Boyarin (1901)

Boyarin (“Nobleman”) was a protected cruiser of the Imperial Russian Navy. She was the only foreign built cruiser to be built at Burmeister & Wain in Copenhagen, Denmark in the rapid buildup preceding the Pacific. Varyag has been built also for the Russian Pacific Fleet, but in the US, Askold in Germany, as Bogatyr, Novik prior ro this. She had therefore a fairly short career, sunk by a Russian naval mine near Port Arthur entrance after the start of the 1904 Russo-Japanese War. #ww1 #russianimperialnavy #russianavy #russkyflot #boyarin #portarthur #russojapanasewar

The Danish-built Pacific cruiser

With the acquisition of Lüshunkou (now a district of Dalian, largest PLAN shipyard), renamed Port Arthur, after the conclusion of the 1st Sino-Japanese war, the expanding Russian Empire had a windown on the Pacific in betweer waters than Vladivostok and started to rapidly increase its naval power here. The port and base, arsenal were developed and fortifications added, but the Admirakty wanted a fleet of second-rank protected cruisers, four, to reinforce it on 15 April 1899. At first a contract precised they would be built in Danzig, and on the design of the Novik tasked for reconnaissance, as scout, as despatch vessel and to support destroyer squadrons. Political pressure from the throne however revised the contracts specifications and instead if Schichau, the contract was passed onto Danish largest yard at the time, Burmeister & Wain, as the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorvna was from Denmark at the time.


The issues were many, starting with the much higher cost of the cruiser (larger than expected due to higher wages) and that the shipyard was relatively ill-equipped and inexperienced in cruiser construction, at least at this scale, seeking advices and importing many components, causing delays and extra cost. Changes were also made to the design which reinforced armament, but created conversely new stability issues, and efforts to compensate these by buffing and ballasting the crew, rising from 2,600 tons to 3,075 tons with a loss of speed. In the end, Boyarin proved inferior to Novik in speed, general layout, but also ammunition storage or mines. She was less useful overall.

Burmeister & Wain so far only had the experience of a single small protected cruiser, the 1,200 tonnes Gejser in 1892, while Copenhagen built the Heimdal (1894), earlier Hekla (1890) and Valkyrien (1888), Fyen (1882) as well as practically all the rest of the Danish fleet. This was a young yard, not familiar to military construction and later best known for its gargantuan diesels for civilian use.

The keel of Boyarin was laid of 24 September 1900. Commander V I Litvinov was present at the yard as chief equipping officer. Boyarin was launched on 26 May 1901 but there was no presence of anyone from the Imperial Russian Navy at the ceremony only attended by the Russain ambassador and lower rank personal, as well as the yard’s staff. None from the Danish Royal house as well. After launch Boxer rebellio veteran (gunboat Gilyak), Commander Vladimir Fedorovich Sarychev was appointed. Acceptance trials by June 1902 showed severe vibrations and the contracted speed of 22 knots as contracted was met with usch issues that the practical operational speed was to be reduced to 14 knots. This made the cruiser inable to perform its main tasks as scout or destroyer leader.

Design of the class

Hull and general design

Boyarin was very different from Novik. She was shorter, beamier and about 200t heavier, at 3,200 long tons (3,251 t) 105.2 m (345 ft) overall to the tip of her ram, 12.5 m (41 ft) in beam and 4.88 m (16 ft) in draught, less than Novik. Her profile could not be more different. She was symmetrical, with a forecastle and poop deck, and two equal size masts and three close together funnels forward amidships wheras Novik had only a forecastle, three heavenly spaced low funnels and a single mast.

Armour protection layout

The armour could not be procured locally, this was imported Krupp plating, 50 mm (2 in) for the turtle deck 76 mm (3 in) on the conning tower. There was no armoured belt. This was comparable to the Novik, which hower had a 2-in sloped deck and only 3-in over the machinery.


The powerplant consisted of two shafts, driven by two B&W triple expansion steam engines, fed in turn by 16 imported Belleville-type boilers. The Russians insisted on this point as they knew the model well. But the end performances were absolutely disappointing. The reciprocating vertical triple-expansion steam engines coupled with the boilers could only produce 8,600 kW (11,500 hp), and the contracted speed of 22 knots (41 km/h, 25 mph) was only met with massive vibration issues. This was bad enough to prevent any use of the artillery, at least accuratelty at this top speed. For daily operations, it was decided that, as the vibrations issues would not be cured -she was needed urgently- 14 knots would be ideal, severly restricting her usefulness.


The Main armament was a replication of the Novik, with six 120 mm (4.7 in) French Canet guns, all in shielded mountings: One at the bow and stern, four in sponsons.
6x 120 mm (4.7 in) Canet guns
8x Hotchkiss rapid fire 47 mm (1.9 in) guns
4x 37 mm (1.5 in) Hotchkiss guns
2x Maxim machine guns
5x 381 mm (15 in) torpedo tubes

120 mm 45 caliber Pattern 1892

Design by Canet, France, 1891, manufactured under licence by Obukhov, Perm. Installed on a lot of armoured and protected cruisers among others. This was the default secondary gun of the Russian Imperial Navy for two decades.

⚙ specs Canet 120 mm 45 caliber Pattern 1892

Weight 2.95 t (3.25 short tons)
Barrel lenght 5.4 m (17 ft 9 in) oa, barrel 4.2 m (13 ft 9 in)
Elevation/Traverse -7° to +20°, c170-300° arc
Loading system Breech of the piston type
Muzzle velocity 823 m/s (2,700 ft/s)
Range 11.8 km (7.3 mi) at +20°
Guidance Visual
Crew c11
Round Fixed QF ammunition 20.4 kg (45 lb) 4.7 in, 45 caliber
Rate of Fire 12-15 rpm

Anti-Torpedo Boat Armament:

Anti-torpedo boat armament consisted of eight 47 mm guns, four in the bow and stern casemates and four in midship sponsons.

Single mount 47 mm (3-pdr) Hotchkiss gun. First produced in 1885. Quickspecs: Weight, 240 kg in firing position, Barrel length 43.5 mm/47 caliber ROF 15 rpm, sighting range 4.6 km.

37 mm Hotchkiss

A model that can be dismounted to be relocated on a pintle fitted on a steam cutter. Similar to the French model Hotchkiss cannon.
Optional: Maxim-Nortdenfelt 0.8 mm machine guns

Torpedo Armament:

Five torpedo tubes with 11 torpedoes, placed one on the stern and two on each side, all above water.
Whitehead type, 15″ (381mm) Type “L”, 1898
Wargead 141 lbs. (64 kg) TNT, Range/Speed 980 yards (900 m)/25 knots or 660 yards (600 m)/29 knots

⚙ specifications

Displacement 6,500 long tons (6,604 t)
Dimensions 129.6 x 15.8 x 6.3 m (425 ft 2 in x 51 ft 10 in x 20 ft 8 in)
Propulsion 2 shafts VTE, 30 Niclausse boilers 20,000 ihp (15,000 kW)
Speed 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph)
Range 6,100 miles
Armament 12× 152mm, 12× 75mm, 8× 47mm, 2× 37 mm, 6× 381 mm TTs
Protection See notes
Crew 570

Read More


Brook, Peter (2000). “Armoured Cruiser vs. Armoured Cruiser: Ulsan 14 August 1904”. In Preston, Antony (ed.). Warship 2000–2001. Conway
Budzbon, Przemysław (1985). “Russia”. In Gray, Randal (ed.). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1906–1921. NIP
Campbell, N. J. M. (1979). “Russia”. In Chesneau, Roger & Kolesnik, Eugene M. (eds.). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1860–1905. Mayflower Books.
McLaughlin, Stephen (1999). “From Ruirik to Ruirik: Russia’s Armoured Cruisers”. In Preston, Antony (ed.). Warship 1999–2000. Conway
Watts, Anthony J. (1990). The Imperial Russian Navy. London: Arms and Armour.
A. V. Skvortsov “Cruiser II rank “Boyarin” – Series “Midship Frame”, Gangut Publishing House, St. Petersburg, 2003.
Report from the Commander of “Boyarin” to the Head of the Pacific Ocean squadron. January 30, 1904 No. 151.
“Boyarin”, Military Encyclopedia: in 18 volumes ed. V. F. Novitsky St. Petersburg. I. D. Sytin, 1911-1915.
Skvortsov A.V. Cruiser II rank “Boyarin” Popular scientific publication. St. Petersburg: Gangut, 2002.

Links boyarin.htm russ torps Russian_cruiser_Boyarin boyarin boyarin.html
wiki commons Category:Boyarin

Model Kits

Combrig 1:350 and 1:700

Boyarin’s Career 1902-1904

Boyarin received in Copenhagen her final crew before commission on 1st September 1902, and departed for the Baltic Fleet, arriving in Kronstadt on 6 October under command of Captain Sarychev, now formally. On 8 October, she as assigned to the Russian Pacific Fleet reinforcement squadron under Admiral Baron Stackelberg. However as she departed for her long trip, she broke down en route and had to be repaired in Denmark at Burmeister Yard. She at last joined the waiting squadron on 19 November, off the Isle of Portland UK, when Commander Sarychev reported to local authorities his chief engineer “died of gunshot wounds”. Boyarin managed to reach the Mediterranean, passed the Suez Canal, and detached to make a show of force in the Persian Gulf to bolster Russian political interests.
On 4 to 8 March 1903, she visited Kuwait and exchanged salutes witrh the French colonial cruiser Infernet. She carried the Russian Consul at Bushire, modern Iran to meet Ibn Saud, ruler of Najd in Kuwait at the time, for financial assistance and rifles. On 15 March Boyarin and Infernet sailed to Muscat. This was not seen well by Buckingham, as a very grave menace to British interests in the oilèrich Persian gulf. Coaling rights were refused at any British port so the Russian government officially requested help from a French collier in Djibouti to stay with her for coaling until reaching the Indian Ocean. To put things into context, there were two competing alliances at the time: The Franco-Russian alliance turned against Germany, and the British-Japanese alliance to counter the growing influence of the Russian Empire in the far east.
Boyarin eventually reached Port Arthur on 13 May 1903.

Boyarin was assigned to First Pacific Squadron fleet manoeuvers in Yellow Sea, and in June, the same took place in the Pacific Ocean. In August she took part in even more advanced training exercises, complete with gunnery drills and torpedo launched. This revealed her shortcomings were less severe as anticipated and she was even praised by Viceroy Yevgeni Ivanovich Alekseyev for her utility and low consumption of coal.
Increasing diplomatic tension between Japan and Russia however saw Boyarin reassigned to the port of Chemulpo (Incheon), Korea by December 1903 in order to protect Russian interests in the country. She stayed on station, showing the flag until relieved by Varyag on 30 December 1903 and headed back to Port Arthur.

Battle of Port Arthur

On the night of 8 February 1904, she was at the heart if the opening battle of the Russo-Japanese War: After the IJN destroyers pre-emptive night torpedo attack on the roadstead outside Port Arthur, Admiral Oskar Stark scrambled a squadron in pursuit, inclkuding Boyarin. In the confusion they fired at a Russian destroyer heading into port and folded down.
As a new Japanese squadron was approaching, Boyarin was deployed at the outer roadstead to block their arrival. This was Admiral Togo’s main battle fleet, upon which Boyarin fired three warning shots before folding back in Port Arthur, under the big guns protection, raising the alarm. In the evening, she was tasked to escort the minelayer Yenisei to Talienwan (west Port Arthur to lay the last defensive minefields) but while underway, on 11 February 1904, the minelayer struck one of the older mines.

The blast on Yenisei, built on civilian specs, was devastating. Having no compartimentation or double hull, the explosion tore down her plating, communicated to her mine storage as she exploded and sank rapidly. The blast was impressive, seen from a distance and shore-based observers reported another seemingly Japanese destroyers attack by Japanese destroyers. Thus, Boyarin was dispatched with four Russian destroyers to investigate and struck in turn one of the mines just laid by Yenisei,. It happened at 08:16 on12 February 1904. The blast killed ten crew members immediately, and she sank up to her portholes. Using Makaroff plating, the crew attempted to patch her down when she listed, Commander Sarychev eventually sw the futility of it all and ordered abandon ship. Later, an inspection team from Port Arthur looked after her. She was located further to the shoreline, grounded and with still repairable damage. But a storm hit the next night and she drifted helplessely onto two more mines or more and and sank. She was located several dys later 40 meters (130 ft) away from the shoreline, attempts of salvaging her stopped. Sarychev was court-martialled for prematurely abandoning a still repairable, only damaged ship. He was demoted and placed on shore duty (but saved his crew).

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