Russian ambassador donates first model ship for Seychelles’ National Maritime Museum
The first model ship that will be displayed in the Seychelles’ National Maritime Museum was donated by the resident Russian ambassador on Monday.
The maquette of the Russian protected cruiser, Varyag, was presented to the secretary general of the Seychelles National Institute of Culture, David Andre, by Ambassador Artem Kozhin at the Seychelles National History Museum.
Andre told the press that the donation is a really interesting and symbolic gesture in that this battleship came to Seychelles in the early 1900s.
“It was basically one of the first connections between Russia and Seychelles. Its history is one that is really fascinating and it shows that since those times how the connection between Russia and Seychelles has been. What is even more interesting is that this is the first donation received by Seychelles that will go into the maritime museum that we are planning to create in Seychelles,” said Andre.
“I do hope that we will get other donations and artifacts which will relate directly to the National Maritime History Museum. This is a symbolic and important moment. People will know more about what happened in the Indian Ocean region and our maritime history, especially between Russia and Seychelles, as the story that goes with the vessel is also quite fascinating,” he continued.
While plans are still being finalised as to where the maritime museum will be based in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, the model of ‘Varyag’ can be viewed on display at the National History Museum.
Talking to the small crowd present, which included Seychelles’ President Wavel Ramkalawan, the Russian Ambassador traced the history of ‘Varyag’.
He outlined that the story and glory of the navy ship, considered to be the soul of the Russian Navy, dates back to 1904.
“In the very beginning of the Russo-Japanese war, the Russian protected cruiser ‘Varyag’ was blocked by 14 Japanese battleships at the bay of Chemulpo in Korea. With no chances of winning the battle, the crew decided to fight. After a bloody encounter, the crew decided to sink the ship for it not to fall into the hand of the enemy. Fortunately, a significant part of the crew survived using lifejackets, and upon their return to Russian they were met as national heroes,” explained Kozhin.
“Even the enemies were so impressed by such bravery and readiness for self-sacrifice that ‘Varyag’ has become an example for Japanese Naval cadets of how to defend the flag of the fatherland,” he continued.
He said that Varyag was later raised by the Japanese and returned to Russia. In 1916 during World War I, it was decided that the ship was to be transferred to defend the Northern Shores of Russia from the German Navy.
“The ship, accompanied by other battleships, began the very long journey from Vladivostok to the Russian Arctic. It was an extremely tough journey in the midst of the war but still, the ship made it to the Arctic making a historical stopover in Victoria, en route. Onboard the vessel was an artillery officer who, after retirement, wrote a book on this voyage, and several chapters are dedicated to Seychelles during the stage of the crew on the ship in Victoria,” said Kozhin.
The Russian ambassador said that it is interesting to read about the life in Seychelles in 1916 through the eyes of Russian Sailors.
“Personally, I came across very interesting facts for example there was a radio station in Victoria which would get signals transmitted from Paris. The author used an automobile to get around Mahe so cars were here much earlier than I thought of,” he continued.