Baltic Fleets Pass Through Suez Canal

On Saturday, December 31, 1904, the Egyptian Gazette dedicated a section in the newspaper to announce the future arrival of the third division of the Baltic Fleet at Port Said. It was implied that high precautionary measures were taken along the Canal when the second division passed through it, and it was noted that measures will still be taken, but they won’t be as extensive with the third division passing.

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I found it curious that the Egyptian Gazette found this information so much more important than the other information it notes about the Baltic Fleet, as this was one of the rare inclusions of the Baltic Fleet that was put into its own section rather than in the telegrams section. However, looking deeper into it, I found that it makes sense that the newspaper prioritized this information, since there was clear wariness and hesitancy about Russia on Britain’s end. Russia was seen as a great world power, and “aroused suspicion and fear in England.” Russia was even cautioned to not make any attacks on the Canal earlier in 1877, which it slightly violated in 1904, during the time when the Baltic Fleets were passing through the Suez on the way to battle Japan. Great Britain was even more wary during this time since Japan was their ally, and the nation was on risky terms with Russia already. While getting coal to fuel the ships journey back to Russia, one vessel used the coal in “overhauling neutral ships near the entrance to the canal.” This was a direct violation of the Convention of 1888, which forbade acts of hostility in the Suez Canal.

Furthermore, the Suez Canal played a large role for the Russians during the Russo-Japanese War time. For one, it served as a passage for the Russians to get to Japanese territory quicker and more efficiently, allowing them to rest and fuel up during their journey. Moreover, it served as an easier means of providing reinforcement to vessels, such as when Admiral Rozhestvensky’s ship sunk near Madagascar.

Annie Kryvorutsky
Annie Kryvorutsky

The author, a student at Florida State University, was enrolled in the digital microhistory lab in fall 2022.