Monument to the sunken ships

Monument to the sunken ships in Sevastopol
Monument to the sunken ships in Sevastopol

Monument to the sunken ships in Sevastopol

In Russia, the Sunken Ships Monument is recognized as a cultural heritage site of federal significance (in Ukraine – a cultural heritage of national significance). As the winner of the popular vote in 2016, the monument was stylized on a banknote of 200 rubles.

History of the monument to the sunken ships
The monument was completed in 1905 in honor of the 50th anniversary of the end of the city’s defense. The witnesses and participants in those terrible battles that lasted for 11 months were still alive and almost healthy. The echo of the past war was still in the air. The earth was also plucking out deadly fragments of the past – cannons, cannonballs, bayonets, barrels, blades … The monument was intended to serve as evidence of the unyielding tenacity of not only people, but also ships.

1854 year. The allied squadron approached the shores of the Crimea. An allied army was landed, which included the British, French, Turks, Italians and “various other Swedes.” The battle on the Alme River is lost. The threat of seizing the city from land and sea looming unequivocally. It was necessary to decide something. But what? Fight at sea? But the newcomers have a new and numerous fleet, many steamers. We mostly have old wooden sailboats. Admiral Kornilov insisted that it was better to go to sea and die in battle, inflicting all possible damage on the enemy squadron. But the military council decided otherwise. Admirals Nakhimov, Istomin and others argued that the sinking of ships in the channel of the bay, an obstacle to the landing, the strengthening of the coastal garrison with commands and guns from ships is the surest solution to a difficult dilemma. “If the enemy ships establish themselves in the roadstead, then besides the fact that we will lose the city of Sevastopol and the fleet, we will lose all hope in the future, – said Nakhimov. – Having Sevastopol, we will have a fleet … and without Sevastopol it is impossible to have a fleet on the Black Sea “.

There were two flooding lines: the first, the earliest, at the entrance to the bay, and the second, late, a little further, between the Konstantinovskaya and Mikhailovskaya batteries. Under the tears of the crews landed on the shore, the ship’s carpenters chopped the bottoms of the first seven ships with axes, blew them up so that the ships went to the bottom – to the line of their last defense. Some drowned at once. Some stubbornly kept afloat for almost a day, as if not believing that they were destined to die at the hands of their own, near their own coast, not in battle with the enemy. And many years later there were discussions about whether the admirals acted right, and whether there was no other way – to go to sea, to give battle … And again and again, reluctantly, but naturally, the disputants came to the same answer: right. If they had done otherwise, not only the squadron would have been lost, but also the city, which had lost additional soldiers, guns and would have been available for enemy shelling from the sea and landing. “Having Sevastopol, we will have a fleet …”

Unable to enter the bay, the allied fleet huddled in the outer roadstead and began shelling. But the Konstantinovskaya battery and even the Mikhailovskaya and Nikolaevskaya batteries, located in the depths of the bay, responded with dignity. A lot of damage inflicted on enemy ships, several thrown on the coastal banks in order not to sink, about 400 dead and wounded sailors discouraged the attackers from all the desire to make new attempts. If only it was possible to enter the bay! .. Angry, the Allies called from England a team of divers with specially designed charges that could explode remotely under water. But a storm broke out, and the ship, along with the failed saboteurs, died somewhere near Balaklava. And the submarine fleet in the bay continued to fight.

The storms destroyed the Russian ships laid down for eternal mooring, and some time later two more were to be flooded, and then another six. Thus, the second flooding line appeared.

Before leaving the city, the remnants of the Russian Black Sea squadron were flooded, finally turning the fairway of the bay into an insurmountable obstacle for any ship.

When the war ended, 20 ships were raised from the bottom and returned to service. But they were not new at the time of the flooding, and now they did not serve for a long time, having gone this time to a well-deserved rest in the usual way. And 50 years later, a monument was erected on the site of the second flood line, 23 meters from the coast.

There were several projects for the monument to the lost ships. They were proposed to be installed in various places of the city, but the commission recognized the idea of the head of the service of the Sevastopol Fortress, engineer-lieutenant-colonel Friedrich-Oskar Enberg, who proposed to erect the monument right in the sea. By the way, it was he who designed the Panorama building.