Russia marks the ‘Day of the Submariner’ on 19th March. The date was not chosen by chance – it was on this day in 1906 that the submarines in the Imperial Russian Navy were ordered by the Secretary of the Navy – under orders from Emperor Nicholas II – to be allocated as a separate class of warships.
Today, the Double-Headed Eagle Society have honoured the memory of the founder of Russia’s first submarine fleet Emperor Nicholas II by depicting his image on the Soviet submarine K-21.
Launched in 1939, the Soviet submarine K-21 was a K-class submarine of the Soviet Navy during World War II. In the spring of 1981, she was moved to the city of Polyarny, Murmansk Oblast to be converted into a museum ship. After renovations, she was eventually moved to Severomorsk, Russia. The museum was opened in 1983. In the late 1990s, the boat underwent some general repairs. From 2008 to 2009, the museum was further renovated.
During the reign of Emperor Nicholas II the Imperial Russian Navy continued to expand in the later part of the century, regaining its position as the third largest fleet in the world after Britain and France. It had a revival in the latter part of the century, but lost most of its Pacific Fleet along with the Baltic Fleet, both of which were sent to the Far East and subsequently destroyed in the disastrous Russo-Japanese of 1904. The second phase of Nicholas II’s military life was marked by his participation in the reorganization of the navy after the catastrophic Russo-Japanese War.
Today, a century after his death, post-Soviet Russia recognizes the contribution of the last Russian Emperor to the development of the country’s underwater fleet.
On 19 March 1906, by decree of Emperor Nicholas II, the Maritime General Staff was organized with the Main Naval Staff, which assumed the functions of the operational body of the Imperial Navy. At first, attention was directed to the creation of mine-laying and a submarine fleet.
Unfortunately, the name of the last emperor in this area of Russia’s military history is unjustly forgotten, thanks to Soviet dogma. From 1903 to 1917, Nicholas II ordered the construction of a total of 78 submarines – including the purchase of 11 foreign made submarines.
Click HERE to read my article The Imperial Russian Navy Under Nicholas II 1894-1917, which includes 2 videos + photographs
© Paul Gilbert. 19 March 2019