Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The other two Varyags: The Russo-Japanese ship and the Chinese casino

The Russian navy's guided missile cruiser Varyag is docked in San Francisco and open to visitors tomorrow.  The history of its two predecessors are full of intrigue and had A LOT of unexpected owners.

Varyag I.  Varyag means Viking, BTW.

  • The cruiser was built in and launched out of Philadelphia in 1899.
  • Commissioned into Imperial Russian Navy in 1901.
  • In battle against Japan in the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, the crew sank it on purpose off of Incheon, Korea.
  • The Imperial Japanese Navy salvaged it and it served as the light cruiser Soya.
  • During World War I, Japan and Russia were allies so the ship was returned to Russia at Vladivostok in 1916 and renamed the Varyag.
  • Sent to Great Britain for overhaul so that it could be used in Russia's Arctic squadron.
  • Because of October Revolution in 1917, the British seized it.
  • Sold to Germany for scrap in 1920.
  • While en route to Germany, it sunk off of a Scottish village.
Varyag II.  
  • The aircraft carrier project began in the Soviet Union in 1985.
  • After the breakup of the USSR, the unfinished ship was transferred to Ukrainian ownership in 1992.
  • With no engines, rudders, or electronics, it was put up for auction in 1998.
  • A dummy corporation in Macau snatched it up under the false pretense that it was going to be turned into a casino.  
  • In 2002, it reached Dalian, China, where it is being converted into a Chinese aircraft carrier.
Here are some cool Varyag II photos from here.

Under construction in the Ukraine.

Being towed near Turkey.

Dalian shipyard in China.

2008 photo.

Full-scale training mock-up in Wuhan.


Alan said...

Wuhan Wuhan! I got you all in check!

- Busta Rhymes.

Interesting stuff, that name carries something with it I guess. I wish I had visited a few days later, would have loved the opportunity to visit the Varyag. BTW, which Varyag is the cruier?

Maxichamp said...

@Alan. I'm not a boat guy so I don't know what technically constitutes a cruiser. Apparently, the one in SF now is a guided missile "cruiser".

Here are some great pics from SF.

Alan said...

Hmmm... the Russisn cowboy.

How things have changed, a nuclear missled equipped Russian vessel invited into a major American port.