The HMS Russell is 140 meters in length, 25 meters wide and 9 meters deep with a displacement of 14,000 tons. It carried four 12″ guns, twelve 6″ guns, twelve 3″ guns. Furthermore six pounder guns, 2 maxim guns, and 4 torpedo tubes. The ship lays now in 115 m depth.
The HMS Russell was launched in February 1901 as a Duncan Class Battleship. Easily distinguishable by the equally sized funnels, lower freeboard and lack of prominent ventilation cowls. Armour had to be sacrificed in order to increase speed whilst at the same time reducing size. With a speed of 19 knots, the ship was one of the fastest warship of the beginning of the 20th century.
The HMS Russell was commissioned in 1903. First joined the British Home Fleet from April 1906, but then was transferred to the Atlantic Fleet the next year. Then she returned to the UK in August of 1912 and in 1913 joined the 2nd fleet at Nore. She become the flagship with the grand fleet in 1914 with the 6th Battle Squadron before moving to the 3rd Battle Squadron to take part in northern patrols. The HMS Russell joined the Channel Fleet in November 1914. After bombarding German submarine bases in Belgium, was sent to the Dardanelles to assist the Gallipoli campaign. The ship stayed at Mudros as support alongside HMS Hibernia in November 1915 and took part in the evacuation from the peninsula on 7 January 1916.
Admiral Sydney Freemantle commanded the HMS Russell with Captain W. Bowden Smith on the ship’s final voyage. The ship arrived in Malta on the night of 26 April 1916. As Malta’s Grand Harbour was closed due to the boom defence, the ship had to wait until morning before entering. While outside the harbour, the HMS Russell struck a mine and became one of the first victims of German mine laying submarines. Specifically, the one of which, the U-73 had travelled from Kiel to Malta under the command of Commander Gustav Siess. On 23 April 1916, the U-73 had laid 22-36 mines in front of the Grand Harbour.
After the explosion, the HMS Russell floated for 20 minutes before capsizing, with her huge hull showing above the water. 126 sailors died and 625 were saved, including Admiral Freemantle and Captain Smith.