1908-09-10 The Trials of the RURIK

London Times, 10 September 1908, p. 4: “The Trials of the RURIK”

            The RURIK, ready for service in the Russian navy, has just left this country for St. Petersburg, having been taken over by the Russian authorities from the builders on Saturday, September 5. The vessel is remarkable in several respects, combining a commendable compromise of the conflicting qualities of offence, defence, speed and tactical endurance.

            As regards speed, which appeals most directly to the layman, the contract required that a rate of 21 knots should be maintained for ten hours; the RURIK maintained 22 knots with ease, the triple expansion engines developing 20,675 indicated horse-power, and driving the twin screws at 141.6 revolutions per minute. This ten hours’ performance was repeated with equally good results on the 24 hours’ “acceptance” trial. British warships are seldom required to maintain full power on this acceptance trial for more than one hour, but the Russian Commission requested Messrs. Vickers to maintain it for ten hours, and this was done with most satisfactory results. The unusual 30 hours’ endurance trials were also run, one with eight of the 28 boilers in use, when 3,039 indicated horse-power was maintained, and the other with 21 boilers, when the power was 13,359 indicated horse-power. The tests prescribed prove that the RURIK is capable of maintaining a speed one mile per hour in excess of the 21 knots contracted for, and that this can be continued even with many of the boilers out of action.

            The same vigilance on the part of the Commission and the same satisfactory performances characterized the ordnance tests. The RURIK, in her main battery, mounts guns of two calibres, and in this respect satisfies a school of naval artillerists who are not too favourably disposed to the exclusion of medium calibre guns in later ships. The RURIK has four 10in. and eight 8in. guns. The former are mounted in pairs in a centrally situated barbette forward and aft; the 8in. guns are placed in pairs in barbettes on the four quarters. This gives a heavy bow and stern attack, in each case two 10in. and four 8in. guns. These guns are each 50 calibres in length and the most powerful of their type yet made. Another important point, conducive to fighting efficiency, is the high angle of fire arranged for. The 10in. guns, for instance, have a range of 35 degrees of elevation and 5 degrees of depression, and the arc of training is correspondingly extensive. These conditions involved great experience in the design of gun mountings and hull structure, which were carefully tested by the Commission. In the first place, an extra gun of each calibre was made exactly corresponding with those fitted in the ship and from this gun 100 rounds of ammunition – full charges – were fired to test the construction. After the guns were fitted to the ship, 30 rounds were fired from two of the 10in. guns and two of the 8in. guns, and 15 from the other guns of these calibres, all at various angles of elevation and depression, and at various bearings. The mechanism of the guns, &c., came out of these exacting tests in a most satisfactory manner. Importance attaches to the tests for rapidity of fire, as on this quality is based the preference for combining primary and secondary guns, instead of adopting exclusively one calibre in the main armament. In a ten round test for rapidity the 10in. guns were fired at the rate of two rounds per minute, and the 8in. guns at three rounds per minute – both splendid results. The ordnance for repelling torpedo-boat attack is as satisfactory as that in the main battery; indeed, it is exceptionally powerful, even when later ships are considered. There are 20 4.7in. quick-firing guns, which, on the rapidity test, fired eight rounds per minute. They are 50 calibres in length. Sixteen of these are placed within the armoured battery, and high above the water-line. Four are located aft, and these also are within armour. There are 12 smaller quick-firing guns, and two 18in. submerged torpedo launching tubes.

            The armour extends from stem to stern, and for a considerable width and length it is 6in. in thickness, reduced at the bow and stern to 4in. and 3in. The upper works are of 3in. armour, also specially hardened. There are three armoured bulkheads as protection against raking fire, and the magazines and machinery spaces have armoured protection – a new feature – in the form of armoured walls extending to the double bottom. The barbettes and conning towers are heavily armoured, and there are two armoured towers for the range finders.

            The machinery is of the latest four-cylinder triple expansion type, and adequate provision has been made for coal and ammunition storage. The length between perpendiculars is 490ft., and the moulded breadth 75ft. The designed displacement was 15,200 tons, on a draft of 26ft., and it is to the credit of the Vickers Company that the actual draft came out somewhat under this draft, so that, with excess of war stores, the draft of the ship will be well within the capacity of the entrance to most graving docks in Russian ports. In conclusion, it should be stated that the maneuvering qualities of the vessel, during her steering trials, received the unqualified approbation of the Russian Commission, and more than fulfilled all contract conditions.

Provided by Stephen McLaughlin