HMS Russell


Maximum Depth: 113/115m
Constructed 1899
Weight (tons): 14000 TONS
Dimensions: 140m LONG – 25m WIDTH 9m DEPTH
Builders: HULL
Armament: 4x12"Guns + 12x6"Guns + 12x3"Guns + 6x3 Pdr Guns + 2 Maxims + 4 torpedo Tubes
Propulsion: 2 shaft triple expansion, 18000 ihp,19 Knots

Compliment: 800 Men


The HMS RUSSELL was built at Hull, laid down at Jarrow on the 11th March 1899 and launched in February 1901. The HMS RUSSELL was a DUNCAN CLASS Battleship, distinguishable by the equally sized funnels, lower freeboard and lack of prominent ventilation cowls. Armour had to be sacrificed in order to increase speed whilst a the same time reducing size. With a speed of 19 Knots she was one of the fastest warship afloat of her time.

She was commissioned in 1903 and joined the Home Fleet from April 1906 but was transferred in the Atlantic Fleet the next year. She returned home in August of 1912 and joined in 1913, the 2nd fleet at Nore. She become the flagship with the grand fleet in 1914 with the 6th Battle Squadron then moved to the 3rd Battle Squadron to take part in the northern patrols. HMS Russell join the Channel Fleet in November 1914 and after bombarding Belgium was sent to the Dardanelles. She stayed at Mudros as support alongside HMS Hibernia in November 1915 and took part in the evacuation on 7th January 1916. is said that the ship arrived in Malta on the night of the 26 of
It is said that the ship arrived in Malta on the night of the 26 of April 1916.

Admiral Sydney Freemantle commanded RUSSELL at the time of the loss and her captain was Capt. W. Bowden Smith. She carried 4x12”& 12x6” guns whilst she mounted a secondary armament of 12 pounders. As grand harbour was closed due to the boom defence, she had to wait until morning before entering. While manoeuvring outside the harbour, she struck a mine and became one of the first victim of the German mine laying submarines, one of which, the U-73 had voyaged from Kiel to Malta under the command of Cdr. Gustav Siess. On the 23.04.1916 the U-73 laid 22/36 mines at about 50m. a part in front of Grand Harbour before proceeding to Cattaro.

Before sinking, the RUSSELL floated for 20 minutes before capsizing, her huge hull showing above the water before being engulfed by waves. 126 sailors died and 625 were saved including the Admiral and the Captain. Court marshal report states hat the RUSSELL sank 4.2 miles from St. Elmo breakwater lighthouse, and a report of the tragedy can be found on the Daily Malta Chronicles of 1/5/16.

The HMS RUSSELL lies at a depth of 113/115 metres and was dived upon for the first time in July 2003 by a British technical diving team “Starfish Enterprise”. She was found completely upside down, with the stern section missing. It is believed that most of the large guns maybe lying on the sea bed as these were only placed on the deck.