Nikolai Essen

Nikolai Essen

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Nikolai Essen

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Nikolai Ottovich (von) Essen () (11(23) December 1860, Saint Petersburg - 7(20) May 1915, Tallinn) was a Russia naval commander and admiral from the Baltic German Essen family. For more than two centuries his ancestors had served in the Navy, and seven had been awarded the Order of St. George, the highest military award of the Russian Empire.


Essen entered the Imperial Russian Navy after graduating from the Naval Cadet Corps in 1880. He graduated from the Nikolayev Naval Academy, technical branch, in 1886 with the rank of lieutenant. In the early part of his career he commanded the Minesweeper no 120 (1897–98), the gunboat Grozyachiy (1898–1900), the steamship Slavianka (1901–1902) in the Black Sea and the Mediterranian, followed by the cruiser Novik (1902–1904), which was stationed at Vladivostok with the Russian Pacific Fleet at the start of the Russo-Japanese War.

Essen was placed in command of the Russian battleship Sevastopol in Port Arthur by order of Admiral Stepan Makarov in mid-1904. He fought in the Battle of the Yellow Sea. Despite general indiscipline in the Russian squadron, caught in harbour, during last weeks of the Japanese siege, he managed to keep his battleship in serviceable condition until last days, then scuttled her in a deep water, so that the Japanese could not raise her. He was awarded the Order of St. George (3rd degree). After the end of the war he became the first captain of the British-built armoured cruiser Rurik.

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