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United States Department of State / Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States, with the annual message of the president transmitted to Congress December 5, 1905
(1905)

Great Britain,   pp. 473-504 PDF (11.8 MB)


Page 473

GREAT BRITAIN. 
REPORT OP THE INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OP INQUIRY INTO THE FIRING ON BRITISH
FISHING VESSELS BY RUSSIAN WAR VESSELS IN THE NORTH SEA. 
Ambassador Ohoate to the Secretary of State. 
No. 1539.] AMERICAN EMBASSY, 
      London, March 1, 1905. 
 Sin: I have the honor to inclose herewith as of interest two copies of a
parliamentary publication (Russia No. 3, 1905) containing the dispatch from
the British agent, forwarding the report of the commissioners in the International
Commission of Inquiry into the North Sea Incident. 
 I have, etc., JOSEPH H. CHOATE. 
{Inclosure.—Translation.j 
 Report of the commissioners, drawn up in accordance with article 6 of the
declaration of St. Petersburg of the 12th (25th) November, 1904.a 
 1. The commissioners, after a minute and prolonged examination of the whole
of the facts brought to their knowledge in regard to the incident submited
to them for inquiry by the declaration of St. Petersburg of the 12th (25th)
November, 1904, have proceeded to make in this report an analysis of these
facts in their logical sequence. 
 By making known the prevailing opinion of the commission on each important
or decisive point of this summary they consider that they have made sufficiently
clear the causes and the consequences of the incident in question, as well
as the deductions which are to be drawn from them with regard to the question
of responsibility. 
 2. The second Russian squadron of the Pacific fleet, under the command in
chief of ViceAdmiral Aid-dc-Camp General Rojdestvensky, anchored on 7th (20th)
October, 1904, off Cape Skagen, with the purpose of coaling before continuing
its voyage to the Far East. 
 It appears from the depositions made that from the time of the departure
of the squadron from the roads of Réval Admiral Rojdestvensky had
had extreme precautions taken by the vessels placed under his orders in order
that they might be fully prepared to meet a night attack by torpedo boats,
either at sea or at anchor. 
 These precautions seemed to be justified by the numerous reports received
from the agents of the Imperial Government on the subject of hostile attempts
to be feared, which in all likelihood would take the form of attacks by torpedo
boats. 
 Moreover, during his stay at Skagen Admiral Rojdestvensky had been warned
of the presence of suspect vessels on the coast of Norway. He had learned
also from the commander of the transport Ba/can coming from the north that
he had seen on the previous night four torpedo boats carrying a single light
only and that at the masthead. 
 This news made the admiral decide to start twenty-four hours earlier. 
 3. Consequently, each of the six distinct divisions of the fleet got under
way separately in its turn and reached the North Sea independently in the
order indicated by Admiral Rojdestvensky's report; that flag-officer commanding
in person the last division formed by the four new battle ships Prince Souvoroff,
Emperor Alexander III, Borodino, Orel, and the transport Anadyr. 
 This division left Skagen on the 7th (20th) October at 10 o'clock in the
evening. 
 A speed of 12 knots was ordered for the two first divisions and of 10 knots
for the following divisions. 
a Printed in Foreign Relations, 1904, p. 342. 
473 


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