Source: Arabic.Net – Taha Abdel Nasser Ramadan
According to the Russian navy plan, Russian experts have tended to produce a unique type of ship made from other materials other than wood, and its draft exceeds 3.3 meters and is capable of carrying 280 mm cannons. To some extent, these standards coincided with the idea of the rounded battleship of the famous Russian Admiral Andreï Popov, where the latter believed in the necessity of conducting experiments on new ship models to maintain Russia’s position in the Black Sea.
On 21 May 1873, the first Andrey Popov ships were launched. With the presence of Emperor Alexander II, the ship called the Novgorod set off to stun all of those present. According to the designs, the weight of Novogrod was estimated at more than 2500 tons, and because of its circular shape, this ship knew different measurements to its counterpart, with a radius of 30.8 meters, and it was equipped with six engines that enabled it to achieve a short velocity estimated at 6.5 knots. With regard to armament, the Novogrud was provided with two 279 mm guns, the armor thickness of which ranged between 70 and 229 mm, while its crew numbered 151 sailors.
On the other hand, the battleship of the Novogrod drew mockery from the rest of the countries, as many called it the floating soup bowl. Moreover, this ship suffered from numerous problems that made it worthless and quickly lost its position, as its captain encountered difficulties in directing it, especially during storms, due to its circular shape, and was also characterized by its slow movement, which took 45 minutes to do a full turn around itself and consumed huge amounts of coal Compared to other ships.
Also, the novogroud was characterized by the problems of ventilation inside and the lack of experience of those working on board as it was poorly armed as its crew took more than 3 minutes to direct the cannons towards the target as it was said that it was able to fire one shell every 10 minutes. Also, the circular shape of the ship caused a problem that embarrassed Russian officials and caused many ridicule. When firing its cannons, the Novogrod suffered tremors that made it spin around and changed the direction of its cannons. Because of this, the crew of this battleship had to stop the engines and install them, by throwing the anchor and heavy chains, to fire, making it a kind of floating fortress.
Despite placing a similar barge bearing the name Popov after the idea of September 25, 1875 and introducing many modifications to it, the Russian Empire was unable to fix the many faults of this type of ship, which remained of little value and was considered a waste of the country’s money and energies. During the Russo-Ottoman War between 1877 and 1878, the Russian Navy preferred to keep the Novogrod and Popov warships near Odessa, refusing to involve them in any significant battle. Over the following decades, Novogrud and Popov remained tight at Odessa, coinciding with the isolation of Andrei Popov after Alexander III’s ascension to the throne of Russia, and they knew a humiliating fate in 1913 after selling them to a number of properties who preferred to dismantle them.