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THE CRUISER AURORA AND THE ICEBREAKER "KRASIN" IN SAINT PETERSBURG

Travel back in time by stepping on board the memorial ship Aurora, which played an important role in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The cruiser Aurora was built between 1897 and 1900 by the "New Admiralty" in St. Petersburg and joined Russia's Baltic fleet in 1903. The ship measures 126.8 meters (418 feet 5 inches) in length, 16.8 meters (55 feet 5 inches) in width and weighs a staggering 7,600 tons. Maintaining a speed of 20 knots (23.3 miles per hour) it can travel independently for up to 1,440 sea miles.

 

During the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 the cruiser took part in the Battle of Tsusima. Amongst the ship's exhibits visitors can see a portrait of the ship's captain, who was killed during the battle. The crew used part of the Aurora's penetrated armor to frame Captain Yegoryev's photograph.

 

In 1917, as the main training ship of the Baltic fleet, the Aurora took an active part in the Revolution. On the night of October 25-26 1917, it fired a blank shot at the Winter Palace (then the residence of the Provisional Government), giving the signal to the rebellious workers, soldiers and sailors of the city to storm the palace. That moment triggered a dramatic episode in Russia's history and was the start of over 70 years of Communist leadership.

 

The Aurora is now maintained by cadets from the nearby Nakhimov Navy School. Admission to the Aurora is free, but for an extra fee you can tour the engine-room (ask an attendant).

This historic ship, moored off the southern bank of Vasilyevsky Island, is one of the more recent additions to St. Petersburg's museum scene. Despite its age, the "Krasin" is still in good working order and eminently seaworthy, but after undergoing extensive restoration work it has now become a floating museum.

 

Designed by the famous Russian seaman, Admiral Stepan O. Makarov and built in 1916 in Britain, the ship was originally named after the Russian mythological warrior - "Svyatogor". Renamed "Krasin" during the Soviet era, the powerful icebreaker took part in the rescue operation to save the Italian polar expedition led by Umberto Nobile. During World War II the "Krasin" led Allied convoys, which brought strategic supplies, arms and ammunition to the Soviet Union. The convoys fought their way to the northern Soviet seaports, despite heavy Nazi bombardment and the constant threat of submarine attacks. Many Allied ships and cargo vessels failed to reach their destination, but the "Krasin" was lucky enough to survive. After the war the historic icebreaker took an active part in research expeditions in the Polar Ocean and led Soviet cargo convoys through the polar region. Rather than being destroyed (like the famous icebreaker "Yermak") to make way for more modern ships, the "Krasin" was preserved and restored, thanks to the tremendous dedication of its captain and crew and of volunteers and naval history enthusiasts.

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