Imperatritsa Mariya-class Battleship, Imperatritsa Yekaterina Velikaya - The Greater Empress

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Imperatritsa Mariya-class Battleship, Imperatritsa Yekaterina Velikaya


Bluewater vessel, fatter Imperatritsa Mariya, otherwise mostly identical.

The 3rd Imperatritsa Mariya-class battleship, Imperatritsa Yekaterina Velikaya was built at the Society of NIkolayev Works and Yards (ONZiV) rather than the Russud shipyard. ONZiV employed consultants from Vickers, who knew how many Russian battleships had been built overweight and recommended ONZiV to increase the size of the design, 4ft 10in longer and 2ft wider than its sisters. This enlargement allowed it to avoid most of the trimming problems discovered on Imperatritsa Mariya and retain its 2 forward casemates, which had been removed on its sister Volya to remedy the issue. This also made it the most expensive of the 3 ships, by about 2 million rubles more than the others.

Imperatritsa Yekaterina Velikaya was built remarkably fast, less than 3 years and only a few months after the lead ship, and was commissioned in October 1915. During the war it engaged the German ships Goeben and Breslau multiple times, outgunning both but unable to catch either. After Imperatritsa Mariya’s loss, it replaced it as the Black Sea Fleet flagship, though soon the Russian Revolution would end further operations. After the Russian Revolution, it was renamed Svobodnaya Rossiya (Free Russia). In 1918 as German forces advanced to Sevastopol, it and other elements of the Black Sea Fleet escaped to Novorossiysk, where its crew voted to scuttle the ship. It was hit by torpedoes from Kerch and sunk. During the Soviet era, its turrets and ammunition were salvaged, though after raising a few of the turrets, an attempt to use demolition charges to open up the hull resulted in one of the magazines detonating, ending further salvage efforts. The guns salvaged would be installed in Coastal Batteries No.30 and 35, which played a major role in the Battle for Crimea in WW2.

Specifications: (1916)

4x3 12-inch (305mm) Pattern 1907 (100 rpg)
20x1 130mm Pattern 1913 (245 rpg)
3x1 75mm Canet Pattern 1892
4x1 450mm TT

Armour (Krupp cemented steel): (same as Imperatritsa Mariya, though some of the hull plates/internals a bit longer due to greater dimensions)

262.5mm main belt
125mm fore belt
125mm aft belt
75-100mm upper belt
37.5mm main deck
25mm fore deck
25mm middle and lower decks
250mm turret face and sides
305mm turret rear
125mm turret roof
250mm turret upper barbettes
150 fore and aft turret lower barbettes
125 centre turret lower barbettes
100mm casemates
25mm screens between casemates
300mm conning towers
200mm fore conning tower roof
100mm aft conning tower roof

22 900 tons standard
24 644 tons full

Length: 169.5m

Beam: 28.1m

Draft: 8.24m

Propulsion: 4 ONZiV-Vickers steam turbines with 20 Yarrow boilers, 33 000 hp, driving 4 shafts

Speed: 21 knots (38.9 km/h)

Range: 1400 nmi (at 12 knots)

Crew: 1190

2x1 5m Zeiss rangefinders


Svobodnaya Rossiya’s aft gun, note the 2 AA guns.

McLaughlin, S., Apalʹkov, Yu. V., & Burns, T. A. (2021). The Imperatritsa Mariia Class. In Russian & Soviet battleships (pp. 228-242). Naval Institute Press.