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> Romanian fleet during WWI
Carol I
Posted: February 28, 2004 11:16 pm
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What happened to the Romanian fleet during and after the 1917 retreat from Wallachia and Dobrudja?

I know for example that SMR Regele Carol I was put at the disposal of the Russian Fleet and that the obsolete Elisabeta cruiser was assigned to guard duties in the Danube Delta. But what has happened to the rest of the fleet?

Probably several other ships from Constanta, besides SMR Regele Carol I, were put at the disposal of the Russians. If this is true, what has happened to them especially in the light of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917?

I am also interested into what has happened to the river monitors of the Romanian Danube Flotilla. Did all of them take refuge in the Danube Delta? Were they all or partly transferred to Russia instead? If yes, when and how did they return to Romania?
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dead-cat
Posted: February 29, 2004 10:03 am
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as far i know, the old protected cruiser "Elisabeta" had her guns (4x 12cm) taken off and used to defend the opposite banks of the Danube from the Tutrakan fortress. she served as guard ship at Sulina.

the 4 modern liners Regele Carol, Dacia, Imparatul Traian and Romania were used as seaplane carriers by the russians.

the monitors remaind under romanian command. they were reinforced by converted gunboats (1916) and 3 russian gunboats, apparently Dontz class but only in 1917.
anyhow, the russian complained about the lack of cooperation and landed their own artillery spotters. also their gunboats and the monitors were apparently used together, but had twice the draught and twice the gun range of the monitors, which was again a source of complaint.
also the russians claimed the romanian monitors usually camouflaged themselves and hid near the short and seldom used their guns to avoid drawing enemy artillery fire, which usedcannons mounted on motorcars to attack riverline military crafts since their own monitors were at that time, confined to the southern part of the Danube and busy there.
this attitude was explained by the fact that the monitors were down to 20 shells/cannon and had to conserve ammo. the start of the war found the monitors ill supplied too, with only 100 shells/cannons.

Averescu was also criticized for not calling the monitors to defend the pontoon bridge during the crossing at Rahovo, which was partially destroyed by german planes and austro-hungarian monitor action.

i don't know what happened to the liners, but the monitors remained unter romanian control through the entire war.

This post has been edited by dead-cat on February 19, 2009 03:50 pm
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Carol I
Posted: February 29, 2004 10:50 am
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[quote]as far i know, the old protected cruiser "Elisabeta" had her guns 4x 12cm) taken off and used to defend the opposite banks of the Danube from the Tutrakan fortress. she served as guard ship at Sulina.[/quote]
This is indeed stated in the material I have indicated in my original message.

[quote]the 4 modern liners Regele Carol, Dacia, Imparatul Traian and Romania were used as seaplane carriers by the russians.[/quote]
How did they get through/over the Bolshevik revolution? On http://www.worldwar2.ro/arme/?category=shi...e=5&language=en it is said that Regele Carol had some brush-off with some rebels. What about the others? How were they affected by the revolution?

[quote]i don't know what happened to the liners, but the monitors remained unter romanian control through the entire war.[/quote]
Thanks for the extensive answer with respect to the activity of the Romanian monitors in 1916. I was however interested in their faith after the enemy gained control of both banks of the Danube up to Braila and all along the Dobrudjan bank. From then on, did the monitors perform any operation under potential cross-fire? Where did they stay between operations?
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dead-cat
Posted: February 29, 2004 10:56 am
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according to our board member Craciunoiu, they were used to counter artillery position at Tulcea, on which occasion "Kogalniceanu" was hit by a shell (July 13th 1917?). i suppose they were based in Reni. since nothing much happened there during 1917 i suppose that's it.
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Carol I
Posted: February 29, 2004 11:19 am
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Thank you for your answer. Now the only questions remaining are those related to the details of the activity of the Romanian liners.
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petru
Posted: March 01, 2004 06:23 pm
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The river monitors participated at the defense of the Danube Delta, but I think you knew that when you posted your question. The Russians requested all the fleet to retreat in Odessa, as no defense was supposed to be organized in the Delta. We had to bargain really hard in order to be allowed to defend the Delta and Sulina harbour.

[quote]Averescu was also citicized for not calling the monitors to defend the pontoon bridge during the crossing at Rahovo, which was partially destroyed by german planes and austro-hungarian monitor action. [/quote]

Are you referring to the Flamanda maneuver?
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Victor
Posted: March 01, 2004 07:56 pm
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According to Marina Romana in primul razboi mondial 1916-1918 by Raymond Stanescu and Cristian Craciunoiu, published by Modelism in 2000, the monitors bombarded Tulcea on 24 And 26 July, 14, 18, 22 and 29 August and 3 November.

The following passenger ships were loaned to Russia for use in military purposes: Imparatul Traian, Principesa Maria, Regele Carol I, Dacia and Romania.

The Romanian crews on the ship were reduced to 30 men and they were then transformed into auxiliary cruisers.

The Principesa Maria was equipped with two 120 mm canons, a mine laying installation and an installation for launching and fishing anti-submarine nets.

The Regele Carol I was equipped with four 101 mm canons, two 63 mm AA cannons, search-lights and two seaplanes. The Romania was armed in the same way, but it took 8 seaplanes onboard.

The Dacia and Imparatul Traian were equipped with four 101 mm canons, two 75 mm AA cannons, search-lights and seaplanes.

After the Buftea Treaty was signed, the Romanian government requested the return of the Romanian ships captured by the Germans in Sevastopol and the ships returned.
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Carol I
Posted: March 02, 2004 08:31 am
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[quote]The river monitors participated at the defense of the Danube Delta, but I think you knew that when you posted your question. The Russians requested all the fleet to retreat in Odessa, as no defense was supposed to be organized in the Delta. We had to bargain really hard in order to be allowed to defend the Delta and Sulina harbour.[/quote]

Thanks for the details. This is what I was looking for. But it still seems odd that the monitors were kept in the delta when the Russian forces have retreated to the north of the Danube.
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Carol I
Posted: March 02, 2004 08:50 am
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[quote]After the Buftea Treaty was signed, the Romanian government requested the return of the Romanian ships captured by the Germans in Sevastopol and the ships returned.[/quote]

Thank you for the comprehensive post Victor. It means therefore that the ships in Russia were first captured by the Germans and then they were returned to Romania. This is a detail I did not know.
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petru
Posted: March 02, 2004 03:45 pm
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Probably that's why we got them back. Pitty the German didn't reach Moscow. We would have got the national treasure back too.
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dead-cat
Posted: March 02, 2004 05:31 pm
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[quote]
Are you referring to the Flamanda maneuver?
[/quote]

no i'm referring to the crossing of the Danube at Rahovo in an attempt to get some units behind the Bulgarian divisions invading Dobrudja. the left bank of the river was still under Romanian control so a dispatch of the monitors would have been possible. navigating along 1 enemy shore was at least common for Austro-Hungarian monitors throught Sptember and October.

[quote]
The Dacia and Imparatul Traian were equipped with four 101 mm canons, two 75 mm AA cannons, search-lights and seaplanes.
[/quote]
that's an odd caliber. were those french guns?
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dragos
Posted: March 15, 2004 09:32 pm
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During February 1918, a duel took place between the Romanian and the Russian Danube fleet, the later having orders from "Centroflot" to maintain a bridgehead at Vâlcov, for future actions in Bessarabia.

The action started on 27 January/9 February 1918, when Russian boats attempted a landing at Periprava, and were met with fire from Romanian marine infantry. Romanian artillery damaged Russian barges K1 (engine) and K3 (below deck). The monitors of the I Division opened fire at 9.30 hours, but being fired at, and "Bratianu" being hit in the spardeck, they retreated 2 km upstream. At 11.30 hours, the monitors of the II Division retreated too. "Bratianu" fired 41 rounds at barge K15, "Catargiu" fired 46 rounds at ground positions. Of the II Division, "Lahovari" fired 32 rounds at gunboat "Teret" and at ground positions, "Kogalniceanu" fired 5 rounds at Vâlcov village.

During 29 Januray, gunboats "Teret" and "Kubanet" shelled Romanian positions at Jibrieni, and on 30 January, the barges shelled Peripava. The attempt of taking over Peripava during 31 January failed.

On 1 February a cannonade started between Romanian and Russian artillery and vessels. At 16.20 hours, the gunboat "Donet" was hit by three 75 mm shells and retreated on Oceacov branch. At 16.30 hours the barge K15 also retreated. The retreat was joined by K11, K9, K5, K6. The barges K14 and K13 remained on position and fired at Romanian monitors, but the fire was very inaccurate. As the fire of monitors shifted on Oceacov branch, the barges K14 and K13 retreated towards the sea.

Other minor actions took place for several days, including the capture of Russian tug "Kilkis".
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Carol I
Posted: March 16, 2004 10:33 am
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Interesting piece of information, Dragos. Thanks.
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Victor
Posted: March 16, 2004 04:31 pm
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On 20 January 1918, the Romanian 13th Infantry Division started to cross the river Prut into Bessarabia at Cahul. Its mission was to occupy the southern part of the province. This action was part of the response to the request for aid forwarded by the Romanian Assembly in Chisinau (Sfatul Tarii). In this action was also involved the Romanian Danube fleet, stationed initially at Chilia Veche.

On 26 January, Soviet Russia declared war on Romania and the two former allied fleets were now enemies. To prevent any offensive action from the Soviet side, the Marine Battalion had occupied Periprava and dug in, while the 1st Monitor Division positioned itself on the Tataru Channel and the 2nd Division on the Babina Channel.

The Soviet side initiated the provocations. On 26 January, two destroyers anchored at Sulina and started spreading leaflets to the Romanian sailors, encouraging them to join the Revolution. They arrested 3 Romanian officers at Ismail, but they managed to escape during the night. On 29 January the Revolutionary Committee of the Russian Danube Fleet met with cdor. Scodrea, the CO of the Romanian Danube Fleet, and expressed their desire to leave for Russia, preferably without having to fight.

The Russian Fleet had two gunboats (the Donetsk and Teretz) at Ismail and one gunboat (Kubanetz) and four lighters armed with 150 mm guns at Chilia Noua. At Valcov were the rest 11 armed lighters and tugs.

Elements of the 13th Infantry Division (Col. Dragu Detachment) closed in on Ismail on 3 February. The Romanian scouts and patrols were attacked by Russian soldiers. Three monitors (NMS Bratianu, NMS Catargiu and NMS Lahovari), the command ship Macin and a patrol boat were positioned 2 km after Copana Balka, ready to open fire on the Soviet ships at Ismail. The NMS Kogalniceanu, three patrol boats and a floating battery (armed lighter) were at Chilia Veche, prepared to stop any reinforcements coming from Valcov. Three Oltul class gunboats were deployed at Periprava as a forward position against the Bolshevik ships at Valcov. The two Russian gunboats were obviously outnumbered and isolated, so the Russians announced that they wish to retreat to the sea, without fighting and they were allowed to. At 16:40 the Ismail harbor had been occupied and any resistance ceased.

The occupation of Chilia Noua was decided for 7 February. For this action, to support the Col. Dragu Detachment advancing along the river, the Romanian Danube Fleet was deployed in the following manner: the monitors at Chilia Veche, two patrol boats, lighters with 47 mm guns and 120 mm howitzers at the mouth of the Tataru Channel, the Oltul class gunboats plus the second lighter with 120 mm howitzers in front of Chilia Veche to prevent a Soviet attack. A mine-laying pontoon was a km 36, protected by patrol boat no. 6. This deployment made the Soviet fleet rethink its plan to bombard the ships at Chilia Veche and retreat to Valcov, abandoning Chilia Noua, which was occupied by Romanian sailors.

Thus Valcov remained the only port in Soviet possession. The entire Soviet fleet was gathered there: three gunboats, 9 artillery lighters, two armed tugs, auxiliary ships. There were also two infantry regiments entrenched around the city in the villages Galilesti, Jibrieni and Ghibarteni.

The Romanian plan called for a combined assault from land and Danube. The Col. Dragu Detachment (3 infantry battalions, two artillery batteries and one section, one cavalry squadron) had to attack from the north on the direction of Jibrieni, while the Navy had to land a battalion near Valcov and attack from the west. The action was planned for 10 February.

The Russian fleet had deployed the Donetsk and the Kubanetz at the mouth of the Oceakov Channel, on the right bank and the Teretz and the K15 artillery lighter on the left bank. The K5 and K6 lighters were positioned upstream from Valcov, while six other lighters (K1, K3, K7, K8, K13, K14) were on the Oceakov Channel, downstream from Valcov. K2 and K12 were at the mouth of the Polunozhnoe Channel. The command ship Provornii was anchored in front of Valcov.

However, the Soviets started the battle on 9 February. They had already shelled Periprava and the Letea forest the previous day. Early in the morning, the monitors took up their positions on the Cernofen Channel. The observer was set up in the church tower in Periprava. The Mihai Viteazul tug with two lighters was standing by, ready to transport two companies over the river. At 8:00 Soviet boats approached Periprava as if preparing to land. The marines in Periprava opened fire on the attackers. The howitzer battery in Periprava started to shell Valcoiv and the Soviets responded opening fire. By 9:30 the communications with the observation post in the Periprava church tower had been established and the monitors also opened fire, but the observation post was hit by a Soviet shell and the accuracy of the monitors' fire decreased. In the meantime, the Soviets managed to establish communications with their observatory in the church tower in Valcov and started firing on the Romanian monitors. At 10:00 the 1st Monitor Division was targeted very accurately. The NMS Bratianu was hit in the spardek. The two monitors retreated 2 km upstream. At 11:00, the 2nd Division was also targeted very accurately and had to retreat upstream. Bratianu fired 41 rounds at the K15 lighter, Catargiu fired 46 rounds on the church in Valcov. From the 2nd Division, Lahovari fired 32 rounds on the Teret gunboat and on ground positions, while Kogalniceanu fired 6 on Vâlcov. The Soviets had also suffered losses, especially from to the 75mm battery east of Periprava. The K1 lighter suffered damage to the engines and retreated with K3, K5 and K6 on The Ocheakov Channel. The K3 was also hit below the floating line and had to be parked on the Polunozhnoe Channel for repairs. The Dragu Detachment had occupied Galilesti, Ghibarteni and Jibrieni, but could not keep latter, because of the intense artillery fire from the Soviet ships off the coastline. The 1st Monitor Division was deployed at Km. 37, to support a marine company, while the 2nd Monitor Division guarded the mine field on the Babina Channel at Km. 34.

The Soviets received help from Sevastopol, some 50 gunners brought by the Jarkii destroyer the same day. Thus on 11 February the Kubanetz and the Teretz bombarded the Romanian troops of the coast from Jibrieni and the following day the lighters bombarded Periprava.

During 13 February, the Donetsk and the K15 lighter bombarded Periprava and at 23:00, 200 Soviet soldiers tried to take the village, but they were repulsed with heavy losses. There were 3 Marine companies, one engineer company, one machine-gun company, one infantry company from the 47th Regiment, one 37mm battery, one 75 mm battery, two 127mm howitzer batteries and an artillery lighter near Periprava. The Dragu Detachment also held its positions in front of the Bolshevik assaults. The 13th Infantry Division had already intercepted the communication line with Cetatea Alba, thus Valcov was completely isolated.

On 14 February commenced the Romanian offensive. During the morning, the Soviet batteries near Valcov and a lighter fired on Romanian positions. The very powerful response was unexpected for the Soviets. The Romanian observers were positioned in the Nebuna forest. The bombardment destroyed the Soviet observatory in the church tower in Valcov, as well as the telephone lines, thus blinding the Soviet fleet. The Donetsk was damaged and forced to retreat on the Oceakov Channel, where it ran aground. The K15 lighter also retreated and so did the K11, K9, K5, K6. The K13 and K14 remained behind to cover the retreat, but by 18:00 they also were forced to retreat to the sea.

The following day, a delegation from the Valcov came to surrender the city to the Romanian fleet, as it had been evacuated by the Bolsheviks. Because of the bad weather, the Soviet fleet could not retreat entirely. Thus the K5, K6, K13 and K14 took up firing positions on the Oceakov Channel. The Kilgis tug was sent to Bazargiuk for recon and to install an observation post. At Valcov, at 17:45, it was surprised by patrol boats no. 4 and 5, which opened fire it. The tug ran aground and the crew ran away, many being taken prisoners. More importantly however was the capture of the entire communications equipment of the Soviet fleet, which practically blinded them. At 16:30 two marine companies landed at Valcov and by 19:30 the capitulation was signed.

On 17 February, the Romanian monitors occupied firing positions at Valcov, but the Soviets retreated to the sea. Several lighters that were left behind, as well as two lighters that ran aground at Jibrieni were captured.

The Soviets made several recon raids with a destroyer on the Oceakov Channel, which led to the deploying of a minefield on the channel.

This is the summary of the battle fought between the Romanian and Bolshevik navies in early 1918.
Source: "Marina Romana in primul razboi mondial" by Raymond Stanescu and Cristian Craciunoiu, Modelism, 2000
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tjk
Posted: March 17, 2004 01:34 pm
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Very interesting article. This is the first I have ever read of Soviets and Romanians fighting in 1918. A suggestion, I would put this in the military operations section of this website.
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