London Times, 4 July 1864, p. 11: THE RUSSIAN NAVY.

Some time ago it was reported in The Times that Messrs. Charles Mitchell and Co., iron shipbuilders of Newcastle, had been commissioned by the Russian Government to adapt one of the existing dockyards in St. Petersburg to the purpose of building iron armour-plated vessels of all classes, as had already been done by our own Government at Chatham. All the heavy machines required for the various operations of iron shipbuilding were manufactured in different parts of England, and were afterwards erected under Messrs. Mitchell's supervision in Russia. On the completion of these erections, this English firm entered into a contract with the Russian Government to construct some of these ironclads in the St. Petersburg dockyard, and intelligence has just reached the Tyne that the first two ships have been safely launched. The following are particulars of their construction. The Ne tron Menya (Touch me Not), the larger of the two ironclads just launched, is 230ft. long, 53ft. broad, and 27ft. deep. She is covered from stem to stern with armour 5½in. (or ¼????) thick at the water-line, and 4½in. (or ¼????) on the remaining surface of the sides, on a backing of teak 12in. in thickness. The armament will consist of 20 200-pounder rifled steel guns. The machinery is of 450 horsepower, and in addition there is an auxiliary engine for working large pumps and driving a fan blast to ventilate all parts of the vessel. The draught of water of the Ne tron Menya, when fully equipped for service, and with her coals on board, will be 15ft. The launching draught was 9ft. 9in., the entire armour being on the sides, with the exception of 25 plates at the bow, and the same number at the stern, which it was thought desirable to fix after the vessel should be afloat. A rifle turret similar to the one built on the Warrior is placed on the upper deck, is covered with 4½in. armour, and is provided with electrical apparatus to convey the captain's instructions to the gun deck, the engine-room, and the steersman. As the Ne tron Menya is destined chiefly for coast defence and for service in the Baltic, she will be only lightly rigged. The second ironclad, built by Messrs. C. Mitchell and Co., and launched together with the Ne tron Menya, is a double-turret vessel named the Smertch (Waterspout), and is about the same size and tonnage as, but in all other respects a great improvement on, the Danish iron turret ship Rolf Krake. The chief dimensions are as follows: -- Length 190ft., breadth 38ft., and depth 14ft. The draught of water when in fighting trim will be 10ft. 6in., the armour is 4½in. thick, and extends the entire length of the side, and to a depth of 4ft. below the line of flotation. The armament is carried in two revolving turrets constructed on Captain C.P. Coles' system. These turrets have an internal diameter if 18ft., and are each capable of carrying two large guns; but being the first turrets made on Coles' system in Russia, it is wished that every facility should be given to insure a successful result, and in this instance but one 300-pounder gun will be placed in each turret. The armour on the turrets varies from 6 to 4½in. in thickness. The top of the turrets and the surfaces of the upper deck are covered with plating one inch thick. The hull is constructed with double bottom and sides, for the purpose of affording safety in the event of the outer shell of the vessel being pierced by a shot, or being run into by an enemy. The space between the outer and inner bottoms is also divided into transverse bulkheads into numerous watertight compartments, each furnished with pipes for pumping out in case of leakage, or filling with water to increase the immersion of the vessel, and thereby diminish the surface above water exposed to the enemy's fire. The machinery for the Smertch has been manufactured by Messrs. Maudslay, Sons, and Field, of London, and is of 200-horse power nominal, divided into two distinct pairs of engines, 100-horse power each, for the purpose of driving twin or double screws. The object of such arrangement is to usefully absorb the entire power of the engines, which could not be done so well with one screw on so limited a draught of water, also to give the vessel increased power of manoeuvring while in action. For a like purpose a balanced rudder has been fitted in the bow of the vessel. The Smertch will be rigged as a three-masted schooner, the fore and main masts being of iron, and constructed on Captain Coles' tripod system. The launching of the vessel was conducted with great ceremony, and was eminently successful. In the absence of the Emperor, Admiral Krabbe, Minister of Marine, represented the Russian Government, and was assisted by Prince Menzikoff, General Suwaroff, the Military Governor of St. Petersburg and other great officers of state. The event being one of unusual interest in St. Petersburg, both sides of the Neva, and every point from which a view of the launches could be obtained, were crowded by an immense concourse of spectators.

Provided by Stephen McLaughlin