Admiral Makaroff's Battle Instructions

17th March, 1904, No. 21.

In Accordance with Article 107 of the Naval Regulations, I promulgate Instructions for steaming and fighting.


1. The battleships when steaming will be in line ahead, and the cruisers will perform scout duty to the north, east, south, and west of the squadron. In some cases I may give other bearings. (Fig. 1.)

2. The cruisers will keep within the limits of visibility of signals or within the limits of clear wireless telegraphy.

3. The number of destroyers with me will depend on the operation that is being undertaken. They will form two groups; one at the distance of one mile to the northward of the fleet, and the other to the southward.

4. One of the torpedo vessels will be attached to my ship and will keep to leeward and as close to me as possible, but in action will withdraw so as not to come under fire. She will carefully look out for the signal to close in order to transmit my orders where required. She will repeat signals as far as she is able.

5. The cruisers will hold a course parallel to that of the squadron, turning simultaneously with it, and maintaining the same relative positions.

6. The enemy will probably be sighted by one of the cruisers, which must signal the information to me, and then, if we approach the enemy, the cruiser must close the squadron without signal, so as not to be cut off, and not to come under the fire of an enemy stronger than herself.

7. Before commencing an action I shall probably make the signal TZ-"Recall from chasing." On this signal, the cruisers will take station in the line of battleships, and the destroyers on the disengaged side, the first group abeam of the leading vessel, and second abeam of the rear vessel. (Fig. 2.)

8. If this signal is not made, the cruisers, seeing that the action is about to commence, must take station in the line of battleships, under the command of their flag officer.

9. I shall place the cruisers in the line in order that they may not interfere with the field of fire of the guns of the fleet. In this position they will, when possible, take part in the general artillery action, but their main function will be to envelop that portion of the enemy's line which is subject to attack and place it between two fires when an opportunity offers.

10. I propose to close the enemy with caution, for a rapid approach may lead to accidental casualties.

11. I propose line ahead formation for the ships because the course may be altered without signal. The destroyers, when this is possible, will, by signal of their commanders, steam in line abreast, this being the most convenient formation for a simultaneous attack. In order to make a turn the commander of the group will blow a whistle once or twice and then all will repeat the whistles and turn together, taking care not to collide, and reducing or increasing speed so as to be in their proper station on the new course as soon as possible.

12. The repeating ship, if such there be, will keep abeam of the center ship, at a distance of five cables from the line.

13. In action the distance apart of ships in line will be two cables, including the length of the ship. By keeping the vessels closed up we shall be able to place three of our own vessels against each two of the enemy's, and thus be stronger than him at every phase of the engagement.

14. If the fleet is in line ahead, for purposes of the better visibility of signals and of the enemy, I shall hoist the flag 2 or 3 (see Secret Order No. 13) in accordance with which the ships may keep to starboard or to port of the line according to the circumstances of the case, and form a slight curve. This will allow the vessels in the rear to close in towards the enemy, for each will then be able to press on closer to her next ahead. (Fig. 3.)

15. If it is required to turn together towards the side opposite the bend of the tail, I shall probably hoist the signal "Line ahead," in order that the move may be carried out correctly, but if this signal is not made, care must be taken not to collide during the turn.

16. In case of a turn of 16 points together, the rear ship will become the leading ship, and will have the right to lead the line, and therefore she may not turn the entire 16 points, but select a direction as most convenient for fighting. The remaining vessels will follow her in line. (Fig. 4.)

17. It may happen that I shall make the signal "Turn 16 points together," and name the battleships only; in this case the cruisers will continue on their previous course, and turn in succession so as to be in the rear of the line on the new course. (Fig. 5.)

18. When approaching the enemy I shall probably cross his head at an angle of 45 or 50 degrees. This will give a convenient flanking position, and the signal may be expected to follow, "Turn 16 points together," so that we may retain the advantages of a flanking position. (Fig. 6.)

19. If, after we have headed off the enemy's leading ship, she also should turn, and we should come on opposite courses, our advantages of the previous position will have passed away, and I shall probably then encircle his rear vessels. With this object it will be to our advantage to edge in towards the enemy, care being taken, however, to avoid a collision between our ships. It will then be absolutely necessary to reduce speed. I shall probably make the signal, "Edge to port." This will be very useful, for it will contract the ring. I shall increase to full speed with the leading ship, and the next in line will also increase speed, but will maintain a speed of one knot less than mine and so on. If we have practice in this maneuver the combination may turn out greatly to our advantage. (Fig. 7.)

20. If the enemy wishes to encircle our rear ship, which will be a cruiser, the latter must alter her course 45 degrees to the side opposite to the enemy and edge to starboard, and generally, when in this maneuver the leading ship edges to port, the rear ship will edge slightly to starboard.

21. It may occur that I shall accept action when retiring. We shall then have the advantage as regards torpedoes, and therefore, it will be necessary to make preparations for firing them.

22. In these conditions the firing (i.e. of torpedoes) will be carried out by the squadron, and not by individual ships, and, therefore, it will be allowable, after setting them for long range and reduced speed, to fire when the enemy's line is in torpedo range, which on account of his great speed may be considerable.

23. Bearing in mind that the main object of the cruisers is to bring the enemy between two fires, the commander of the division should watch closely the progress of my maneuvers and, when a favorable occasion presents itself, he may alter course and increase speed. The remaining cruisers will follow him, and in this case they will be guided by his signals, or will endeavor by edging slightly away from the line to carry out the main object of increasing the fire on the attacked portion of the enemy's squadron. This edging away must not, however, lead to confusion.

24. Should the cruisers see a torpedo attack being prepared against our battleships, they must, without waiting for a signal, rush to meet it, but not so as to interfere with the fire of the large ships; and then, approaching the torpedo craft-but not within torpedo range-they will bring them abaft the beam at the most convenient angle for the firing of light guns, and endeavor to destroy them with their fire. The best position for the cruisers in this case will be on the flank of the attacking flotilla.

25. The destroyers during action will remain in groups on the disengaged side of their own fleet, at a distance not greater than 20 cables, they will endeavor to take up such a position as will enable them to rush to the attack in good time.

26. When I find that the moment is at hand for a general attack by the destroyers, I shall hoist the flag signifying "Destroyers attack," and then both groups will at once rush to the attack, without considering whether this is advantageous or not.

27. The torpedo attack will be more successful when a portion of the enemy's light guns has been disabled. A favorable moment will also present itself if a vessel has her engines or steering gear disabled, and cannot refuse the attack. But a skilful torpedo may have a dominating effect upon the progress of an action, even at its earlier period, if two fleets are engaged and the smoke from the guns and machinery dims the horizon on the side opposite to the enemy, from which the attack may be carried out. In this connection a lee position for the destroyers is more convenient than a weather position, and I hope that the commanders of the groups, paying careful attention to the progress of the action with the object of attacking the enemy's ships when possible will not allow a convenient moment to pass.

28. In action, unless otherwise ordered, signals will not be repeated except by the repeating ship, except in the case of that ship having had her masts shot away, when the nearest ships will become repeating ships without waiting for my orders.

29. One signal-man must be specially told off to look out for floating torpedoes and report so that they may be avoided.

30. When a torpedo is seen near the course of a vessel the next astern will be informed by four short whistles.

31. As regards the nature of the projectiles to be used I may say that at ranges down to 25 cables it will be better to fire high explosive shell from all guns. At lesser ranges both armor-piercing and high explosive shell may be used, in the following succession:

10 and 12 inch - - - - 25 cables
8" - - - - 20 "
6" - - - - 15 "
4.7" - - - - 10 "

32. As regards heavy guns, they should be loaded as rapidly as possible so as to increase the rate of fire, but with smaller guns it must be remembered that rapid fire is allowed only when vessels close to sure range. In other cases the captain of the gun, or a man specially detailed, will follow the fall of his projectiles in order to correct the range in case of an "over" or "short." Nothing encourages the enemy so much as disorganized fire with systematic "shorts." It is better to fire more slowly but accurately.

33. The captains of ships must impress on the captains of guns that the defeat of the enemy is in their hands; let them forget themselves, concentrate all their attention on laying the guns, and use every endeavor to distinguish themselves and defeat the enemy.

34. As regards the control of fire the instructions attached herewith will be followed.*

35. The heavy guns should for preference be used against the battleships.

36. Should a torpedo attack be made by the enemy the 6-inch guns and below should be directed against him.

37. When the torpedo approach to 15 cables it will be necessary, without awaiting the signal of the Admiral, to put the helm over and bring them into the most convenient position astern, increasing speed to full.

38. When an enemy's destroyer approaches to torpedo range, she should be brought right astern, and the course of our ship should be altered so as to avoid the torpedo, the track of which should be watched.

39. If they attack on the side opposite to the enemy's fleet, the vessels' bows will be turned towards them and kept continuously in that direction.

40. A torpedo attack on the part of the enemy is an excellent moment for our destroyers to make a counter-attack, firing on the enemy's torpedo craft and attacking his ships.

41. As soon as the attack is finished, battleships and cruisers will at once take up station in line, observing the formation and numbering as far as possible.

42. It is possible that I shall not be flying the flag of the Commander-in-Chief, so that my ship may not be specially noticed.

43. In case I am put out of action, the Chief of Staff will relieve me until the end of the action; if my ship is disabled I shall transfer my flag.

44. Every arrangement must be made for alternative steering in case of accident to the helm.

45. Holes close to the water line or the main water-tight bulkheads must be stopped at once with wooden patches, using anything that there is to hand. It would be well to prepare material for this beforehand.

46. The wounded who are unable to remain in action will be sent to the dressing station. The dead will be laid aside where convenient.

47. Buckets of cold water are to be placed everywhere for drinking purposes; sand will be spread in places where it is slippery. I shall probably take with me a red Cross ship. Other vessels and torpedo craft will have no time during the action for saving lives.

48. Bags for receiving signal books, secret ciphers, orders, etc., are to be kept on the bridge or somewhere near, and are to be weighted with sand or stones; should there be any danger of these objects being captured by the enemy they are to be thrown overboard and sunk.

49. Victory means nothing less than the destruction of the enemy, and therefore beaten vessels should be fought to the end, sunk, or forced to surrender. Real trophies are ships captured or destroyed.

50. It is the duty of officers to direct the artillery and torpedo fire, but they must not forget to encourage the men. The men will see their own losses but not those of the enemy. It is necessary continually to remind them of the enemy's losses, so that they may feel that their artillery fire is producing havoc among the enemy's ships.

51. Messages should be sent from the bridge as frequently as possible to the battery, turret and engine room, giving news of every success, and this will be received in the batteries with cheers, but only for a moment; the cool work of accurate laying of guns will begin afresh.

52. However important it is to place the ships in convenient tactical positions as regards the enemy, the whole history of naval warfare shows us that successes in action depend mainly on the accuracy of artillery fire. Accurate fire is not only a sure means of inflicting defeat on the enemy, but the best protection from his fire.

53. The fleet in which the personnel retains its sangfroid will fire accurately and therefore infallibly defeat the enemy, even under disadvantageous tactical conditions.

54. Victory will be to the man that fights well without paying attention to his own losses and remembers that those of the enemy are still greater.

*No copy exist or has ever been released. Drawn up by the gunnery officer on the Staff of Admiral Makaroff, Lt. Myakishev.

Vice-Admiral S. Makaroff