Dogger Bank incident

Dogger Bank incident

Russo Japanese War

Dogger Bank incident
The trawlers fired upon ©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1904 Oct 21

Dogger Bank incident

North Sea

The Dogger Bank incident occurred on the night of 21/22 October 1904, when the Baltic Fleet of the Imperial Russian Navy mistook a British trawler fleet from Kingston upon Hull in the Dogger Bank area of the North Sea for Imperial Japanese Navy torpedo boats and fired on them. Russian warships also fired on each other in the chaos of the melée. Two British fishermen died, six more were injured, one fishing vessel was sunk, and five more boats were damaged.


In the aftermath, some British newspapers called the Russian fleet 'pirates', and Admiral Rozhestvensky was heavily criticised for not leaving the British fishermen lifeboats. The Royal Navy prepared for war, with 28 battleships of the Home Fleet being ordered to raise steam and prepare for action, while British cruiser squadrons shadowed the Russian fleet as it made its way through the Bay of Biscay and down the coast of Portugal. Under diplomatic pressure, the Russian government agreed to investigate the incident, and Rozhestvensky was ordered to dock in Vigo, Spain, where he left behind those officers considered responsible (as well as at least one officer who had been critical of him). From Vigo, the main Russian fleet then approached Tangiers, Morocco, and lost contact with the Kamchatka for several days. The Kamchatka eventually rejoined the fleet and claimed that she had engaged three Japanese warships and fired over 300 shells. The ships she had actually fired at were a Swedish merchantman, a German trawler, and a French schooner. As the fleet left Tangiers, one ship accidentally severed the city's underwater telegraph cable with her anchor, preventing communications with Europe for four days.


Concerns that the draught of the newer battleships, which had proven to be considerably greater than designed, would prevent their passage through the Suez Canal caused the fleet to separate after leaving Tangiers on 3 November 1904. The newer battleships and a few cruisers proceeded around the Cape of Good Hope under command of Admiral Rozhestvensky while the older battleships and lighter cruisers made their way through the Suez Canal under the command of Admiral von Felkerzam. They planned to rendezvous in Madagascar, and both sections of the fleet successfully completed this part of the journey. The fleet then proceeded to the Sea of Japan.

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