Imperial Russian Armored Cruiser - 1900
The third and the last of the Ruriks, Gromoboi played a formidable part in the exploits of the Vladivostok Squadron through 1905. Her name means "Thunderer"; she is seen above on a goodwill visit to Melbourne in 1901. She was built at the Baltic Works like her two preceding near-sisters. She had a thinner (6") belt covering a somewhat wider area than the Rossiya, her immediate predecessor. She repeated that ship's boiler and propulsion arrangement. Gromoboi was the burliest appearing of the Vladivostok Squadron. She took part in both commerce raids launched by the unit in February and July of 1904, which had considerable terror value if little real economic impact. In the second of these expeditions, the Russians sank the transport Hitachi Maru, loaded with eighteen 28-centimeter (11") siege howitzers intended for the siege of Port Arthur, as well as 1,000 Japanese troops.
Gromoboi fought at and escaped from the Battle of Ulsan, Aug. 14, 1904, where her gun crews were held at station through the battle, rather than being released to seek shelter when their pieces were not engaged as in the flagship Rossiya. As a result, more than a third of Gromoboi's crew became casualties -- 87 dead and 170 wounded -- while the flagship sustained only 44 killed. After the battle the Vladivostok Squadron repaired damage at base for some months. Late in the year, Gromoboi sortied with the Bogatyr, but this last offensive operation of the Vladivostok Squadron ended in farce with both ships hard aground. Their crews were taken off, but the ships were not rescued until after hostilities ceased late in 1905.
Recalled to Europe in 1906, Gromoboi was rebuilt, completing 1911, with centerline 8" guns added bow and stern and 3"/2" armored protection added to the sided 6" weapons aft. Her masts were swapped about at this time, ending in a two-mast rig. After hostilities broke out, she was modified to serve as a fast minelayer with a capacity of two hundred mines. She fought the Germans as a unit of the Baltic Fleet's Second Cruiser Squadron, notably exchanging fire with the battlecruiser Von Der Tann at long range on August 10, 1915. Later she became part of the Red flotilla during the Civil War, taking part in the Ice Cruise of the Baltic Fleet in March 1918. Her duties done, she was consigned to the dustbin of history in 1922. She broke tow and grounded near Lipeaja on her way to the wreckers; was instead scrapped in place.
Plans and Specifications
Specifications for the Gromoboi:
Dimensions: 472'6" x 68' x 27' Displacement: 13,200 tons. Hull wood-sheathed and coppered for colonial service. Armament: (4) 8"/35 cal, (16) 6"/45 QF, (15) 47 mm 12-pdrs, and (36) smaller guns; (4) 15" torpedo tubes. Armor: Harvey type throughout. 6"/4" belt; 4" lower deck protecting the engine hatch; 6" transverse bulkheads in battery; 2" hoists, 6" casemates; 12" conning tower; 2" deck. Fuel capacity: 800 tons of coal std; 2,500 tons maximum; unknown bunker oil. Propulsion: (32) coal-fired Belleville boilers; (3) vertical triple expansion engines developing 18,000 hp, shafted to triple screw. Maximum speed: 20 kts. Endurance: 8,100 nm @ 10 knots. Crew: 800.
Dimensions: 126m x 20m x 7.9m Displacement: 13,200 tons. Hull wood-sheathed and coppered for colonial service. Armament: (4) 203 mm/35 cal, (16) 152 mm/45 QF, (15) 47 mm 12-pdrs, and (36) smaller guns; (4) 381 mm torpedo tubes. Armor: Harvey type throughout. 152/102 mm belt; 102 mm lower deck protecting engine hatch; 152 mm bulkheads in battery; 305 mm conning tower; 51 mm hoists; 51 mm deck. Fuel capacity: 800 tons of coal std; 2,500 tons maximum; unknown bunker oil. Propulsion: (32) coal-fired Belleville boilers; (3) vertical triple expansion engines developing 13,422.6 kW, shafted to triple screw. Maximum speed: 37 km/hr. Endurance: 15,001 km @19 km/hr. Crew: 800.
Gromoboi on Film
Gromoboi (center) and Rurik (left) raid Japanese shipping in February 1904. They were notorious for sinking ships rather than merely seizing them.
The Gromoboi groomed for the camera, circa 1901.
Gromoboi from off the port beam following 1911 refit, showing her commanding height and presence. Enlarge
Gromoboi with her sisters at Vladivostok. Note extra 6" gun worked in under the 8" in forward sponson. This would have been a wet position in any kind of sea.
Crewmen display Gromoboi's tattered ensign after the Battle of Ulsan.
Gromoboi at anchor embodies the characteristics of her class -- the "strong raiders."
Gromoboi - starboard quarter view. Enlarge
A wide angle does justice to the ship's huge dimensions and compelling proportions.
The photographer next gives the treatment to the ship's cruiser stern and triple screw.
A sobering postscript: Gromoboi grounded and abandoned on her way to the wreckers in 1922.