Grace and Age – Russia’s Fleet of Classic Warships

Although it lacks a naval history the equivalent of Great Britain, Russia maintains a fleet of beautiful sailing ships that travel the world extensively for display and to take part in regattas. We highlight several of these wonderful vessels and their unique history below.

The barque Sedov was originally launched in 1921 as Magdalene Vinnen II.  During its service in Nazi Germany in 1945, it sailed under the name Kommodore Johnsen.

But in 1945, it changed hands and went over to the Soviet Union as part of war reparations, where it was ultimately given the name it still has today, named after Georgy Sedov, the famous Russian polar explorer.  The Sedov is one of the oldest Russian sailing ships, and it is still in service today.

It’s also one of the largest sailing ships still sailing.  The Sedov served as a training ship for naval cadets and has been involved in Atlantic Ocean oceanographic studies.  In 1983, when the ship was docked in the German port of Bremerhaven, the first crews of the barque when it belonged to Germany, along with the ship’s original owners, took the opportunity to visit.

The Sedov (Russian four-masted barque, 1921) near the harbour of Sète, Hérault, France CC BY-SA 3.0
The Sedov (Russian four-masted barque, 1921) near the harbour of Sète, Hérault, France CC BY-SA 3.0

The history of another barque, Kruzenshtern, shares similar characteristics to that of Sedov.  Launched in the Weimar Republic as Padua, it went to the Soviets as war reparations following the end of the Second World War, where it was renamed after the famous Russian admiral and explorer Ivan Kruzenshtern.

Afterwards, it was used as a training vessel.  Nowadays, despite its age, Kruzenshtern has become a permanent fixture of international regattas.  It has sailed around the world twice.  The first time was in 1995-1996 and then again more recently in 2005-2006.

Sail Amsterdam – Veemkade – View NW on the Mooring of Tall Ship Kruzenshtern.Photo: Txllxt TxllxT CC BY-SA 4.0.jpg
Sail Amsterdam – Veemkade – View NW on the Mooring of Tall Ship Kruzenshtern.Photo: Txllxt TxllxT CC BY-SA 4.0.jpg

Another ship, this one named Mir, which is Russian for peace, and managing a speed of 19.4 knots (or 35.9 kilometers an hour), she is one of the fastest sailing ships around today, participating frequently in all of the major races.

In 1992, for example, the Mir won the Grand Regatta Columbus race, which itself is devoted to the 500th anniversary of the voyage of Christopher Columbus and the discovery of the Americas.  For their victory, the crew received their award personally from Juan Carlos I of Spain.

The Mir, Russian three-masted square built in 1987.Photo taken July 14, 2005 in Cherbourg during the Tall Ships’ RacePhoto Loïc Evanno CC BY-SA 2.5
The Mir, Russian three-masted square built in 1987.Photo taken July 14, 2005 in Cherbourg during the Tall Ships’ Race
Photo Loïc Evanno CC BY-SA 2.5

Rivaling the Mir for sheer speed is the Pallada.  It is capable of traveling at speeds up to 18.8 knots, or 34.8 kilometers an hour.  Like many others on this list, it’s used for both Russian cadet training and scientific research.

It was named after the frigate that completed a historical journey from Kronstadt, across the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans to finally bring Russian diplomats to Japan between 1852-1855.

Training frigate Pallada IMO Number: 8511847 MMSI: 273815200 Callsign: UDUI Length: 94 m Beam: 14 m. Photo: Дальрыбвтуз CC BY-SA 3.0
Training frigate Pallada IMO Number: 8511847 MMSI: 273815200 Callsign: UDUI Length: 94 m Beam: 14 m. Photo: Дальрыбвтуз CC BY-SA 3.0

The name Nadezhda, which means hope in Russian, is the name of two separate ships sailing under the Russian flag today.  One of these two ships is a training schooner that dates back to 1912.  Like other ships in this list, the Nadezhda has had a storied history prior to becoming Russian property.

Its story begins in the Netherlands before traveling to Germany, where it belonged to the famed hero of the First World War, Felix von Luckner, who is better known by his nickname “Sea Devil.”  Luckner was a German naval officer who made a career out of hunting down enemy merchant convoys at the helm of the world’s last fighting sailing ship, Seeadler.

Nadieżda (Nadezhda)
Nadieżda (Nadezhda)

The other Nadezhda, a frigate, unlike the schooner, isn’t so old.  It was built in Poland in 1991, and used almost exclusively as a training vessel, with the only exceptions being official scientific expeditions and some alternative international regattas.

Both of the Nadezhdas acquired their name in honor of the historic and legendary sloop that accomplished Russia’s first circumnavigation of the globe in the early nineteenth century.

Shtandart (ship, 1999). During the event “Escale à Sète 2016”. Sète, Hérault, France.Photo Christian Ferrer CC BY-SA 4.0
Shtandart (ship, 1999). During the event “Escale à Sète 2016”. Sète, Hérault, France.Photo Christian Ferrer CC BY-SA 4.0

Originally constructed in 1999, Shtandart is a direct replica of the Russian Baltic Sea Fleet’s first ship, designed and launched in 1703 in order to protect the newly established St. Petersburg.  The Shtandart is run by a crew consisting of trained volunteers from the “Shtandart Project.”  The project welcomes any and all guests to participate in voyages aboard the Shtandart.