The Novik, a ’pioneer of a new type of fast ship’, was described in a 1900 article by The Engineer as an unusual ’destroyer-destroyer’ that would provide the Russian Navy with speed that it had been previously lacking.
’Russians are bad seagoing engineers, and never can get the speed out of their ships,’ said the article. ’The building of the Novik is due to the Grand Duke Alexander…It is not impossible that the imperial originator has grasped the bull by the horns, to the extent of realising that if Russia is to have 21-knot ships, they must build to a great deal higher speeds.’
The Novik was a German-designed enlarged destroyer built at the Schichau yard in Danzig. It served under the Imperial Russian Navy during the build up for war with Japan and could sail at 27 knots. At the time, it was considered to be an unusual member of the Russian fleet as the force was famous for its large, heavily armoured cruisers.
The article continued: ’If she is successful in her trials, the 27-knot cruiser must somehow be evolved. Fascinating, indeed, are the mental picture and speculations that this leads to, but for the present at least they may be left to the future.’
Russia later expanded the Novic class with its own copies at the Nyevsky Shipyard in St Petersburg. The lightweight design meant it was the only Russian vessel that could challenge the Japanese during a stealth attack on the first night of the Russian-Japanese War.
The original Novik was scuttled at Korsa Kovsk in Sakhalin after action with the light Japanese cruiser Tsushima on 20 August 1904. The Japanese, however, were amazed at Novik’s performance and opted to salvage it. The cruiser continued to serve for six years in the Japanese Navy under the name Suzuya.