So last week we took a look at the 2nd and 3rd Pacific Squadrons that managed to sail all the way around the world only to fall to the guns of Togo's Combined Fleet so comprehensively that it knocked Russia out of the war. Japan, until then a backwater agrarian nation of farmers suddenly became a world power having cowed two major world powers in a single decade.
But what of the 1st Pacific Squadron? The ships that were originally stationed in the Far East to keep the peace and enforce Russian expansionist policies?
These ships were split between two deep water harbours; Vladivostok and Port Arthur on the Liaoyang peninsular.Vladivostok spent much of the year locked up in deep ice restricting shipping but Port Arthur was viable all year round and was protected by steep hillsides on all sides of the harbour basin. Russia took this harbour as a concession from China and was unfortunately not able to finish preparing her for war before the Russo-Japanese War broke out in February 1904. It only had one dry dock which wasn't big enough to carry the big battleships, meaning only the smaller vessels could have below waterline hits effectively repaired.
The Russian Battleship Division was stationed at Port Arthur along with a wide range of Cruisers, Gunboats, Torpedo Boats and Destroyers. Pound for pound it was the most powerful navy in the East at this time...