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Alexey Petrovich Bogolyubov (16 March 1824 – 3 February 1896) Battle of Gangut (July 27, 1714) Oil on canvas, 1875-1877 186 x 321 cm Central Naval Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia
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Title: Battle of Gangut

Alexey Petrovich Bogolyubov (16 March 1824 – 3 February 1896)
Battle of Gangut (July 27, 1714)
Oil on canvas, 1875-1877
186 x 321 cm
Central Naval Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

Sketch: Battle of Gangut. Second moment. 1876

Sketch: Battle of Gangut(second moment of battle Russian galley fleet to ship the Swedish fleet in 1714 off Cape Gangut). 1876

Sketch: Battle of Gangut (third time). 1876


Battle of Gangut

The naval Battle of Gangut (Russian: Ãàíãóòñêîå ñðàæåíèå, Finnish: Riilahden taistelu, Finland Swedish:Slaget vid Rilax, Swedish: Sjöslaget vid Hangöudd) took place on July 27Jul./ August 7, 1714Greg. during the Great Northern War (1700–21), in the waters of Riilahti Bay, north of the Hanko Peninsula, near the site of the modern-day city of Hanko, Finland, between the Swedish Navy and Imperial Russian Navy. It was the first important victory of the Russian fleet in its history.


Name of the battle

The word Gangut in the name of the battle is a romanization of Ãàíãóò, which is the traditional Russian cyrillization of Hangöudd, the traditional Swedish name of the Hanko Peninsula. Seldom used names are Battle of Hangö  (Finnish Hanko) and Battle of Hangöudd (Finnish Hankoniemi). The battle took place in the Rilax bay north of the Hanko Peninsula. In Sweden and Finland, the battle is therefore known as the Battle of Rilax (Finnish Riilahti). It is also known in some sources as the battle of Ahvenanmaa, the Finnish name of the Åland Islands which Russia seized with its victory.



The Russian Tsar Peter I had begun his offensive in Finland in the spring of 1713. The Russian armies quickly advanced all the way to Turku on the southwestern coast of Finland, but naval advances had been blocked by a strong Swedish naval presence. The Russian governor in Finland, Prince Mikhail Galitzine, with his headquarters in Turku, was unable to receive support by sea, which was then far more important than land-based support. Admiral Apraksin's fleet was sent by the Tsar to open these service lines.

Arrival at Hanko

When the Russian ships arrived near the peninsula they were met by a strong Swedish naval fleet under the command of Admiral Wattrang. Apraksin decided to move his ships farther away to the other side of the peninsula and call for reinforcements. The majority of the troops in Turku were moved according to his request to the peninsula.

A plea for help was also sent to the Tsar, who was with the rest of the Baltic Fleet in Reval (now Tallinn). Admiral Apraksin specifically let the tsar know that he should come personally to lead the attack.

The breakthrough

The first attempt in breaking through the Swedish lines was made by attempting to pull the galleys over the peninsula. The friction was reduced using oxskins between the ground and the ships. The first galley was successfully pulled over with much trouble, but the second was damaged, and the attempt was subsequently abandoned. However, Admiral Wattrang had been informed of the Russians' attempt, and he sent a small naval detachment consisting of 11 ships led by Schoutbynacht (equivalent of a Rear Admiral) Nils Ehrenskiöld to intercept the Russians.

Ehrenskiölds detachment consisted of following ships:

Elefant, his flagship
Smaller vessels (skerry-boats)

The second attempt by the Russians was to try to take advantage of the calm weather on the morning of 26 July, the day of Saint Pantaleon. The small galleys were easily maneuvered, whereas it was exceedingly difficult to try to turn the heavy Swedish battleships in such a weather. Apraksin initially sent 20 small galleys and when it became obvious that the Swedish fleet couldn't stop them, he sent 15 more.

Wattrang's fleet was moving outwards trying to block the Russian breakthrough, when Apraksin issued an order at midnight 26/27 July for the remaining ships to break through the Swedish lines. Only one galley was lost when it ran aground.

The battle

After the breakthrough Ehrenskiöld's detachment became encircled, and he ordered his vessels in a defensive line between two islands. The largest Swedish ship, the pram Elefant, was positioned broadside-on to the approaching Russian vessels. Three galleys were stationed end-on on each side, with the two boats behind each end of Elefant.

After Ehrenskiöld refused to surrender, the Russian fleet attacked. The Russian galleys, commanded by the tsar, attacked twice (first with 35, second with 80 galleys) but were thrown back. The third time, when attacking with reinforcements and a combined force of about 95 galleys, the Russians managed to capture the Swedish ships. During the capture the galley Tranan capsized and sank, and admiral Ehrenskiöld himself was taken prisoner of war on the deck of his own flagship.

The Russians substantially outnumbered the Swedish, according to some sources 15 to one. The Russian superiority in the battle was such that there wasn't even enough room for all the Russian vessels to fight at once.


The battle was the first major victory of the Russian galley fleet, and can be as such compared with the Battle of Poltava. Due to the victory Russia was able to prevent Swedish ships from entering the waters east of the Sea of Åland and thus prolonging the occupation of Finland up to 1721, when the Treaty of Nystad ended the war.

The victory is even nowadays celebrated by the Russian Navy, which has a long tradition of always having one vessel named Gangut. The first series of Dreadnought battleships for the Imperial Navy was also named the Gangut class.

The first monument to commemorate the Russian Navy, a wooden cross, was erected on the site in 1869 by Rear Admiral Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The wooden cross was replaced by a more permanent stone cross in 1870 by the order of Tsar Alexander II.


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