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Ceremony honoring Russian cruiser Varyag and Korietz sailors held in Incheon

February 09, 2017, 8:23 UTC+3 INCHEON

The Varyag became a legend in Russia and many other countries during the Russian-Japanese war of 1904

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© Stanislav Varivoda/TASS

INCHEON /Republic of Korea/, February 9. /TASS/. A traditional ceremony marking the 113th anniversary since the naval battle between the Japanese and Russian naval forces in the Chemulpo Bay off the Korean shores was held in the Yellow Sea off Incheon on Thursday.

The ceremony was attended by Russian Ambassador in South Korea Alexander Timonin, officers of the military attache’s office, diplomats, students of the Russian embassy’s school, and South Korean navy officers.

A Korean corvette took the Russians to the place where the Russian cruiser Varyag and the gunboat Korietz had sunk.

"The heroic exploit of the Russian sailors will stay in our memory for ever. Today we lay flowers at the place where the ship, which has become a symbol of valor, selflessness and commitment to the military duty, sank," Timonin said, lowering a wreath into the sea to the sound of trumpets.

The Varyag became a legend in Russia and many other countries during the Russian-Japanese war of 1904, when it took part in the battle of Chemulpo on January 27, 1904, engaging in a heroic and uneven fight with a squadron of fifteen Japanese ships.

The battle lasted about an hour. The crew of the Varyag sent to the sea floor a Japanese destroyer and damaged severely two cruisers. The Varyag itself got five underwater scuttles and lost three guns. An officer and thirty sailors were killed and another six officers and 85 sailors were severely wounded or shell-shocked.

The Varyag was incapacitated at the end of the battle and it returned to the port of Chemulpo together with the Koreyets. The crews did not surrender to the Japanese - the Varyag was and sunk by its own crew on February 9, 1904. The Korietz was blown up.

A year later, the Japanese lifted it and put it back into service as their warship.

Russia purchased it back in 1916 and sent it for an overhaul to Britain, where it was arrested after the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. The British eventually sold the Varyag to Germany as scrap metal. In 1917, the cruiser was sent to England for an overhaul. In 1920, it ran into rocks while being towed to the junkyard and sank half a mile off South Scotland. In 1925, it was blown up to ensure the safety of navigation.

The Varyag relics were displayed in a museum in Korea. Several years ago, the Incheon city authorities transferred the Varyag's flag to Russia. The flag is now displayed at the Naval Museum in St Petersburg.

A monument to the Russian cruiser Varyag was built on Incheon's embankment in February 2004. It is made of garnet amphibole that is produced only in one place in Russia - Chupa on the Kola Peninsula. Laid in the base of the monument is a wooden cross that had been consecrated by Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia.

In 2011, the monument was moved several dozen metres to become the centrepiece of the embankment named after St. Petersburg.

Every year in February the Russian ambassador, the military attache, diplomats and pupils of the Embassy's school board the Republic of Korea's corvette to sail from the Navy base in Incheon to Chemuplo Bay where the ship stands still for several minutes to allow the Russian sailors to lower a wreath into the sea to the sound of the military trumpet in memory of the Varyag and Korietz crews.

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