Navarino, Battle of
NAVARINO, BATTLE OF
The Battle of Navarino on October 20, 1827, resulted from a joint Anglo-French-Russian effort to mediate the Greek–Ottoman civil war. The three countries decided to intervene in the increasingly brutal conflict, which had been raging since 1821, and on October 1, 1827, British vice admiral Edward Codrington took command of a combined naval force. Codrington ordered his squadron to proceed to Navarino Bay on the southwestern coast of the Peloponnese, where an Ottoman-Egyptian fleet of three ships of the line, twenty-three frigates, forty-two corvettes, fifteen brigs, and fifty transports under the overall command of Ibrahim Pasha was moored.
Before entering the bay, the allied commanders sent Ibrahim an ultimatum demanding that he cease all operations against the Greeks. Ibrahim was absent, but his officers refused, and they opened fire when the allies sailed into the bay on the morning of October 20. In the intense fighting that ensued, the Azov, the Russian flagship, was at one point engaged simultaneously by five enemy vessels. Commanded by Mikhail Petrovich Lazarev, the Azov sank two frigates and damaged a corvette. The battle was over within four hours. The Ottoman-Egyptian fleet lost all three ships of the line along with twenty-two frigates and seven thousand sailors. Only one battered frigate and fifteen small cruisers survived. The Russian squadron left fifty-nine dead and 139 wounded.
In the aftermath, the recriminations began almost immediately. The duke of Wellington, Britain's prime minister, denounced Codrington's decision to take action as an "untoward event." From the British standpoint, the annihilation of the Turkish-Egyptian fleet was problematic, because it strengthened Russia's position in the Mediterranean. Shortly after the battle Codrington was recalled to London. Tsar Nicholas I awarded the Cross of St. George to Vice Admiral L. P. Geiden, the commander of the Russian squadron, and promoted Lazarev to rear admiral. The Azov was granted the Ensign of St. George, which in accordance with tradition would be handed down, over the generations, to other vessels bearing the same name. The Russian squadron recovered from the battle and repaired its ships at Malta. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1828 to 1829, Geiden took command of Rear Admiral Peter Rikord's squadron from Kronstadt. The Russian fleet now numbered eight ships of the line, seven frigates, one corvette, and six brigs. Geiden and Rikord blockaded the Dardanelles and impeded Ottoman-Egyptian operations against the Greeks. After the war's end, Geiden's squadron returned to the Baltic.
See also: greece, relations with; russo-turkish wars
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John C. K. Daly