Historic Feat of the Varyag Cruiser Remembered 109 Years Later
Feb 11, 2013
A group of Russian diplomats placed a wreath in the Yellow Sea off the South Korean port of Incheon on Thursday as Russia commemorates the sad anniversary of the scuttling of the Varyag cruiser and the Koreets gunboat after an unequal battle with a Japanese squadron in 1904.
The diplomats arrived at the scene aboard a South Korean naval ship. Buglers played a solemn tune as the wreath was being placed. The wreath tribute continued on land at a monument to the Russian sailors killed in that battle.
During the Battle of Chemulpo Bay at the start of the Russo-Japanese War, the Varyag (under the command of Captain of the First Rank Vsevolod Rudnev) accepted a highly unequal battle with the Japanese squadron of Admiral Uriu (one armoured cruiser, five protected cruisers and eight destroyers) in a heroic attempt to break out from Chemulpo (Incheon) harbor February 9, 1904.
Chemulpo was in neutral Korean waters but Admiral Uriu gave the Russian ships in harbor a written ultimatum to sail by 12:00 noon or be attacked in the harbor itself. Captain Rudnev sortied, accompanied by the gunboat Koreets; having lost 31 men dead, 191 injured (out of 570) and outgunned, both ships returned to harbor by 1:00 p.m., the crew decided not to surrender, but to sink the ship. The crew was saved by transferring them to the British cruiser Talbot, the French cruiser Pascal, and the Italian cruiser Elba.
Russkiy Mir Foundation Information Service
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