London Times, 18 December 1857, p. 6: FRANCE. (From our own correspondent.) PARIS, Thursday, Dec. 17, 6 P.M. (Excerpt)
Accounts from Cherbourg state that the Russian naval division under the command of Commodore Kournetzoff, consisting of the screw corvettes Vayaroda, Royarin, and Navich, with the steam transports Dygde, Plastun, and Strotk, have left for the East. This squadron, which carries 48 guns and 840 men, has been at Cherbourg since the 5th of November last.
Apropos of this squadron, it may not be uninteresting to mention a few more particulars relative to the Russian navy, and especially as to the pay of the seamen. The fixed pay of a Russian sailor is extremely low. For an able seaman it is not more than 24s. a year. They are clothed by the State, and their rations while at sea belong to them. It is said that the ration of a Russian seaman was calculated by Peter the Great after a trial of a month on his own appetite, and few modern seamen are able to consume more than half of the provisions allowed them. The remainder produces him on average 1l. a month. Each Russian sailor is, moreover, allowed a measure of brandy and half a measure of wine daily. The pay of a non-commissioned officer is not greater than that of a seaman. The only advantage he has is that he receives half a ration more, which is equivalent in money to 1l. a month. They have the privilege of selecting the place for their hammocks. Previous to the late war the Russian ships of the line were incompletely manned and the smaller vessels over-crowded. The consequence was that the crew of a ship of the line kept a double watch, and half the crew of a smaller vessel slept on deck. As the Government pays for his clothing, a Russian sailor is not interested in taking care of it, and thence arises the want of cleanliness with which they are justly reproached. Each Russian ship-of-war leaves a portion of her crew on shore, who are artisans by profession. These men work for the public, and are permitted to retain half their earnings; the remainder forms a fund from which each seaman, on retiring after 20 years' service, receives about 5l in money, and which enables him to return home to his family, if any are living after so long a period. The pay of Russian naval officers is likewise very moderate, but, as they have a liberal table allowance, and receive an equivalent for the rations of the servants allowed them, but who they do not take to sea, their financial condition is not so bad. After 20 years' service a Russian naval officer may retire with an income equal to one-third of his pay, after 25 years two-thirds, and after 30 years his full pay. A captain of a Russian ship-of-war has the entire management of the ship. One of his officers, appointed by the Government, and named inspector, shares the responsibility. Should the accounts of a captain be found incorrect at the regular period for rendering them, two-thirds of the deficiency are debited to the captain, and one-third to the inspector. When a ship-of-war is in port the captain sends a return to the Admiral of the number of his crew, and the Paymaster-General supplies him with the estimated amount of money, which the captain distributes among the captains of companies, who in turn pay the sailors. When a captain quits port for a distant voyage he receives on board extra funds for contingencies, and with this money he pays for provisions and clothing for his men, and sends a duplicate of the bills receipted and checked by the Russian Consuls; another duplicate remains in his hands as his own voucher.
Provided by Stephen McLaughlin