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Warning: Display title "Russian battleship <i>ryol</i>" overrides earlier display title "Russian battleship <i>Oryol</i>".

Russian battleship Oryol
RUS Orel 2.jpg
Oblique view of Oryol at anchor
Career (Russian Empire)
Name: Оryol (Орёл)
Namesake: Eagle
Ordered: 7 November 1899[Note 1]
Builder: Galerniy Island Shipyards, Saint Petersburg
Laid down: 1 June 1900
Launched: 19 July 1902
Completed: October 1904
Struck: 13 September 1905
Fate: Captured by Japan, 28 May 1905
Career (Empire of Japan)
Name: Iwami (石見)
Acquired: 28 May 1905
In service: June 1907
Out of service: April 1922

as 2nd-class coast defense ship, 1 September 1912

as 1st-class coast defense ship, September 1921
Struck: 1 September 1922
Fate: Sunk as target, 10 July 1924
General characteristics
Class & type: Borodino-class pre-dreadnought battleship
Displacement: 14,151 long tons (14,378 t)
Length: 397 ft (121.0 m)
Beam: 76 ft 1 in (23.2 m)
Draft: 29 ft 2 in (8.9 m)
Installed power: 15,800 ihp (11,782 kW)
20 Belleville boilers
Propulsion: 2 shafts, 2 Triple-expansion steam engines
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Range: 2,590 nmi (4,800 km; 2,980 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 28 officers, 826 enlisted men
Armament: 2 × 2 - 12 in (305 mm) guns
6 × 2 - 6 inches (152 mm) guns
20 × 1 - 75 mm (3 in) guns
20 × 1 - 47 mm (1.9 in) guns
4 × 1 - 15 in (381 mm) torpedo tubes
Armor: Krupp armor
Belt: 7.64–5.7 inches (194–145 mm)
Deck: 1–2 inches (25–51 mm)
Turrets: 10 inches (254 mm)

Oryol (Russian: Орёл) was a Borodino-class battleship built for the Russian Imperial Navy in the first decade of the 20th century. The ship was completed a few months before the start of the Russo-Japanese War in February 1904 and was assigned to the Second Pacific Squadron sent to the Far East six months later to break the Japanese blockade of Port Arthur. The Japanese captured the port while the squadron was in transit and their destination was changed to Vladivostok. Oryol was badly damaged during the Battle of Tsushima in May 1905 and surrendered to the Japanese who put her into service under the name of Iwami (Japanese language: 石見 ).

Reconstructed by the Japanese in 1905–1907, Iwami was reclassified by the Imperial Japanese Navy as a coastal defence ship in 1912. She participated in the Battle of Tsingtao at the beginning of World War I and supported the Japanese troops that landed in Siberia in 1918 during the Russian Civil War. Iwami was used as a training ship beginning in September 1921. The ship was disarmed in 1922 to comply with the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty and either sunk as a target ship or scrapped in 1924–1925.

Design and description[]

Oryol was 397 feet (121.0 m) long overall, had a beam of 76 feet 1 inch (23.19 m) and a draft of around 29 feet 2 inches (8.9 m) at deep load. Designed to displace 13,516 long tons (13,733 t), she was more than 600 long tons (610 t) overweight and actually displaced 14,151 long tons (14,378 t). This caused a problem during her sister's sea trials on 6 October 1903 when Imperator Aleksandr III made a high-speed turn that caused her to heel 15° and submerged the embrasures for the 75-millimeter (3.0 in) guns. The ship's crew consisted of 28 officers and 826 enlisted men. Her design was based on that of the Tsesarevich, modified to suit Russian machinery.[1]

The ship was powered by two four-cylinder triple-expansion steam engines using steam generated by 20 Belleville boilers. The engines were rated at 15,800 indicated horsepower (11,800 kW) and designed to reach a top speed of 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph). Oryol's engines, however, only achieved 14,176 indicated horsepower (10,571 kW) during her official machinery trials on 10 September 1904, although the ship was able to reach her designed speed. She carried a maximum of 1,350 long tons (1,370 t) of coal which allowed her to steam for 2,590 nautical miles (4,800 km; 2,980 mi) at a speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph).[2]

The ship's main battery consisted of four 12-inch (305 mm) guns mounted in two twin-gun turrets, one forward and one aft of the superstructure. The secondary armament consisted of 12 Canet 6-inch (152 mm) quick-firing (QF) guns, mounted in twin-gun turrets. A number of smaller guns were carried for defence against torpedo boats. These included twenty 75-millimeter (3.0 in) QF guns and twenty 47-millimeter (1.9 in) Hotchkiss guns. She was also armed with four 15-inch (381 mm) torpedo tubes, one each at the bow and stern above water and two submerged. Oryol's waterline armor belt consisted of Krupp armor and was 5.7–7.64 inches (145–194 mm) thick. The armor of her gun turrets had a maximum thickness of 10 in (254 mm) and her deck ranged from 1 to 2 inches (25 to 51 mm) in thickness. She had anti-torpedo bulkheads 1.5 inches (38 mm) thick.[3]


Construction began on Oryol (Eagle)[4] on 7 November 1899 at the Baltic Works in Saint Petersburg. The ship was laid down on 1 June 1900 and launched on 19 July 1901. While fitting out in Kronstadt in May 1904 in preparation for the installation of her armor, some temporary sheathing was removed that allowed water to enter and sank the ship five days later. The water was pumped out and the ship refloated without incident.[5] She was completed in October 1904[6] at the cost of 13,404,000 rubles.[7]

On 15 October 1904, Oryol set sail for Port Arthur from Libau along with the other vessels of the Second Pacific Squadron, under the overall command of Vice Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky.[8] Rozhestvensky led his squadron down the Atlantic coast of Africa, rounding Cape Horn, and reached the island of Nosy Be off the north-west coast of Madagascar on 9 January 1905 where they remained for two months while Rozhestvensky finalized his coaling arrangements. The squadron sailed for Camranh Bay, French Indochina, on 16 March and reached it almost a month later to await the obsolete ships of the 3rd Pacific Squadron, commanded by Rear Admiral Nikolai Nebogatov. The latter ships reached Camranh Bay on 9 May and the combined force sailed for Vladivostok on 14 May. With all of the additional coal and other supplies loaded for the lengthy voyage, the ship was 1,785 long tons (1,814 t) overweight; most of which was stored high in the ship and reduced her stability. The most important aspect of this, however, was that the additional weight completely submerged the ship's main armor belt.[9]

Damage to the Oryol after the Battle of Tsushima.

Rozhestvensky decided to take the most direct route to Vladivostok using the Tsushima Strait and was intercepted by the Japanese battlefleet under the command of Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō on 27 May 1905. At the beginning of the battle, Oryol was the last ship in line of the 1st Division, which consisted of all four Borodino-class battleships under Rozhestvensky's direct command. The ship fired the first shots of the Battle of Tsushima when the ship's captain, Nikolay Yung, ordered her to open fire at a Japanese cruiser that was shadowing the Russian formation at a range of 9,000 meters (9,800 yd). Rozhestvensky had not given any pre-battle instructions to the fleet covering this situation, but he ordered Yung to cease fire after 30 rounds had been fired without effect.[10]

Oryol was not heavily engaged during the early part of the battle, but she was set on fire by Japanese shells during this time.[11] About an hour after the battle began, the Japanese cruiser Chihaya fired two torpedoes at a ship that may have been Oryol, although both torpedoes missed. The Russian formation had become disordered during the early part of the battle and Oryol was second in line after her sister Borodino by 16:00. The Japanese battleships generally concentrated their fire on Borodino during this time and sank her around 19:30. Oryol was hit a number of times as well, but was not seriously damaged.[12]

Oryol took the lead after Borodino was sunk; she was joined by Rear Admiral Nikolai Nebogatov's Second Division after Tōgō ordered the Japanese battleships to disengage in the gathering darkness. Nebogatov assumed command of the remains of the fleet and they continued towards Vladivostok. The ships were discovered by the Japanese early the following morning and attacked by Tōgō's battleships around 10:00. The faster Japanese ships stayed beyond the range at which Nebogatov's ships could effectively reply and he decided to surrender his ships at 10:30 as he could neither return fire nor close the range.[13] The ship was formally stricken from the navy list on 13 September 1905.[14]

During the battle, Oryol was probably hit by five 12-inch, two 10-inch (254 mm), nine 8-inch (203 mm), 39 six-inch shells, and 21 smaller rounds or fragments. Although the ship had many large holes in the unarmored portions of her side, she was only moderately damaged as all of the four (one 12-inch and three 6-inch) shells that hit her side armor failed to penetrate. The left gun of her forward 12-inch turret had been struck by an eight-inch sell that broke off its muzzle and another eight-inch shell struck the roof of the rear 12-inch turret and forced it down, which limited the maximum elevation of the left gun. Two six-inch gun turrets had been jammed by hits from eight-inch shells and one of them had been burnt out by an ammunition fire. Another turret had been damaged by a 12-inch shell that struck its supporting tube. Splinters from two 6-inch shells entered the conning tower[15] and wounded Yung badly enough that he later died of his wounds.[16] Casualties totaled 43 crewmen killed and approximately 80 wounded.[14]

Japanese career[]

Iwami at anchor

The Japanese substantially rebuilt her at Uraga and recommissioned her in June 1907. She was renamed Iwami[17] after the ancient Japanese province of Iwami, now part of Shimane prefecture.[18] To reduce her top weight, they shortened her funnels, removed her fighting tops and cut down her superstructure.[19] She was also rearmed with Japanese-pattern 12-inch guns,[17] her twin six-inch gun turrets were removed and replaced by half a dozen eight-inch guns on pedestal mounts that were protected by gun shields. The fore and aft eight-inch guns were repositioned one deck lower, on the same level as the midships guns, and the midships 75-millimeter gun positions were plated over.[19] The 75-millimeter guns were replaced by sixteen Japanese QF 12-pounder 12 cwt[Note 2] guns[17] and two submerged broadside 18-inch torpedo tubes replaced her original torpedo armament. Her boilers were replaced by an unknown number of Japanese-built Miyabara boilers. These changes reduced her displacement to approximately 13,500 long tons (13,700 t) and her crew now totaled 750 officers and crewmen.[20]

On 1 September 1912, Iwami was reclassified as a second-class coastal defense ship. During World War I, the ship participated in the Siege of Tsingtao in August–November 1914[14] and supported Japanese troops as the flagship of the Japanese Intervention Squadron in Vladivostok in 1918 when the Japanese intervened in the Russian Civil War.[21] She was reclassified as a first-class coast defense ship in September 1921 and was used as a training ship. In accordance with the terms of the Washington Naval Agreement, Japan agreed to scrap Iwami. She was disarmed in April 1922 and used as a depot ship until she was struck on 1 September. Sources differ as to her ultimate fate; she was either sunk as a target by aircraft near Miura in July 1924 or scrapped at Kobe in 1924–1925.[14]


  1. All dates used in this article are New Style
  2. "Cwt" is the abbreviation for hundredweight, 12 cwt referring to the weight of the gun.


  1. McLaughlin, pp. 136–38, 140
  2. McLaughlin, pp. 137, 144
  3. McLaughlin, pp. 136–37
  4. Silverstone, p. 380
  5. McLaughlin, pp. 136, 138
  6. Chesneau & Kolesnik, p. 184
  7. McLaughlin, pp. 136, 142
  8. Forczyk, p. 9
  9. McLaughlin, pp. 141, 167
  10. Forczyk, pp. 56, 58
  11. Forczyk, p. 63
  12. Campbell, pp. 131–32, 135
  13. Forczyk, pp. 70–71
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 McLaughlin, p. 146
  15. Campbell, p. 238
  16. Forczyk, p. 25
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Jentschura, Jung & Mickel, p. 21
  18. Silverstone, p. 331
  19. 19.0 19.1 McLaughlin, p. 452
  20. McLaughlin, pp. 452–3
  21. Preston, p. 193


  • Campbell, N.J.M. (1978). Preston, Antony. ed. The Battle of Tsu-Shima, Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4. II. London: Conway Maritime Press. pp. 46–49, 127–35, 186–92, 258–65. ISBN 0-87021-976-6. 
  • Chesneau, Roger; Kolesnik, Eugene M., eds (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. Greenwich, UK: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4. 
  • Forczyk, Robert (2009). Russian Battleship vs Japanese Battleship, Yellow Sea 1904-05. Oxford, UK: Osprey. ISBN 978 1-84603-330-8. 
  • Jentschura, Hansgeorg; Jung, Dieter; Mickel, Peter (1977). Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869–1945. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. ISBN 0-87021-893-X. 
  • McLaughlin, Stephen (2003). Russian & Soviet Battleships. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-481-4. 
  • Pleshakov, Constatine (2002). The Tsar's Last Armada: The Epic Voyage to the Battle of Tsushima. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-05791-8. 
  • Preston, Antony (1972). Battleships of World War I: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Battleships of All Nations 1914–1918. New York: Galahad Books. ISBN 0-88365-300-1. 
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (1984). Directory of the World's Capital Ships. New York: Hippocrene Books. ISBN 0-88254-979-0. 

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