Under the Andreevsky flag

The ceremony of raising the Andreevsky flag on the corvette “Loud” project 20380

The St. Andrew’s flag, which has become the official symbol of the Russian fleet, is familiar to everyone in Russia. The Russian naval flag flies proudly on the warships of the Russian Navy. At the same time, the St. Andrew’s flag itself has a very long and glorious history, in which Christian traditions, sovereign stories, examples of courage and heroism are intertwined. Suffice it to say that during all the time the St. Andrew’s flag was voluntarily descended on Russian ships only twice. The second time this happened during the Battle of Tsushima, which became the blackest page in the history of the Russian fleet.

Why is the flag called Andreevsky

The flag is called St. Andrew’s in honor of Andrew the First-Called, the apostle and first disciple of Jesus Christ. Thus, the origin of the flag directly refers us to the origins of Christianity. According to legend, Andrew the First-Called was crucified on a diagonal cross, which later gave the name to both the cross and the flag. The apostle was called the First-Called because he was the first one whom Christ called to be his disciple.

According to the history of early Christianity, Andrew was born in Bethsaida, located on the northern shore of the Sea of ​​Gallilee. He was a brother of the Apostle Peter, both brothers were fishermen, which later led to the protection of the brothers over sea trade.

Under the Andreevsky flag

Statue of the Apostle Andrew in the Lateran Cathedral in Rome

National flag of Scotland

The first official flag that contained the image of St. Andrew’s Cross was the flag of the Kingdom of Scotland. This event was preceded by a beautiful legend, according to which in 832 King Angus II, who led the united army of Scots and Picts, defeated the army of Angles, which was led by King thelstan. According to legend, on the night before the battle, Angus II prayed to God for the grant of victory, making a vow that in case of a favorable outcome of the battle, he would declare the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called the patron saint of all Scotland. When in the morning over the battlefield the clouds formed an oblique cross on which Andrew the First-Called was crucified at one time, the Scots and Picts were inspired, and the Angles, on the contrary, were seized by anxiety. Angus’s army, outnumbered by the Angles, achieved victory that day, and the Apostle Andrew was proclaimed the patron saint of Scotland.

At the same time, for a long time, the symbolism in the form of St. Andrew’s Cross was not used in any way. The first example of the use of this image dates back to 1286, it was contained on the seal of the Scottish Guard. The first image of a flag with a cross dates back to 1503, when the cross was located on a red background. The background change first took place later, at least in the middle of the 16th century. Since then, a blue rectangular panel with a white oblique St.Andrew’s Cross has remained the historical, official and state symbol of Scotland. After the unification of England and Scotland, the famous “Union Jack” appeared, combining the Scottish Saint Andrew and the English Saint George.

Scotland flag

The St. Andrew’s flag was also met on the military and merchant courts of the Kingdom of Poland, which was formed in 1815 following the results of the Vienna Congress and became part of the Russian Empire. The canvas was a classic St. Andrew’s flag, which was used in the Russian navy, only with a red canton in the upper left corner, on which was placed the image of the coat of arms of Poland – a silver-crowned eagle. In this form, the flag existed until the Polish uprising of 1830-1831, after the suppression of which, like all other state flags of the Kingdom of Poland, it was canceled.

The appearance of the Andreevsky flag in Russia

In Russia, the St. Andrew’s flag appeared thanks to Emperor Peter I. This happened in 1699. The young Russian tsar paid great attention to the development of the fleet, and took part in the creation of flags. The first two projects were presented by Peter I just in 1699, one of them contained the image of St. Andrew’s cross against the background of three horizontal stripes. The choice was not accidental, Andrew the First-Called was a saint revered in the country. It was believed that he managed to visit the lands of the future Rus before he was martyred. Since the 11th century, the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called was considered the heavenly patron of Russia.

Already on December 1, 1699, a new flag with the image of St. Andrew’s Cross was proclaimed by the tsar as the official one for the Russian fleet. The first St. Andrew’s flag, which occupied the entire panel, appeared a little later – in 1710-12, and in 1720 it was finally confirmed in the naval charter. When writing the charter, Emperor Peter I gave the flag the following description: “The flag is white, across which there is a blue St. Andrew’s cross, with which he christened Russia.” In the form that became traditional for the Russian fleet, the flag existed until the October Revolution of 1917.

Outline of flags made by Peter I in October 1699

It was reinstated as the official banner of the Russian Navy in 1992. An interesting fact is that from 1992 to 2000 the Russian Navy used the St. Andrew’s flag with a blue cross. The traditional and historical version with a blue St. Andrew’s cross on a white background in the Russian fleet finally returned in 2001.

Andreevsky flag was lowered on Russian ships only twice

Voluntarily, the St. Andrew’s flag on the ships of the Russian fleet was lowered only twice in the entire history of its use. The first time this happened during one of the many Russian-Turkish wars, in this case – 1828-1829. On May 1, 1829, the captain of the 2nd rank Semyon Stroynikov lowered the flag on his frigate “Raphael”, not accepting battle with the Turkish squadron, which consisted of 15 warships. He explained his decision by the desire to save the life of the frigate’s crew at the end of the war in the battle, which could not affect its outcome.

Saving hundreds of lives of officers and sailors, Stroynikov took the brunt of the blow. Emperor Nicholas I demoted Semyon Stroynikov to ordinary sailors, and also deprived him of the nobility. The very name of the frigate “Raphael” was covered with shame, the emperor ordered to burn the ship when the opportunity presented itself. It was possible to carry out this assignment 24 years later, already during the Battle of Sinop. At the same time, the name “Raphael” was never again used as a name for the ships of the Russian fleet.

Stroynikov, who was also deprived of all his awards and titles, could no longer marry, so as “not to have the offspring of a coward and a traitor in Russia.” The decision is rather strange, considering that by that time Stroynikov was already married, he already had two sons. Despite the incident with their father, Stroynikov’s sons were able to freely receive a naval officer’s education, took part in the defense of Sevastopol during the Crimean War, and both rose to rear admirals by the end of their careers.

A painting in which the captured “Admiral Apraksin” and “Admiral Senyavin” are brought into the Japanese naval base in Sasebo

The second case of the descent of the Andreevsky flags occurred during the most terrible tragedy of the Russian fleet – the Battle of Tsushima. At the end of the battle, Rear Admiral Nebogatov decided to surrender the detachment of ships headed by him, among which were the battleships Eagle and Emperor Nicholas I, as well as the coastal defense battleships Admiral Senyavin and General Admiral Apraksin. In fairness, it should be noted that the seriously battered Russian ships the day before simply had no chance in a battle against the superior Japanese forces. The Japanese forces surpassed Nebogatov’s detachment in travel speed, artillery firing range, and the Russian battleships simply could not reach the enemy, almost all the artillery was knocked out on the ships, and the shells were almost completely used up. Of all the surrender detachment escaped only the 2nd rank cruiser “Emerald”, which, thanks to her speed, managed to break through the ranks of the Japanese fleet and break away from pursuit.

Like Stroynikov earlier, Nebogatov explained his act with a desire to save thousands of lives of the sailors and officers entrusted to him. As in the 19th century, the punishment was severe. The admiral was stripped of all ranks, after which he was put on trial, which already in 1906 sentenced Nikolai Ivanovich Nebogatov to death, replaced by 10 years in a fortress. After serving just over two years in prison, the former admiral was released by Emperor Nicholas II due to poor health.

Crew of a proud minesweeper

Already after the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia, the small minesweeper “Kitoboy” and its crew went down in history, showing exemplary courage. In 1920, the ship, commanded by Lieutenant Oskar Fersman, fled Estonia, fearing a possible capture by the local authorities. The St. Andrew’s flag was raised on the ship. The team of the minesweeper “Kitboy” decided to go to Wrangel’s troops in the Crimea, for this the ship had to go through all of Europe. On February 27, the ship entered Copenhagen, where there was already a strong British squadron, whose command ordered the Russian minesweeper to lower the flag, since Great Britain no longer recognized it. In Soviet Russia, the flag was abolished back in November 1917.

The modern look of the naval flag of the Russian Federation

The commander of the minesweeper responded with a firm refusal to the British demand, announcing that he would fight, but would not lower the flag. At the same time, only two guns were installed on board the small ship. The brewing conflict was resolved only after the personal intervention of Empress Maria Feodorovna, who at that time was already in Copenhagen. With her direct help, the ship was supplied with a supply of coal and the necessary food and released from the port. Ultimately, the Kitboy safely reached Sevastopol on its own, which later left along with other warships of the Black Sea Fleet during the evacuation of Wrangel’s troops from the Crimea.

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