. The Kniaz Potemkin Tavricheskii raised the red flag of revolt and for the next eleven days steamed about the Black Sea, with the fugitives finding refuge in Romania.

The battleship arrived back in Sevastopol on August 9, 1905. Under the old Russian calendar, the day was July 27, the day when the Orthodox Russian Church celebrated Saint Panteleimon. The Kniaz Potemkin Tavricheskii  was renamed Panteleimon (Пантелеймон). For the next twelve years she sailed under that name.

The Russian Black Sea Fleet held control of the Black Sea until 1914. Turkey had ordered two modern dreadnoughts from Great Britain that Russia countered by laying down four modern dreadnoughts at the yards at Nikolaiev, the same that had built PanteleimonFirst Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill had the two Turkish battleships seized and added to the British Grand Fleet. As a result the Imperial German battlecruiser Goeben, along with the light cruiser, Breslau, that had been the Hochseeflotte's Mediterranean squadron, were presented to Turkey but remained with German crews and under German control, with Admiral Souchon in command. Goeben became Yavuz Sultan Selim and Breslau became Medilli.

The Russian Black Sea Fleet's battleship brigade consisted of five predreadnoughts, Evstafei, Ioann Zlatoust, Panteleimon, Tri Sviatitelia and the second class battleship RostislavThe Russians had devised a very clever system to coordinate the fire of their three best battleships that in fact fired as a notional  Dreadnought broken into 3 components, fielding a very respectable 12 12-Inch main battery. The guns, crews and ammunition had improved much since the disastrous Russo-Japanese was of 1904-1905, a fact largely unnoticed by the Germans. The Russian Black Sea Fleet felt confident that its elderly battleships could hold their own even against the mighty Goeben, and Admiral Ebergard mounted a series of daring raids against the Turkish coast.

At the occasion of a Russian sortie on November 18, 1914 Goeben met the five battleships of the battleship brigade and the rest of the Russian squadron off Cape Sarych, twenty miles south of Yalta. In a 14 minute engagement, Goeben demonstrated that even a powerful modern battlecruiser could not take on five predreadnoughts together without risking critical damage. With Goeben cut off from any yard capable of repairing her if seriously damaged, Admiral Souchon could not take that risk. Goeben was hit only once in a secondary battery and managed to inflict serious damage to the Russian flagship Evstafei. But Evstafei.'s opening salvo caused serious enough damage to convince Souchon that he could not win the day.

Panteleimon fired many salvos during the engagement but scored no hit, nor suffered any damage. After the battle, the whole squadron reverted to their raiding operations against the Turkish coast. With the first of the new Russian dreadnoughts, Imperatritsa Mariya, joining the fleet at Sevastopol,  the predreadnoughts took on a supporting role until the end of the war. 

In February 1917 the Imperial Government collapsed and the Kerensky regime renamed Panteleimon back to Potemkin, then changed her name into Borets za Svobodu (Борец за свободу - Freedom Fighter). In April 1918, the Germans seized the ship in Sevastopol. In December 1918, the White Russian forces with the western allies took over Sevastopol and the remaining ships of the fleet. The British destroyed all of the machinery on the battleships on April 25, 1919. Borets za Svobodu was slowly broken apart between 1922 and 1924.


Sources and Recommended Readings