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NMS Amiral Murgescu was a minelayer and convoy escort of the Romanian Navy, the first sea-going warship built in Romania and the largest Romanian-built warship of World War II. She laid numerous minefields, from the Bulgarian port of Burgas to the Crimean port of Sevastopol, which inflicted significant losses to the Soviet Black Sea Fleet. She also carried out numerous convoy escort missions and took part in the Axis evacuation of the Crimea in May 1944. Due to her success in combat, she was decorated twice by May 1944. She was captured by the Soviet Union in September 1944 and served until 1988, when she was scrapped.

Amiral Murgescu (side).jpg
Amiral Murgescu at sea
History
Romania
Name: Amiral Murgescu
Namesake: Admiral Ioan Murgescu (ro)
Builder: Galați shipyard, Romania
Laid down: 1 August 1938
Launched: 14 June 1939
Commissioned: June 1941 or earlier
Captured: By the Soviet Union, 1944
Soviet Union
Name: Don
Namesake: River Don
Acquired: 1944
Commissioned: 1944
Struck: 27 May 1988
Fate: Sold for scrap, 4 July 1988
Service record
Commanders:
  • Alexandru Dumbravă (1941–1942)
  • Ovidiu Mărgineanu (1942–1943)
  • Gheorghe Harting (1943)
  • Anton Foca (1943–1944)
Operations:
Victories:
  • 1 cruiser damaged
  • 1 destroyer leader, 1 R-boat, 1 S-boat, 2 motor gunboats and up to 12 submarines sunk
  • 12 aircraft destroyed
Awards:
General characteristics
Type: Minelayer/Escort vessel
Displacement:
  • 812 tons (standard)
  • 1,068 tons (full load)
Length: 76.8 m (252 ft 0 in)
Beam: 8.84 m (29 ft 0 in)
Draught: 2.43 m (8 ft 0 in)
Propulsion: 2 Krupp diesel engines 1,600 kW (2,200 hp), 2 shafts
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)
Range: 3,400 nautical miles (6,300 km; 3,900 mi)
Complement: 135
Armament:
Armour: Gun shields: 20 mm

Contents

DescriptionEdit

 
Diagram of Amiral Murgescu (note the gun shields which were removed after her first weeks of service)

Amiral Murgescu was laid down on 1 August 1938 and launched on 14 June 1939.[1] Her full-load displacement amounted to 1,068 tons while her standard displacement was of 812 tons.[2] She measured 76.8 meters in length, with a beam of 8.84 meters and a draught of 2.43 meters. Initially, she was armed with two 102 mm Bofors dual-purpose naval/AA guns, two Rheinmetall 37 mm guns, two Oerlikon 20 mm guns and two Lewis guns. She was also fitted with two depth charge throwers and could carry 135 mines.[3][4] Her two main guns were initially protected by gun shields, similar to the French minelayer Pluton, however these were removed in July 1941 in order to facilitate anti-aircraft fire.[5] Amiral Murgescu had a crew of up to 135 and was powered by two Krupp diesel engines generating 1,100 horse power each, giving her a top speed of 16 knots and a range of 3,400 nautical miles.[6] In late March 1944, she equipped an additional battery of 37 mm anti-aircraft guns.[7] By May 1944, she was also fitted with 40 mm anti-aircraft guns, although it is not known how many.[8]

ServiceEdit

 
Amiral Murgescu (front view)
 
Amiral Murgescu loaded with mines and ready to depart, Constanța, October 1941

She had four captains across the war: Alexandru Dumbravă (1941–1942), Ovidiu Mărgineanu (1942–1943), Gheorghe Harting (1943) and Anton Foca (1943–1944).[9]

Her first mission was between 16 and 19 June 1941, when she and two other Romanian minelayers, Regele Carol I and Aurora, laid a barrage of 1,000 mines between Cape Midia and Tuzla, to protect the main Romanian port of Constanța. When the Soviet Black Sea Fleet attacked the port on 26 June, she helped repel the attack, together with the flotilla leader Mărăști and the destroyer Regina Maria and the German coastal battery Tirpitz. The Soviet destroyer leader Moskva was sunk by Romanian mines and the cruiser Voroshilov was damaged. Amiral Murgescu also shot down two Soviet aircraft on that same day.[10][11] Later, the Soviet submarine Shch-213 and 3 more Soviet submarines (M-58, M-34 and Shch-208) were sunk by Romanian mines near Constanța.[12] The German R-boat R-36 was also sunk by Romanian mines near Constanța in 1943.[13]

During a Soviet air raid on 23 June 1941, two of her crewmen were wounded. On a subsequent raid which took place the following day, she shot down two Soviet aircraft, her first aerial kills.[14]

During a Soviet air attack on Constanța on 5 August, she shot down three more aircraft.[15] In total, she shot down 12 Soviet aircraft throughout the war.[16]

Her next mission was between 7 and 16 October 1941. Together with the Romanian minelayers Regele Carol I and Dacia and escorted by the Romanian 250t-class torpedo boats Năluca, Sborul and Smeul, Romanian gunboats Sublocotenent Ghiculescu and Căpitan Dumitrescu and Bulgarian torpedo boats Drazki, Smeli and Hrabri, she laid four full minefields and one partial minefield along the Bulgarian coast.[17] These mines later sank 4 Soviet submarines (S-34, L-24, Shch-210 and Shch-211).[18]

In February 1942, she participated in a minelaying operation near Sulina, at the mouth of the Danube.[19]

On 24 June 1942, she laid mines near Odessa along with Dacia, while being escorted by the Romanian destroyers Regele Ferdinand and Regina Maria, the flotilla leader Mărășești, the Romanian gunboats Ghiculescu, Stihi and Dumitrescu and the Romanian torpedo boat Smeul as well as motor minesweepers of the Donau Flotilla.[20] The mines laid near Odessa later sank the Soviet submarines M-33 and M-60[21] and the motor gunboats YA-26 and YA-27.[22][23]

On 29–30 October and 5 November 1942, she along with Dacia and the Romanian destroyers Regina Maria and Regele Ferdinand, the Romanian leader Mărăști, the Romanian gunboat Stihi and four German R-boats laid two mine barrages to protect Snake Island.[24] These mines sank the Soviet submarine Shch-212 on 11 December that same year.[25][26][27] The Soviet submarine M-31 was either sunk as well by the Romanian mine barrages near the island on 17 December,[28][29] or sunk with depth charges by the Romanian leader Mărășești on 7 July 1943.[30] On 1 December 1942, while the Soviet cruiser Voroshilov together with the destroyer Soobrazitelny were bombarding the island with forty-six 180 mm and fifty-seven 100 mm shells, the cruiser was damaged by Romanian mines, but she managed to return to Poti for repairs under her own power. During the brief bombardment, she struck the radio station, barracks and lighthouse on the island, but failed to inflict significant losses.[31][32][33][34][35]

On the night of 13-14 September 1943, Amiral Murgescu, escorted by two Romanian destroyers, laid mines off Sevastopol.[36] On 15 September, she along with two German auxiliary minelayers, escorted by six R-boats and the German armed ship Xanten, laid a barrage of mines that closed the mouth of the Gulf of Kherson.[37]

When not used as minelayer, Amiral Murgescu was employed as a convoy escort.[38] Due to this, as well as her characteristics, she represented the Romanian version of the American destroyer escorts or the Japanese Kaibokan.

As convoy escort, she participated in a total of 16 escort missions, mainly between Constanța and Sevastopol, between November 1942 and September 1943. One of these missions, on 19-20 July 1943, was carried out solely by her.[39] On 15 April 1944, a convoy she was escorting during the evacuation of the Crimea was attacked five times by Soviet bombers. She shot down two of them, but one of her 102 mm guns and one 20 mm gun were damaged.[40][41]

On 12 May 1944, she was the last Romanian warship to leave Crimea during the evacuation of the peninsula by the Axis. Commanded by Lieutenant Commander Anton Foca, she evacuated about 1,000 troops, including the highly decorated German General Walter Hartmann.[42]

On 25–26 May, she and Dacia, escorted by the destroyer Regina Maria, the leader Mărășești, the torpedo boats Sborul and Smeul and the motor torpedo boats Vedenia and Viscolul, laid another barrage of mines off Sulina to reinforce the existing one.[43] The mines laid off Sulina sank the German S-boat S-148 on 22 August 1944.[44]

On 29 May 1944, she was decorated with the Order of the Star of Romania. She was also decorated with the Order of the Romanian Crown.[45][46]

After the 23 August 1944 coup, she was captured by Soviet forces and commissioned as Don.[47] She was converted to training ship on 2 April 1945, to depot ship on 18 January 1947, to command ship on 9 February 1948, to disarmed barracks ship on 7 May 1956 (renamed PKZ-107) and finally to repair ship on 4 January 1958 (renamed PM-76, PMR-76 from 8 June 1966), being finally deleted on 27 May 1988 and sold for scrap on 4 July 1988.[48]

Sister shipEdit

Amiral Murgescu had one sister ship, Cetatea Albă. She was laid down at Galați in 1939 and launched in 1940, however she was never completed.[49][50]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Robert Gardiner, Warship 1991, Conway Maritime Press, 1991, p. 147
  2. ^ The Shipbuilder and Marine Engine-builder, Volume 46, Shipbuilder Press, 1939, p. 449
  3. ^ Robert Gardiner, Warship 1991, Conway Maritime Press, 1991, p. 147
  4. ^ Frederick Thomas Jane, Jane's Fighting Ships, 1944-1945, David & Charles Reprints, 1944
  5. ^ Antony Preston, Warship 2001–2002, p. 72
  6. ^ Robert Gardiner, Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946, Naval Institute Press, 1980, p. 362
  7. ^ Jipa Rotaru, Ioan Damaschin, Glorie și dramă: Marina Regală Română, 1940–1945 (in Romanian), p. 105
  8. ^ Robert Forczyk, Where the Iron Crosses Grow: The Crimea 1941–44, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014, Chapter 9
  9. ^ Constantin Cumpănă, Corina Apostoleanu, Amintiri despre o flota pierduta – vol. II – Voiaje neterminate, 2011, Telegraf Advertising
  10. ^ Jonathan Trigg, Death on the Don: The Destruction of Germany's Allies on the Eastern Front, Chapter 3
  11. ^ Antony Preston, Warship 2001–2002, pp. 70 and 71
  12. ^ Mikhail Monakov, Jurgen Rohwer, Stalin's Ocean-going Fleet: Soviet Naval Strategy and Shipbuilding Programs 1935–1953, pp. 265–266
  13. ^ Gordon Smith, Don Kindell, Donald A. Bertke, World War II Sea War, Vol 9: Wolfpacks Muzzled, p. 203
  14. ^ Jipa Rotaru, Ioan Damaschin, Glorie și dramă: Marina Regală Română, 1940–1945, Ion Cristoiu Publishing, 2000, pp. 45–46
  15. ^ Antony Preston, Warship 2001–2002, p. 72
  16. ^ Amiral Murgescu (in Romanian)
  17. ^ Donald A Bertke, Gordon Smith, Don Kindell, World War II Sea War, Volume 4: Germany Sends Russia to the Allies, p. 323
  18. ^ Mikhail Monakov, Jurgen Rohwer, Stalin's Ocean-going Fleet: Soviet Naval Strategy and Shipbuilding Programs 1935–1953, pp. 265–266
  19. ^ Antony Preston, Warship 2001–2002, p. 76
  20. ^ Donald A. Bertke, Gordon Smith, Don Kindell World War II Sea War, Volume 6: The Allies Halt the Axis Advance, p. 268
  21. ^ Mikhail Monakov, Jurgen Rohwer, Stalin's Ocean-going Fleet: Soviet Naval Strategy and Shipbuilding Programs 1935–1953, p. 266
  22. ^ Nicolae Koslinski, Raymond Stănescu, Marina română in al doilea război mondial: 1944–1945, p. 365 (in Romanian)
  23. ^ Navypedia:Ya-5 and Ya-5M types motor mortar boats (1942–1945)
  24. ^ Nicolae Koslinski, Raymond Stănescu, Marina română in al doilea război mondial: 1942–1944, pp. 53–54 (in Romanian)
  25. ^ Donald A Bertke, Gordon Smith, Don Kindell,World War II Sea War, Vol 8: Guadalcanal Secured, p. 77
  26. ^ Shch-212 on uboat.net
  27. ^ Shch-212 on wrecksite.eu
  28. ^ Gogin, Ivan. ""Series XII" submarines (project 40) (1937–1943)". Navypedia. Retrieved 20 August 2017. 
  29. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "M-31". uboat.net. Retrieved 20 August 2017. 
  30. ^ M. J. Whitley, Destroyers of World War Two, p. 224
  31. ^ Jipa Rotaru, Ioan Damaschin, Glorie și dramă: Marina Regală Română, 1940–1945, Ion Cristoiu Publishing, 2000, pp. 93–94
  32. ^ Timothy C. Dowling, Russia at War: From the Mongol Conquest to Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Beyond, p. 128
  33. ^ Spencer C. Tucker, World War II at Sea: An Encyclopedia,. p. 114
  34. ^ Nicolae Koslinski, Raymond Stănescu, Marina română in al doilea război mondial: 1942–1944, p. 56 (in Romanian)
  35. ^ Yakubov, Vladimir; Worth, Richard (2009). The Soviet Light Cruisers of the Kirov Class. In Jordan, John. Warship 2009, p. 92
  36. ^ Antony Preston, Warship 2001–2002, p. 81
  37. ^ Jipa Rotaru, Ioan Damaschin, Glorie și dramă: Marina Regală Română, 1940–1945, Ion Cristoiu Publishing, 2000, p. 120
  38. ^ Antony Preston, Warship 2001–2002, p. 80
  39. ^ Jipa Rotaru, Ioan Damaschin, Glorie și dramă: Marina Regală Română, 1940-1945, Ion Cristoiu Publishing, 2000, pp. 267-272
  40. ^ Nicolae Koslinski, Raymond Stănescu, Marina română in al doilea război mondial: 1942–1944 (in Romanian)
  41. ^ Jipa Rotaru, Ioan Damaschin, Glorie și dramă: Marina Regală Română, 1940–1945 (in Romanian), p. 138
  42. ^ Robert Forczyk, Where the Iron Crosses Grow: The Crimea 1941–44, Chapter 9
  43. ^ Antony Preston, Warship 2001–2002, Conway Maritime Press, 2001, p. 84
  44. ^ Lawrence Paterson, Schnellboote: A Complete Operational History, p. 261
  45. ^ Amiral Murgescu (in Romanian)
  46. ^ Constantin Cumpănă, Corina Apostoleanu, Amintiri despre o flota pierduta – vol. II – Voiaje neterminate, 2011, Telegraf Advertising
  47. ^ Mikhail Monakov, Jurgen Rohwer, Stalin's Ocean-going Fleet: Soviet Naval Strategy and Shipbuilding Programs 1935–1953, p. 167
  48. ^ Navypedia: DON minelayer (1941/1944)
  49. ^ AMIRAL Navypedia: MURGESCU minelayers (1941)
  50. ^ Frederick Thomas Jane, The World's Warships, S. Low, Marston, 1948, p. 86