London Times, 14 July 1905, p. 5: THE TSAR AND THE NAVY. ST. PETERSBURG, JULY 13.*

The following is the substance of an Imperial Rescript addressed to Admiral Birileff on his appointment as Minister of Marine: –

The Tsar points out that the navy’s successive disasters have deprived it of the power of lightening the task and guaranteeing the success of the army. His Majesty sorrowfully deplores the loss of the faithful sailors who sacrificed their lives for the Fatherland, and points out that it is the duty of all sailors towards their country ardently to undertake the reconstitution of the naval forces which are indispensable to Russia, and the education and training of the necessary naval personnel, so that the latter may be imbued with the consciousness of what naval service requires. His Majesty acknowledges that Admiral Birileff, during the hasty fitting out of the second and third Pacific squadrons, displayed remarkable energy, experience, and military sentiment, and inspired his subordinates with a vigorous spirit and with the consciousness of the national importance of their work. These are services which enable the Tsar to count surely on Admiral Birileff for the renovation of the navy. In appointing him Minister, he entrusts to him the high direction of the Navy Department and the duty of personally presenting reports related to it to his Majesty.

The recent shocking events in the Black Sea, it is added, prove the total laxity of military discipline among the crews, and the indifference to their duties of their immediate chiefs. Such exceptional criminal acts call for serious investigations and rigorous punishments. Consequently the Tsar entrusts to Admiral Birileff as his first duty, to strengthen the military spirit of discipline, and to bring about a resumption of the regular performance of their duties by the naval personnel by re-establishing the former system whereby an inquiry was an essential preliminary to the promotion of officers, to consolidate the central administrative organs of the Ministry of Marine, to extend the independence and responsibility of the commanders-in-chief of the fleets and ports of the Black and Baltic Seas, and to devote his special attention to important educative effect of service abroad for the officers and men of the Imperial Naval Guard (quartered in St. Petersburg), and to strengthen their love of the naval service.

The Emperor recommends Admiral Birileff to guarantee to the navy a personnel sure and technically well prepared, and well disciplined by schooling, to place naval construction under conditions in conformity with the requirements of the present day, and to raise the level of the technical instruction of the corps of naval engineers.


The Imperial Rescript to Admiral Birileff outlining a new naval policy had been expected for some days. It affords no surprise to those acquainted with the effect of the Potemkin mutiny upon the Imperial mind. The Tsar was far more impressed by the mutiny than by the disaster at Tsu Shima.

As to the future programme of naval construction, the Ministry of Marine must at once commence to take measures to assure the maritime defense of the Russian coast and all Russian waters, and then gradually reconstitute the fighting squadrons according to the resources available.

Admiral Birileff, who becomes the virtual master of the Russian navy, is the most unpopular of the admirals, a circumstance which perhaps prompted the Emperor to select him for a thorough cleansing of the whole service.

Provided by Stephen McLaughlin