At first glance, this view appears to be a familiar one - a US Navy predreadnought battleship entering drydock at New York Navy Yard. On closer examination, several features - including the details of the bridge and conning tower - indicate this is not a US battleship at all. Retvizan was, in fact, one of the few export battleships built in the US. She was designed at built by Cramps shipyard, based on the design of an earlier Russian battleship. The resulting ship was considered the best Russian battleship of the era. Her resemblance to a US battleship is not coincidental - immediately after designing Retvizan, Cramp designed the second battleship USS Maine (BB 10), based on his experience with the Russian ship.
Retvizan had an interesting and unusual career. Initially based in western Russia, she soon sailed to Port Arthur, where was torpedoed in a Japanese attack on the night of 8-9 February 1904. After becoming trapped in the harbor entrance, she was raised, repaired, and then again damaged by Japanese guns surrounding the port. Without time for repairs she sailed for Vladivostok, and became involved in the Battle of the Yellow Sea, suffering more damage and once again returning to Port Arthur. Late in 1904 Japanese guns around the port demolished and sank the remaining Russian squadron, including Retvizan. The Japanese took posession of the ship when Port Arthur surrendered on 2 January 1905.
Although Retvizan was badly damaged, she was considered worthy of salvage. She was afloat by September 1905, and in 1908 she entered Japanese service as Hizen. During WWI she was sent across the Pacific to guard against Admiral Graf Spee's squadron of raiding cruisers, but never met this enemy. She also spent a short period at Honolulu, guarding the German cruiser Geier. The end of the war brought the end of the predreadnought battleships, and Hizen was disarmed in 1922, stricken in 1923, and sunk as a target in 1924.
The presence of the pioneering submarine Holland (SS 1) in this photo is surprising, because she was never based at New York. It seems likely she was making a port call during the difficult and dangerous open-ocean transit between Annapolis, her normal base, and Newport, RI, where she operated from June to October, 1901.
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