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The Action At The Battle Of Sinope

By Expert Author: P. Gruszning

Any contention that the attack by the Russian fleet upon the Turkish fleet laying at anchor in Sinope harbour was conducted by stealth is entirely incorrect. For several days prior to advancing upon the Turkish fleet the presence of the Russian Black Sea fleet under the command of Admiral Nachimoff was known to the Turkish squadron within the harbour. Indeed, it is, given the events which transpired and those which as a matter of failure on behalf of the English Ambassadors in Constantinople and the Admirals in command of the two fleets, did not, it is fair to say that the attack upon the Turkish fleet at Sinope could have, and should have, been both foreseen and prevented.

When the English fleet moved from its anchorage at Besika Bay, at the mouth of the Dardanelles to the Bosphorus, so too did the authority to act against the Russian fleet become invested with the Admirals and Ambassadors. It was the responsibility of the Admiral in command of the fleet and the English Ambassador to determine if the Russian fleet remained in harbour, or if, in fact, the fleet had put to sea. In the event of the Russia fleet being at sea, it was invested with the Admirals and the Ambassador to advance the fleet beyond the Bosphorus into the Black Sea as a measure for deterring any possible attack upon either the Turkish fleet at sea or upon the mainland of Turkey itself. This they failed to do. Indeed, Admiral Adolphus Slade, the English Admiral attached to the Turkish Navy as advisor, was present at Sinope prior to the attack by the Russian fleet. It is also notable that even when knowledge of the Russian fleets presence was conveyed to Constantinople that the authorities and those empowered to act failed to do so. It was later claimed that the information received was only rumour and unsubstantiated.

On November the 30th, under a fair morning breeze the Russian Black Sea fleet, with some of its ships of war under tow by steamships brought forth from Sebastopol, and commanded by Rear-Admiral Fyodor Novosilsky, entered the harbour and engaged the Turkish squadron which consisted solely of frigates and a single steamer the Taif.

The Turkish fleet lying at anchor were the first to open the engagement with, as might be expected when a frigate engages a ship of the line in battle, little result. The Russian ships, commanding more than 700 cannon, proceeded to systematically destroy the Turkish squadron. The first of the Turkish ships engaged was the flagship Auni Allah of 44 guns. She was struck repeatedly with heavy shot and with her cables shattered, she drifted, grounded and caught fire as too did two other Turkish vessels the Nizamie and the Damiad. As the battle raged, another Turkish frigate the Navek Bakhri exploded and sank where she had been anchored, as too was the fate of the smaller corvette the Guli Sephid. In all only one Turkish ship escaped the carnage, the Taif. The Taif, with Admiral Adolphus Slate aboard, weighed anchor as the Russian fleet bore down upon the squadron and despite being struck with several shots, she escaped and carried the news of the attack to Constantinople.

Turkish casualties: There is some speculation of the actual numbers killed at the Battle of Sinope, with estimates of between 3000 and 4000 having been reported. What is known is that of the Turkish forces only 400 survived though most were wounded.

Russian casualties: Again, there is speculation as to the actual numbers of wounded and killed. Some reports indicate that 37 Russian officers and 233 crew were wounded. Other reports suggest the correct figure is 266 killed, although, it is more probable that the first numbers are correct.


P E Gruszning is the author of this article on Battle of Sinope. Find more information, about Crimean War here

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