A little megapost to wrap the Thiariaverse Balkan adventure.
6. The Great War
With Greece initially neutral and the Aegean controlled by the French Navy, against which the Turks had no chance whatsoever, the main enemy of the Ottoman fleet in the first three years of the war was the Russian Black Sea fleet. The Royal Hellenic Navy enthusiastically supported the siege of Gallipoli, but got no opportunity to engage the Ottoman fleet in battle prior to January 1918.
The Russian black sea fleet was a poorly balanced affair with a lot of old battleships, but no modern cruisers and a largely obsolete destroyer force. Morale had somewhat recovered since the mutiny of 1905, and many technical and tactical innovations had been implemented, like an early form of blind-firing technique with one ship providing bearing and range data for the rest of the fleet; training and leadership deficiencies however remained, and the failure of the aforementioned fire-control innovations resulted in a catastrophic defeat early in the war. As the war progressed, modern dreadnoughts, cruisers, destroyers and submarines were added to the Russian Black Sea Fleet, and by 1917, it was again superior to the Ottoman navy in every respect - only to virtually self-destruct in the Revolution and subsequent civil war. The pre-dreadnoughts were the same as in OTL and don't need to be reproduced here. They were followed by five completed dreadnoughts, of which three survived the war to serve in three different navies.
6.1.1. Yuri Dolgorukiy-class Battleship
Yuri Dolgorukiy, the first dreadnought of the Black Sea Fleet, was laid down in 1908 to a design which could be considered state of the art at that time: Her ten 305mm guns (45-calibre pieces produced under license from Vickers) were arranged in two superfiring turrets forward, two diagonally staggered turrets amidships and one on the centerline aft (an inverse Neptune/Kaiser arrangement), giving her a ten gun broadside and a forward punch of six barrels unless firing directly ahead (like most ships of this layout, the flank turrets were required to bear dead forward and aft, but caused intolerable damage to the superstructure if aimed closer than ten degrees to the ship's axis). Twelve 120mm guns in casemates made up the secondary armament. Originally, only a mainmast was installed, but a foremast was fitted during the lengthy trials and refit period before she was commissioned. Armour was very extensive, covering virtually the whole hull, but quite thin at 225mm and of dubious quality; during the war, German-supplied 305mm shells of the Ottoman Navy proved capable of puncturing Yuri Dolgorukiy's side armour from 10.000 meters out. With her rather limited size of 19.500 tons and her flush decked hull of low freeboard, Yuri Dolgorukiy also was a bad seaboat, and bow-heavy into the bargain; to top off the package, she was poorly ventilated and uncomfortable. Construction was plagued by technical and financial difficulties, and she took just over six years till she was accepted into service. She served as flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, but did not survive her very first engagement against the Ottoman fleet at the battle of Yasun.
6.1.2. Imperatritsa Mariya-class Battleships
The follow-up dreadnought class comprised the Imperatritsa Mariya and the Imperatritsa Ekaterina Velikaya. They were as dissimilar from the Yuri Dolgorukiy as humanly conceivable. Consequently they were rated as superb warships with outstanding capabilities, just as their OTL pendants. A third ship was proposed, but postponed and completed to a very different design. Imperatritsa Mariya blew up in port in 1916, but Imperatritsa Ekaterina Velikaya was renamed Svobodnaya Rossiya by the Soviets in 1917. She was scuttled in 1918 to prevent the Germans from grabbing her (they had promised her to the provisional government of independent Ukraine), but salvaged in 1923 and repaired till 1928. She was renamed Sovetskaya Rossiya in 1927 and served in World War II, but was sunk early in 1943 by a German airstrike while providing fire support for Soviet ground forces off Kuban.
6.1.3. Imperator Aleksandr III-class Battleships
Laid down in 1913 as a response to the Ottoman orders for two battleships and a battlecruiser in 1912 in Great Britain, the big dreadnoughts Imperator Aleksandr III and Imperator Nikolay I combined the high speed of the Baltic Fleet's Gangut-class (at 24 knots, they were even faster) and the improved (if still not quite outstanding) protection of the Imperatritsa Mariya on a hull nearly the size of a Queen Elizabeth; together with the Thiarian Conaire-class, these units were the most capable battleships with 305mm guns worldwide. Although it was obvious at that time that the army had to be prioritized, construction proceeded after the disastrous battle of Yasun in October 1914. They again were close to cancellation late in 1916, but the accidental loss of the Imperatritsa Mariya saved them. Imperator Aleksandr III achieved FOC three months before the revolution; Nikolay I was just undergoing acceptance trials. Neither made an operational sortie under Russian colours.
Aleksandr went to Bizerta in 1920, never to return. The White Russians needed money to continue the fight against the reds; with the big sea-powers mostly in their camp, they did not need a naval arm of their own. Consequently, the decision was made in 1921 to sell the whole 'Wrangel-fleet' in order to obtain direly needed hard currency. The Peruvian government, which had possessed South America's first ironclad thirty years ago, but had recently been completely outpaced by its neighbours in the South American Naval Arms Race, grabbed the opportunity to acquire a whole fleet at a bargain price, and purchased no less than twelve warships, premier among them the Alexandr III. She was commissioned as the Republica and had a long, peaceful career in Peruvian service until scrapped in 1958. She was never significantly upgraded; operating her always taxed Peru's financial abilities to the breaking point.
Imperator Nikolay I was scuttled incomplete in 1918, but proved easily salvageable. She was raised by the Germans in mid-1918 and became one of the Russian warships transferred to the Ottoman Empire under conditions of the treaty of Brest-Litovsk. She had hardly arrived in Constantinople when the Ottoman Empire collapsed and was slated to be ceded to Great Britain under the treaty of Sevres. Like the other Ottoman ships - the treaty of Sevres was exceptionally harsh in naval matters and stipulated cessation of every Ottoman warship above 200 tons - she was never delivered to the victors, but remained in Turkey as the country first slid into civil war and then waged an eventually successful war against Greece. The new peace treaty of 1923 let the Turks keep virtually all their remaining warships, and the incomplete and damaged Nikolay I got a chance for a second life. She remained laid up till 1925 when Atatürk's government decided to complete her, which was accomplished in 1930 under the new name Fetih to the original Russian design, with only minor alterations: they received French fire control systems, a tripod mast forward, eight French 75mm guns, eight French 37mm guns and sixteen 13,2mm machineguns; the torpedo tubes were removed. TCG Fetih served as flagship of the Turkish fleet for nearly 50 years; when the Soviets returned the ex-Thiarian battlecruiser Caithreim to the Thiarians in the early 1970s, Fetih was the last operational capital ship in Europe, and still only little changed since 1918. She was decommissioned in 1978 and sold for scrap in 1985.
6.1.4. Ivan Grozniy-class Battleships
The Aleksandr III and Nikolay I were splendid ships, but it could be rightly argued that they were underarmed for her size. The follow-on design needed only a modest increase in size to accomodate a main armament of twelve 356mm guns, with the same protection as Aleksandr III and 23 knots speed to form a homogenous squadron with their immediate predecessors. Two ships were laid down in 1914/5, as soon as the aforementioned were launched, and named Ivan Grozniy and Petr Velikiy. They would have become magnificently powerful vessels, larger and stronger than the Ottoman Fetih Sultan Mehmet class, but they were hardly begun when the Great war broke out, and their construction could no longer be justified against other priorities. They were cancelled early in 1915 and broken up. Some of their guns had already been delivered and were used to build two 10.000-ton double-turreted monitors for the Baltic fleet in the 1920s. Of their four virtual sisters Lesnoye, Berezina, Chesma and Narva, which were begun for the Baltic fleet in 1913/4, the first one was actually completed in 1927 under the name Strana Sovetov; she was deployed to the Black Sea in 1931 and served in the Second World War, where she was repeatedly hit by German air strikes, but survived and provided valuable fire support for Soviet land forces. Her accumulated damage was however beyond economic repair, and she was laid up in 1945 and scrapped in 1951.
6.1.5. Yaroslav Mudriy-class Cruisers
The large cruisers Pamyat Merkuriya and Kagul were the same as in OTL; unlike OTL however, they did not remain alone. The follow-on project consisted of the smaller Yaroslav Mudry and Velikiy Knyaz Vladimir. They were the first scout cruisers of the Black sea fleet. They displaced 3.500 tons and were armed with six 120mm guns, eight 75mm guns, four 47mm guns and two 450mm deck torpedo tubes. No armour was provided, but for the first time in a Russian warship, turbine engines were specified for a top speed of 25 knots. Two units were laid down in 1908, but construction took nearly twice as long as expected due to various technical and financial difficulties. Both were operational in 1914, however, and took part in every major operation against the Ottomans. Although they looked old-fashioned, they were effective and reliable.
Being somewhat underarmed for their size, they swapped their armament against six new 130mm guns, four 63mm HA guns and six 450mm torpedo tubes in two triple sets during 1914/5.
Both went to Bizerta with Wrangel's fleet and were sold to the Peruvians, who renamed them Atahualpa and Manco Capac.
They had an exceptionally long service life; both decommissioned in 1959 and were scrapped in 1966 and 1970, respectively.
6.1.6. Admiral Nakhimov-class Cruisers
The large, fast and powerful light cruisers Admiral Nakhimov, Admiral Lazarev, Admiral Kornilov and Admiral Istomin were the same as in OTL.
Laid down in 1913 and 1914, only Nakhimov was completed before the Revolution. She was in a damaged state in 1918 and remained in Russian hands; she was later renamed Krazniy Krim and served under Soviet colours. The uncomplete Lazarev was scuttled, salvaged and completed to a much altered design as the heavy cruiser Krazniy Kavkaz. Also uncomplete was the recently launched hull of Admiral Kornilov; Istomin was still on stocks and was broken up in the 1920s. Kornilov's hull had her turbines already installed, but only the aftermost boilers; she was towed to Constantinople in 1918 and presented to the Ottomans. She was rebuilt at Izmir to French plans during the 1920s and commissioned in 1929. A new bridge installation with a tripod mast and a massive CT was installed. Her turbines were uprated to 60.000 hp for 30 kts top speed. She received six new oil-fired Indret boilers in the middle and aft boiler rooms; the forward boiler room was converted to magazine and bunker space. Her hull was totally gutted fore and aft, and a completely new armament was installed. She was armed with eight 155mm guns, four 75mm HA guns, four 37mm guns and six 550mm torpedo tubes; aviation facilities were planned, but never installed for budgetary reasons, as the refit had already cost as much as a newly built light cruiser would have had.
TCG Gelibolu served with the Turkish navy till 1958.
The Black Sea Fleet's destroyer force was a collection of antiquities; in 1914, only four of 20 units had turbine propulsion. All older VTE-powered destroyers were the same as OTL. The four newest units - named Leytenant Ilin, Leytenant Lombard, Leytenant Doubasov and Leytenant Burakov - were completed between 1911 and 1912 to a basically obsolete design. They were essentially an elongated version of the Shestakov-class with turbines for a design speed of 28 knots; as they retained the poorly shaped hull of the Shestakovs, the fastest of them only made just over 27 knots. Their armament was much improved; the 120mm gun was placed forward, and three 75mm pieces aft. Three 450mm TTs were provided.
Burakov was an early war loss, sunk by Ottoman gunfire from the cruiser Preveze in April 1915; the other three were re-armed with three 100mm guns in 1915/16, the number of 450mm TTs being reduced to two.
Ilin and Doubasov were transferred to the Ottomans in 1918, but not commissioned and later scrapped. Lombard was reactivated by the Reds under the name Konovalov and served throughout the second world war in an auxiliary role.
Wartime additions to the Russian destroyer force belonged to four groups of roughly similar vessels; all were large and powerful and more than individual matches for anything in the Ottoman inventory. Of 24 approved units, 16 were completed before the revolution; four more were completed by the Soviets in the 1920s.
184.108.40.206 Novik-class Destroyers: Shchastliviy Group
This class of six units was identical to its OTL pendant (only five in OTL). They were named Shchastliviy, Bystriy, Gromkiy, Pylkiy, Pospeshniy and Vikhrovoy. They were built to the same specifications as the Derzkiy-class; differences between both classes were purely cosmetic.
Gromkiy and Pylkiy were war losses (Gromkiy was mined in 1916, Pylkij torpedoed by an Ottoman destroyer in April 1915). Bystriy was taken over by the reds as Frunze and served in the Second World War until lost in 1941. The other three joined the Wrangel Fleet, but Schastliviy was mined while in transit to Bizerte. Pospechniy and Vikhrovoy were purchased by Peru and renamed Almirante Guise and Almirante Villar; they served until 1953 and were scrapped in 1958.
220.127.116.11. Novik-class Destroyers: Derzkiy Group
These six vessels - named Bezpokoyniy, Gnevniy, Derzkiy, Pronzitelniy, Udaloy and Opytniy - were the same type as their OTL pendant class of four.
Gnevniy and Opytniy were war losses, both sunk by Ottoman surface forces in the battle of Cape Pazarbasi in 1916, the other four went to Bizerta and were purchased by the Peruvians. They were renamed Vicealmirante Carvajal, Contralmirante Garcia y Garcia, Contralmirante Mariategui and Presidente Montero. They served till 1936 through 1939, when they were replaced by new Thiarian-built destroyers.
18.104.22.168. Novik-class Destroyers: Kerch Group
Twelve ships named Fidonisi, Kerch, Gadzhibey, Kaliakriya, Tserigo, Zante, Levkos, Korfu, Tenedos, Khios, Rodos and Samos (same design as their OTL pendants) were built to an enlarged Derzkiy-design with four triple instead five twin torpedo tubes.
Only four were completed before the revolution. Of these, Kerch and Fidonisi were captured by the Germans in 1918 and transfered to the Ottoman Navy shortly before the war was over; the Ottomans commissioned them as Yücetepe and Kocatepe. They were the only WWI-era Turkish destroyers that continued to serve throughout the Second World War; the others were replaced in the 1920s and 1930s by a variety of vessels of Italian, British, German and domestic origin. In the late 1920s, they were thoroughly modernized at Istanbul with French assistance. They received an all-new bridge installation with a state-of-the-art fire control system, shields for their 100mm guns, raised funnels (particularly the forward one), new W/T gear, depth charges and eight 13mm AAMGs. The number of torpedo tubes was reduced to 9. In this guise, they were used till 1949 and scrapped in the 1950s.
Gadzhibey went to Bizerta with the Wrangel fleet and Kaliakriya was taken over by the Soviets and renamed Dzerzhinskiy; she was sunk by the Germans in 1942. Tserigo was nearly complete and proceeded to Bizerta under her own power; she and Gadzhibey were purchased by Peru and renamed Vicealmirante Villavicencio and Capitan Diez Canseco. They remained in service till 1951 and 1955 and were scrapped in 1959.
Zante, Korfu and Lefkas were completed by the Soviets as Nezamozhnik, Petrovskiy and Zhahumiyan in the 1920s; the first two were scrapped in the 1950s and the last was sunk by the Germans in 1942. Tenedos, Rodos, Khios and Samos were scrapped on stocks in the 1920s.
The Russian black sea fleet submarine arm was the same as in OTL. Only the Morzh- and Narval-class boats were really active during the war; none of them achieved very much, mostly due to the scarcity of targets and - in case of the Morzh-class also due to their numerous technical faults that made them virtually inoperable. The six Bars-class units were virtual copies of the troublesome Morzh-class, but came too late to make an impact. All these boats were part of prewar building programmes. For some reason, no additional submarines were laid down at the Black Sea coast in 1915, but four Holland-boats (AG-class) license built at St.Petersburg were earmarked for the Black Sea; none was ever transferred. A large 1916 programme never progressed beyond initial preparations; no keel was laid. Mostly due to poor training and constant technical troubles, the Russian submarine force failed to score against Ottoman warships, but sank a total of 78 merchants, 61 of them wooden sailing ships. Morzh, Nerpa and Tyulen were the same as in OTL.
Narval, Kit, and Kashalot were the same as in OTL.
Kashalot was a war loss, striking a mine while trying to sneak into the Bosphorus in mid-1917; the other two were captured by the Germans in 1918 and transferred to the Ottomans. They were renamed Seydi Ali Reis and Meyzinoglu Ali Pasa and had a successful career with their new owners until scrapped in 1938.
Burevestnik, Gagara, Lebed, Orlan, Pelikan and Utka were the same as in OTL. Gagara and Orlan were scuttled in 1918.
Burevestnik and Utka went to Bizerta and were purchased by Peru; they were renamed Teniente Velarde and Capitan Santillana. They were in poor shape and had to be extensively refitted for Pacific service, receiving an enlargened CT, a new bow and new diesels. Despite this, they retained numerous technical faults and were thoroughly unsatisfactory. They only served till the late 1920s, when they were replaced with US-built vessels and scrapped.
Orlan and Pelikan were incomplete when the revolution started; they were broken up in the 1920s.
The RHN had not much time to replenish its ranks after the Balkan Wars before the First World War put a stop to further acquisitions. Greece remained neutral at first, but after Italy joined the Allies, the general momentum drew Greece into the war as well. The RHN played an active part both in the First World war and the subsequent war against revolutionary Turkey; although the RHN's naval supremacy was not seriously contested by the Turks, that war was lost on land.
6.2.1. Navarinon-class battleships
Navarinon and Mykale were modernized after the Balkan war. They received new foremasts and mainmasts, up-to-date fire control equipment and a built-up bridge structure. Their 76mm guns were regrouped; all smaller guns were landed.
Navarinon was lost off Gallipoli in 1915. Mykale was further modified in 1917. Her mainmast was cut down, and her 76mm guns were regrouped again; only four remained in LA mounts, the rest was made AA capable. She landed her 178mm guns after experience had shown that their shell splashes could not be distinguished from those of her 203mm guns, screwing up fire control.
6.2.2. Limnos-class battleship
Ordered before the first Balkan war, this strange vessel was delivered from the Vulcan yard of Hamburg to the Greek navy in April 1914. Armed with six US-built 356mm/45 guns, she outgunned every available Ottoman dreadnought despite being much smaller. She was rated as a battleship by the RHN, although she had only 180mm vertical armour and thin decks; with her speed of 21 knots, she was too slow for a battlecruiser, although Greece's regularly called her one. She assumed the role as flagship of the RHN and participated in the Gallipoli campaign; she frequently teamed up with the French battlecruisers Agosta and Beveziers. At their side, she also took part in the decisive battle of Imbros in 1918, which broke the offensive spirit of the Ottoman fleet; it was Limnos' gunnery that drove the Ottoman battlecruiser Yavuz ashore. She also served in the Second World War, but was torpedoed and sunk by Italian land-based Z.1007 bombers during operations around Malta in 1942.
6.2.3. Salamis-class battleship
Also built by the Vulcan yard at Hamburg, Salamis was the same as in OTL. Her fate was however infinitely more interesting. She was completed with Skoda 350mm twins instead the originally planned US 356mm guns. These pieces were of an exceptionally powerful model, firing a 700kg shell with better overall ballistics than the British 343mm/45 or the US 356/45. As construction of Salamis progressed, the Germans suppressed the aft tripod, whose fighting top was useless anyway because of smoke interference, and fitted the forward tripod with an experimental two-storey fighting top which was the prototype for the installation later retrofitted to the Königs (although on tube masts). She was commissioned in September 1917 and served as SMS Brandenburg with the High Seas Fleet. After the Armistice, SMS Brandenburg remained in Germany. As about a third of her price had already been paid by the Greeks before the Germans requisitioned her in 1914, they claimed her for themselves, and as Greece had joined the Allied war effort early on and suffered considerable losses, the Brits grudgingly allowed her delivery in 1919. For the RHN, which was in the middle of a war against Turkey and urgently needed an additional asset, she was a godsend. She was transferred early in 1920 and remained in service with the RHN throughout the Greco-Turkish war of 1920/1 and the second world war. Despite her rather weak protection, she repeatedly survived severe punishment (an aerial torpedo in 1941, six 381mm shells from the Italian battleship Francesco Morosini in 1942 and a German 500kg bomb early in 1943) and, after reconstruction, provided valuable ground bombardment service in 1943 and 1944 off Italy and Southern France. After the war, she had become structurally deficient, but was retained as a national monument in Faliro, where she remains to this day.
6.2.4. Bouboulina-class cruisers
The two scout cruisers served as the backbone of the RHN's light forces throughout the Great war and the following war against revolutionary Turkey. They were modified with gunshields for their entire battery and a single 76mm HA gun. Otherwise, they remained pretty much unchanged. Manto was damaged three times during the war (mined off Gallipoli in 1915, shot up by cruiser and destroyer gunfire at Imbros in 1918 and again mined off Smyrna in 1922). She was found to be beyond economic repair and scrapped in 1925. Bouboulina became a TS in 1933 and survived another world war; she was finally scrapped in 1949.
6.2.5. Miaoulis-class cruisers
Greece's fledgling shipbuilding industry had started to build gunboats, transports, auxiliaries and minelayers in the 1890s, and by 1910 was capable of performing all necessary repair and maintenance jobs on all RHN vessels domestically without foreign assistance. Domestic construction of torpedo boats to British designs had started in 1908, and when the Ottomans eclipsed the Hellenic cruiser fleet by taking delivery of two German-built Kolberg-class ships in 1912, time had come for the next step: domestic construction of full-fledged light cruisers. An Italian design prepared by the Ansaldo yard was purchased and handed to the Hellenic shipyard at Skaramanga and the Neorion shipyard on the Island of Syros. Both were laid down in 1913. The cruiser was a conventional design of 4.500 tons with six 152mm guns and ten 76mm pieces, plus two submerged 457mm torpedo tubes. Curtis turbines were imported from the USA; a two-shaft installation gave a top speed of 25 knots. Although the original design was unprotected, it was found to have sufficient margin to add a full 51mm belt. Despite being dependent on many imported materials, construction of these ships was completed slightly ahead of schedule; the British and Italians stumbled all over themselves to secure Greek goodwill, even if this meant delays to some of their own projects. Both vessels were launched in 1915; they were named Miaoulis and Katsonis for two heroes of the Greek independence wars. They completed in 1916 and 1917, respectively; trials showed that they met all design requirements. For a first-time effort, they turned out remarkably well. They were rated comfortable, habitable and seaworthy ships, and British and French observers commented favourably on the quality of their workmanship; they were Greece's breakthrough achievement on her way to become a recognized naval power. Both took part in the closing actions of the first world war, were very active during the Greek-Turkish war and served stalwartly in the second world war. Katsonis was lost in 1941 in a surface skirmish with two Italian Piemonte-class super destroyers; Miaoulis was scrapped in 1947.
6.2.6. Kriti-class destroyers
Four M-class destroyers were ordered by the RHN in 1914; they were requisitioned by the RN when the war started, but made available for delivery to Greece before completion after the Hellenic Kingdom had officially joined the Entente in the spring of 1915. Lesvos, Chios, Samos and Kriti - of identical design as the Royal Navy's RTL Melpomene-class - were delivered during the first half of 1916. They narrowly missed the debacle of Gallipoli and spent their service blockading the Turkish coast against virtually zero resistance. On the whole, the class operated rather luckless; Kriti was sunk by the German submarine U-65 in 1917, Lesvos was driven ashore by Turkish coastal artillery after a mine hit during the Turco-Greek war. None of them scored any successes. They were more successful during the second world war; both operated throughout hostilities alongside the RN, and Chios was responsible for sinking two German submarines. They were scrapped in 1947. Plans to built four additional copies domestically from 1916 were shelved due to more pressing requirements; in the end, Greece would not start to build domestic destroyers before 1929, to a wholly different design.
6.2.7. Alkyoni-class torpedo boats
Greece's first domestically built torpedo boats were laid down in 1908 and 1909, after two newly built British Cricket-class torpedo boats (ex TB-17 and TB-18) had been leased for two years to provide a reference. The plans were acquired from the Denny yard of Dumbarton. At 250 tons normal displacement, these ships were large for their category and were not far behind destroyers of ten years ago in terms of size, speed and firepower. With oil-fired turbine engines, they were extremely advanced for Greece's fledgling shipbuilding industry, resulting in ridiculously long construction and trials periods. Nevertheless, the Greek yards eventually delivered, and eight vessels - named Alkyoni, Aigli, Aretousa, Amfrititi, Doris, Dafni, Thetis and Persefoni - were delivered between 1912 and 1913. They had the same performance as their British half-sisters, although they were constantly troubled by engineering and reliability issues resulting from the lack of experience of their builders. None was operational in time for the Balkan wars, but all were active during the first world war, providing escort and minesweeping duties because there simply were not enough targets for real torpedo operations. Aigli and Doris were mined during the war against Turkey in 1922; the rest was discarded in the late 1920s.
6.2.8. Antiopi-class torpedo boats
Apart from their poor reliability, the RHN also criticized the Alkyoni-class for its lack of endurance and very spartanic accomodations. Unlike the RN's Crickets, which were specifically designed for service in the channel, where they were rarely at sea overnight, the RHN's torpedo boats often had to travel long distances all across the eastern Mediterranean and remain on station for days, even weeks. Better accomodation, more fuel and more stores were therefore required. The Hellenic Shipyard reworked the Alkyoni-design with a raised forecastle containing an additional accomodation deck, slightly more beam for greater bunkers and one less torpedo tube to compensate for the added weight (displacement 280 ts). Machinery remained the same, with some slight improvements to retain the Alkyoni's speed of 25 kts. These eight boats - named Antiopi, Antigoni, Terpsichori, Melpomeni, Erato, Atalanti, Faidra and Kleio - were built much quicker than the last ones, reflecting the rapidly growing experience and confidence of Greece's shipbuilders. The first four were laid down during 1914, the next four in 1915, and building times varied between 16 and 26 months; Terpsichori could already be delivered in November 1915. They served pretty much in the same functions as the Alkyonis, just better; none were lost, and Atalanti rammed and sunk the German submarine minelayer UC-53, which was nearly twice its size; Erato and Antiopi torpedoed two Turkish gunboats in 1921 during the landings at Smyrna.
6.2.9. Fokia-class submarines
Two further submarines were ordered in France in 1916. Like the British-built destroyers, they were confiscated unfinished in 1914, but made available for delivery again in 1915. At 460/670 ts, these boats were much larger than the preceding Delphins, and with a speed of 17,5/11 kts, they were devilishly fast for a submarine of their age. Armament was rather heavy with four bow torpedo tubes, four torpedo drop-collars and a 75mm deck gun. They were in fact among the most satisfying French submarine designs of the entire First World War. They were commissioned into the RHN as Fokia and Grampos in 1916, and two domestic copies to be built on Greek yards were approved in the same year. These never materialized, and Greece would not embark on domestic submarine construction again before 1938. Fokia and Grampos served under Hellenic colours till replaced with more modern french-sourced boats in the 1930s. They did not achieve much during the first world war due to a lack of targets, but during the subsequent war against Turkey, both ravaged Turkish coastal shipping rather badly.
6.3. Black Sea operations 1914 - 1918
Although the main goal of Russia's entire war effort was to gain control of the Turkish Straits, they were painfully aware in 1914 that their fleet would not yet be up to the task, at least not before the two Imperatritsa Mariya class dreadnoughts were available, which however would not be the case before mid to late 1915. Four more battleships were under construction, but not to be expected before 1917/18. Consequently, the Russians bid their time and observed neutrality towards Turkey. The Turks on the other hand knew it was now or never; their fleet was temporarily superior, but unlikely to get reinforcements anytime soon. So Admiral Souchon, the German C-in-C of the Ottoman fleet, assumed the role of the villain and attacked the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol in October 1914. The Russians stayed in port and suffered little damage - two large gunboats, two destroyers and three auxiliaries were lost, a battleship and a cruiser were damaged - but the message was that it was the Ottoman Fleet which ruled the Black Sea, not the Russian. The Russian Fleet put to sea a few days later to rectify the picture by bombarding Trabzon; this was exactly what Souchon had been waiting for. The ensuing battle of Yasun - named for Cape Yasun halfway between Samsun and Trabzon, although the battle was fought 140 miles offshore - revealed just how much training, discipline and morale of the Orttoman crews had improved since the Balkan wars. Its result was the largest Ottoman naval victory ever achieved against the Russians. The Russian flagship Ne Tron Menya was sunk by gunfire from all three Ottoman dreadnoughts, and Russian attempts to concentrate the fire of their ships on the Ottoman flagship Yavuz Sultan Selim failed due to a series of technical mishaps in their improvised automatic range transmission system, resulting in the Russians not hitting anything at all. After Ne Tron Menya was gone, the Ottomans turned on the second ship in the Russian line, the Svyatoi Evstafi, and also reduced her to a burning wreck. Then it became dark and foggy, and the Russians managed to disengage; the Ottomans had expected them to make for Sevastopol, but they sailed for Poti and escaped. In early December, both fleets were at sea again when the Russians bombarded Trabzon, but this time the Russians got lucky, managed to evade the much superior Turkish fleet and get the rest of their battlefleet safely back to Sevastopol. On the return leg, Yavuz Sultan Selim struck two mines entering the Bosporus and was out of action for several months. Without dreadnoughts, the Russians remained passive during most of 1915 and sortied only light forces and mine warfare craft. The Ottoman Fleet sortied several times to chase the Russians off and staged a number of raids against Sevastopol, but the mine danger was too great to press such an attack home all the way, as was proven by the loss of Medjidieh to a Russian mine in April. When the Entente attacked Gallipoli in late April, the Russians sortied their fleet to distract the Turks, and the Ottoman fleet duly chased them off, sinking the cruiser Kagul and two destroyers. The chase was cut short by two hits from Panteleimon on the Turkish flagship Kanuni Sultan Suleiman at extreme range, which holed her forefunnel and slowed her down, and a determined torpedo attack by Russian destroyers which failed to score, but forced the Turkish fleet into disarray. The Russians then escaped without further damage. Afterwards, Ottoman fleet forays into the Black Sea were drastically curtailed, and the war in the Black Sea was mostly conducted by light forces and submarines; of the latter, only the Russians could deploy any. The Ottoman main fleet was kept in reserve in the Marmara Sea in case of an allied breakthrough, which ultimately could be prevented. The Russians meanwhile took the opportunity to re-establish their dominion of the Black Sea, frequently appearing off the Turkish coast and interdicting coal deliveries to Constantinople from eastern Anatolia. They sank an alarming number of colliers, threatening to immobilize the Ottoman fleet. As soon as the Russians had commissioned the Imperatritsa Mariya in late summer 1915, their fleet repeatedly bombarded Turkish port cities, particularly Trabzon and Samsun, without significant Turkish resistance (the handful of gunboats and 1890s vintage torpedo boats stationed there were wiped out by year's end). Just when the Ottoman flagship Kanuni Sultan Suleiman had been severely damaged by a British submarine torpedo in December 1915, the Russians commissioned their second dreadnought Imperatritsa Ekaterina Velikaya; the balance of power in the Black Sea now had shifted back in favour of the Russians. As early as January 1916, the Russians steamed up with six battleships to bombard Ottoman fortifications at the northern end of the Bosporus. Admiral Souchon correctly guessed that Russian pre-dreadnoughts were loaded down with HE shells and waited out the bombardment, putting to sea only when the Russians were done and their pre-dreadnoughts were steaming for home with empty magazines. His three battleships, one battlecruiser, three cruisers and twelve destroyers only faced two Russian dreadnoughts plus four destroyers, and the determined Turkish charge convinced the Russian commander to defensively cover his pre-dreadnought's retreat rather than try and destroy the Ottoman fleet, especially as Ekaterina Velikaya's crew was still green. Souchon chased the Russians for a few miles, then gave up due to the ever-worsening coal shortage (and because Yavuz Sultan was hit twice by Imperatritsa Mariya from extreme range; the destroyer Fevz i-Bahri was also repeatedly hit and sank on the return leg). The Russian commander Admiral Eberhart was sacked for failing to bring the Turks to battle, and within two months, the Russians repeated their visit under his more energetic successor Admiral Kolchak. Admiral Souchon's coal supply situation was worse than before, but if it was to improve in the foreseeable future, he had to act. The battle of Cape Pazarbasi was marked by the determination of both sides to force a decision. The Russians placed their dreadnoughts and screening forces in front; their pre-dreadnoughts stayed well behind at first. They opened fire at extreme distance and hit Yavuz Sultan Selim six times before the Ottomans even opened up; Turkish return fire was initially not very accurate. As Yavuz Sultan Selim had started the battle in a damaged state already, she had to veer away, and when Orhan Gazi was hit five times in quick succession and a Russian destroyer torpedoed the Ottoman cruiser Drama, the Ottoman formation lost cohesion and Souchon decided to call it a day. But just as Drama rolled over and sank, Yildirim Sultan Bayezid and Hüdavendigar Sultan Murat finally bracketed Imperatritsa Mariya and hit her eleven times. Yavuz added three hits of her own, and the Russian flagship had to fall back. Imperatritsa Ekaterina Velikaya's gunnery was less precise, but four Russian pre-dreadnoughts now closed in and pounded Orhan Gazi, which trailed the Ottoman line. She was eventually reduced to a sinking condition, and the day threatened to become a veritable debacle for the Ottomans. But then a charge of the Russian screening force was broken up with two destroyers sunk, and a lucky 234mm shell from the old Abdul Kadir blew up the Russian pre-dreadnought Rostisslav by penetrating a half empty coal bunker and causing a catastrophic coal dust explosion. In addition, a torpedo from the Ottoman destroyer Kochisar hit Imperatritsa Ekaterina Velikaya and slowed her down to 12 knots. Thus both sides disengaged after a bloody indecisive mess. During spring, the Russian land offensive threatened to take Trabzon; desperate to prevent this, the Ottomans dispatched the battleships Yildirim Sultan Bayezid and Abdul Kadir and the cruisers Barbaros Hayrettin and Hamidieh to Trabzon to provide fire support. They were instrumental in breaking up a tactical invasion attempt by the Russians and nearly managed to lure Imperatritsa Mariya and Imperatritsa Ekaterina Velikaya, which were hurried to intercept them, into a minefield; this time Imperatritsa Mariya was torpedoed (by the destroyer Feth i-Bülent) and heavily damaged. Three weeks later, Barbaros Hayrettin and Hamidieh escorted a coal convoy to Constantinople and managed to fend off an attack by the Russian cruisers Kagul and Pamyat Merkurija, heavily damaging the former; she had to be taken in tow on the return leg, but the connection broke outside Sevastopol and she drifted on a friendly mine, which destroyed her. After the coal had arrived, Souchon immediately mounted a raid against Tuapse and Poti, sinking several Russian transports, then evading four Russian battleships coming to intercept him; this raid greatly aided Ottoman ground operations to hold Trabzon against the Russians. But after the next three coal convoys were decimated by Russian submarines, the coal shortage became so critical that the Ottoman fleet was for all purposes immobilized during the second half of 1916 and most of 1917, and Trabzon eventually fell. Only light forces could be spared, and three Ottoman destroyers (Tasoz, Muin-i Zafer and Seif-i Bahri), the torpedo gunboat Peleng-i Derya and three gunboats were lost in skirmishes, to mines and even air attacks during the second half of 1916, to little gain. The Russians were also critically weakened in October when Imperatritsa Mariya blew up at anchor for no good reason. After the Central Powers conquered Romania in December 1916, the Ottomans received much needed reinforcements in the shape of four ex-Dutch torpedo boats and ten submarines (the two ordered in 1912, four Type UB II coastal boats (ex UB20, UB27, UB32 and UB39) and four Type UC-II submarine minelayers (ex UC18, UC26, UC32 and UC39), all transferred via the Danube in February 1917). The crews were supplied along, as the Ottomans had no trained submarine personnel, and the subs immediately started operating in the Black Sea. During 1917, the Russians increasingly lost efficiency and drive due to revolutionary subversion among their crews, resulting in a strange lull in Black Sea naval operations during most of 1917; the Ottomans had lost so many transports they could not even re-stock their coal supplies in Constantinople at a time the Russians were no longer regularly raiding their convoys. During the second half of 1917, only a few training sorties were made, which the Russians did not contest with surface forces; during one of them in September, a Russian submarine blew the stern off the light cruiser Cerbe, which had to be towed in and was under repair for the rest of the war. In the same month however, the flagship Kanuni Sultan Suleiman returned from repairs. A month later, Russia was racked by the October Revolution, and even their submarines disappeared; by November, the Ottoman Navy rather unexpectedly was the uncontested master of the Black Sea. The Germans took over the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March and transferred most of the ships to the newly formed Ukrainian Navy, which had nowhere near enough trained personnel to operate them. The Ottoman Empire was awarded the battleship Imperator Nikolai I, the large light cruiser Admiral Nakhimov, two destroyers and two submarines; these brand-new vessels however reached Turkey mere days before the armistice and were not employed during the First World War.
6..4. Naval Operations in the Aegean 1915 - 1918
The naval war in the Aegean began in earnest with the bombardment of the outer forts of Gallipoli by a large fleet of British, French and Greek pre-dreadnoughts in March 1915, stiffened by two British dreadnoughts and a Greek one. Attempts to station the Ottoman fleet close to the battle area and provide some fire support were given up in August, when the armoured cruiser Turgut Reis and the old battleship Messoudieh were sunk by a British submarines which had entered the Sea of Marmara. While the Ottoman coastal batteries, minefields and light forces, supported by a few German submarines, managed to keep the Entente out of the Dardanelles, inflicting bloody losses (the Allies lost the battleships HMS Irresistible, HMS Ocean, HMS Goliath, HMS Triumph and HMS Majestic, plus the French Bouvet) at the price of a single destroyer (Yadigar-i Millet), the Ottoman fleet was kept in readiness at Constantinople throughout 1915, and procedures were established to use the battleships for blind-firing into the straits from behind the cover of land, using land-based spotting. In November 1915, the Allies launched a last ditch attempt to force the Dardanelles, which very nearly broke through because the Turks had withdrawn most of their mobile batteries for use in land warfare. Despite the submarine threat, the Ottoman fleet deployed to their prepared firing positions east of Cape Nara and started pounding the allied fleet, which consisted of a Greek battlecruiser, two French battlecruisers, and six British and two Greek pre-dreadnought battleships. Although Turkish land-based spotting was not very effective, the Allies could not spot the Turkish ships at all and had to suffer their bombardment without being able to return fire. Both French battlecruisers, who led the fleet, were damaged, but the Allies pressed on until a lucky hit from Yildirim Sultan Bayezid caused a major explosion on HMS Prince George, which promtply lost steerage; the next battleship in the line, the Greek Navarinon, maneuvered to avoid ramming her and hit a mine, losing maneuverability as well. This unnerved the British Admiral Wemyss, and as he ordered his six other battleships to turn around, Prince George and Navarinon came under fire by all four Turkish battleships and were both sunk, with over 1.000 casualties between them. Turkish celebrations were cut short by the explosions of two torpedoes fired from the British submarine E11, which rendered the Turkish flagship Kanuni Sultan Suleiman in a sinking condition. The Turks managed to beach and later salvage her, but she was out of action for a year and a half, and when she returned to service in September 1917, she was still only provisionally repaired. After this climactic battle, the Allies gave up trying to force their way through the Dardanelles. Although they completely dominated the Aegean, the Allies made no attempts to invade the long Turkish coast anywhere else, and throughout 1916 and 1917, there were no surface engagements between Ottoman and Entente forces in the Aegean at all. But when Russia succumbed to revolution from October 1917, the Russian Black Sea fleet fell out of the equation in its entirety, enabling the Ottomans to appear in the Aegean once more. Admiral Souchon was recalled to Germany in December and immediately applied pressure upon his successor Admiral Paschwitz to put the Ottoman fleet to some good use in order to take some heat off the besieged Austro-Hungarian Navy; in case of losses, the Ottomans were promised to be compensated with incomplete Russian ships to be obtained as war reparations. In January 1918, Paschwitz took every modern Ottoman ship at his disposal through the Dardanelles to attack the British-French-Greek covering force of three pre-dreadnoughts, three coast-defence ironclads and four small monitors; if these could be driven off or destroyed, the Allies would have to deploy a much more substantial force to the Aegean, weakening Allied presence elsewhere. The plan seemed to succeed; the battle of Bozcaada was an immediate Ottoman success. Paschwitz' forces sneaked upon the allied covering force and destroyed a large and a small monitor, the Greek coast defence battleship Psara and the old French Requin. Of the larger ships, HMS Agamemnon was heavily damaged; and the other two allied ships, HMS Lord Nelson and the Greek battleship Mykale, escorted the crippled Agamenmon and the helpless smaller ships to safety. The Turks returned to Canakkale for the night, but again swept into the Aegean two days later. But now allied reinforcements were available in the shape of a French squadron under Vice Admiral Guepratte consisting of the battleships Condorcet, Diderot, Vergniaud and Voltaire, the battlecruisers Agosta and Beveziers, the Greek superdreadnought mini-battlecruiser Lemnos, four light cruisers (two of them Greek) and sixteen destroyers (four of them Greek), which Ottoman intelligence believed were still in Brindisi. They met the Turks in the battle of Imbros on January 23rd, 1918. The Turks immediately turned for home when they spotted the French, but Guepratte recklessly charged them with his battlecruisers. By the time Paschwitz realized that the French had divided up, he was in a mine-infested area; when he turned his dreadnoughts around to meet Guepratte, Yavuz Sultan Selim struck two mines, flooding her forward magazines, and the light cruiser Midilli struck five, capsizing instantly. With Yavuz Sultan Selim disabled, the French battlecruisers concentrated their fire on Kanuni Sultan Suleiman and hit her seventeen times; after nearly eighteen months out of commission, her crew was not yet proficient enough in damage control to prevent her loss. Just as surprisingly precise fire from Hüdavendigar Sultan Murat damaged Agosta, prompting Guepratte to disengage, the Greek Limnos came in range of the immobilized Yavuz Sultan Selim and pounded her with her big US-built 356mm guns. As Yavuz was already damaged, five hits from Limnos were sufficient to create uncontrollable flooding; the battlecruiser had to be beached on a rocky shore, completely wrecking her lower hull. Then both sides disengaged as daylight failed. The Ottomans lost the destroyer Tir-i Zafer during the retreat to French gunfire. The rest of the Ottoman fleet - now down to four battleships (two of them older than 20 years), one armoured cruiser and three light cruisers - remained passive in Constantinople and were besieged by an allied armada of a French and a Greek battlecruiser, four French dreadnoughts, four French, seven British and one Greek pre-dreadnoughts, and three French, a Greek and two British armoured cruisers. When the war ended in November 1918, the Ottoman fleet had not sortied again. All ships, all the way down to destroyers and torpedo boats, were to be surrendered to the Allies in the Treaty of Sevres, but when the Allies occupied Constantinople, they triggered a Turkish national uprising that resulted in a three year war. The Turkish Nationalists scored a convincing victory, and regained not only many of the lost territories, but also the right to keep the fleet - including the ex-Russian vessels transferred by the Germans in 1918 - without any cessations whatsoever.