Sunday, December 28, 2014

"Why were you, a general, not shot during the Revolution?”

Katya Bessmertnaya. Graphics #8. By permission.
Katya Bessmertnaya
Andrey Kapitsa, Alexey Krylov’s grandson, asked him, “Why were you, a general, not shot during the Revolution?” His answer was “There are generals, and there are generals.”

Thursday, December 25, 2014

What happened to Milford Haven after Nelson's death?

In 1921, Alexey Krylov visited the town of Milford Haven. Describing the visit, he wrote poetic dedication to Admiral Nelson.

To be fair, he deplored it not being converted to a national  monument without appreciating the fact that  Sir William Hamilton, Lady Hamilton’s husband, had owned it.  

Naval architect Sinclair, the shipyard manager, for a long time had been the Vickers representative in Petrograd. I knew him from repairing turrets on the cruiser Riurik. I unexpectedly met him while walking by the shipyard, and he kindly invited me to go in his car to the place where a highway embankment was being constructed in the absence of maritime work. This work took place directly near the gates of the historic park with a villa that belonged to Admiral Nelson, where he and Lady Hamilton spent summers during the last three years of his life. After Nelson’s death, the estate was sold three or four times. The park was in good condition, and the villa looked from outside exactly the same as in the old engravings, but it gave the impression of being uninhabited: the little pond and the pool (where according to the legend, Nelson sailed toy ships, probably not for simple amusement) were drained and overgrown with grass and weeds. The little house on the bay shore with the terrace over the water from which Nelson swam in the bay was occupied by the estate caretaker, and on Nelson’s lower terrace, a woman was rinsing laundry in the bay. It occurred to me that in 116 years since Trafalgar, prosperous England did not bother to buy and convert into a national monument the little plot of land whose every inch was connected to the memory of the greatest naval commander of all times, a man who saved England from foreign invasion and oppression and with his own blood forever imprinted its power over the sea.
 This is what I found:

  • Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire was a new town, built following an Act of Parliament of 1790 which granted to Sir William Hamilton the powers to make quays, establish markets, make docks, roads and avenues. 
  • Sir William made his nephew, Charles Greville, responsible for the enterprise, and, after Sir William's death, the estate passed to Charles, who died in 1809. 
  • He was succeeded by his brother, Robert Fulke Greville, who took little interest in the town. He died in 1824. His son, also named Robert Fulke Greville, inherited the estate, and in 1853 he came to live at Castle Hall, to which he made extensive additions.  
  • He ran out of money, and the estate became so heavily mortgaged that when he died, in 1867, it passed to the National Provident Institution, which began in earnest the work of building docks at Milford. 
  • The estate had been bought by Sir Hugh James Protheroe Thomas in 1920. Sir Hugh sold off much of the estate between 1920 and 1924, when he died following an operation for appendicitis. 
  • The Newton Noyes railway and pier were purchased by Messrs Thomas W. Ward of Sheffield for a ship-breaking yard, and in 1934 the Admiralty acquired the pier and part of the railway for the Royal Navy Mines Depot. Castle Hall was surplus to the Admiralty's requirements and demolished.

(extracts from the Pembrokeshire Record Office estate records © National Library of Wales 2013)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Battle of Tsushima and the Titanic: same shipbuilding mistake?

A reader of "Professor Krylov's Navy" posted a question on Amazon: "Krylov was involved in the Russia's biggest naval failure in Port Arthur and Tsushima battles in 1904-1905. Russia's loss was 4,380 dead, 5,917 people captured and 21 ships sunk.
It will be interesting to know what "Naval Architect" Krylov said about these events in his memoir.

A short answer is "He tried but failed to prevent it. After the Battle of Tsushima, he was assigned to restore the Russian Navy, implementing the principles for which he fought before it."

(The battleship Orel)

A longer answer calls for discussion of how Russian inertia and bureaucracy  doomed the Russian battleships at Tsushima in 1905 by neglecting the same principles, ignoring which doomed the Titanic in 1912.

Krylov's approach to protecting the ships:
  1. Compartments do not protect a ship from sinking. The ship reserve buoyancy does it. 
  2. Reserve buoyancy is the volume of the above-water part of the ship, bounded by the upper watertight deck. 
  3. Partitioning of the hold into compartments is one way to utilize reserve buoyancy.
  4. Besides buoyancy, it is necessary to provide for the ship stability. This is achieved by coordinating partitioning of the above-water parts with partitioning of the hold and by arranging appropriate system of flooding the compartments to right the ship. 
  5. The principle of partitioning should be that buoyancy is lost prior to stability—in short, that the ship sinks without capsizing.
The idea was novel and counter-intuitive: have sufficient reserve buoyancy and deal with a hole not by pumping water out of the damaged compartments (all but impossible in the iron or steel ship) but by flooding additional compartments.

Krylov advocated proper partitioning and systems for  quick flooding. He even prepared tables showing the effect of flooding the compartments on the ship list, trim, and stability.  In 1903, he hand-delivered the tables to the squadron ships in Port Arthur.  No reaction.

Then the Battle of Tsushima happened. One ship followed Krylov's recommendation:
On the Orel, knowledgeable and talented naval engineer Kostenko sailed as a hold mechanic and, on his own initiative, arranged the system of righting with resources available on the ship. Although the Orel received the same damages in the Battle of Tsushima as the ships of the same class, Aleksandr III, Borodino, and Suvorov, she remained afloat while the other three ships capsized and sank.
In 1908, Krylov was made the chairman of the the Naval Technical Committee and tasked with restoring the navy. At an enormous cost, the lesson was finally learned, at least by the Russian Navy.

In 1912, the Titanic sank. She did not have sufficient reserve buoyancy, and her sixteen compartments were too large and not watertight.  The ship was doomed.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Extraordinary Estate: Illegitimacy in XIX Century Russia

  ...The godparents were Maria Mikhailovna Krylova, the widow of the Colonel of the Guard, and the son of Natalia Alexandrovna, Alexander Ivanovich Krylov, of the village California, but his surname, however, was not Krylov but Tyubukin...
...In the process of making his first vital record, the embarrassed young priest invented an extraordinary estate for Alexander Tyubukin and made an error in his last name.

What extraordinary estate? The record says nothing about Tyubukin's estate!

This is what I found. At the time, Russia had several estates (each further subdivided into groups):
  • Nobility
  • Clergy
  • Honorary Citizens
  • Merchants
  • Commoners
  • Peasants
  • Cossack
The child belonged to the father’s estate. “Illegitimacy, in contrast, prevented one from exercising one's family rights and thus put one in an awkward position, both legally and socially” (O. E. Glagoleva, 2005)

A record of christening always indicated the estate of the parents and of the godparents. In this case, the godmother, as a widow of a colonel, belonged to nobility, but what about the godfather?   

For people of illegitimate birth, the mother's name was written instead of the estate.

When the priest wrote down the mother's name, he formally indicated (incorrectly) that the godfather was of illegitimate birth rather than a nobleman, as was the case. Aha! The estate was indicated.

Krylov later gives a fictitious reason why the family had to move to France. Krylov's grandson, Andrey Kapitsa,  explains in the introduction to the memoir, that, in fact, it was the impending birth of Krylov's half-brother.
“Now, 130 years later, a family secret can finally be revealed. … Had the baby been born in Russia, his fate as an illegitimate child would be a sad one.”

Extraordinary estate indeed.