The Lenox team made an early visit to the Tall Ships Festival in Greenwich. A special focus of the visit was the Russian frigate Shtandart moored at Woolwich Arsenal Pier, a modern replica of a ship built by Tsar Peter the Great and one of almost 50 sailing ships visiting Greenwich.
The original Shtandart was just over a third the size of the Lenox and was the first flagship of the Imperial Russian Navy, built by Dutch shipwright Vybe Aleksandr Menshikov under the direct supervision of the Tsar. It was in commission until 1727, when it was broken up following damage during a refit. The Empress of Russia, Catherine I, ordered a replacement to be built, but this was not realised until a group of sailing enthusiasts embarked upon a project in 1994.
The new Shtandart is a remarkable achievement, having been built without the benefit of surviving historical plans. The replica has furnishings and decorative carvings copied from the original ship, as well as working cannons, but she also meets modern safety standards, although accommodation for the crew is extremely tight, but not as cramped as it would have been in the original. The original crew numbered between 120 and 150, whilst the modern crew consists of 30 trainees and 10 officers.
Lenox Project director Julian Kingston and our architectural advisor David Graham secured a private visit to the ship on Friday morning before she opened to the public, and met with the captain, Vladimir Martus, whose expertise combines that of naval architect, master shipwright and builder of the ship. We were given a warm welcome, learning first-hand the full story behind her construction sixteen years ago, and were also able to give him a detailed summary of our plans for the Lenox.
Built in 1703, the Shtandart was a contemporary of the Lenox, which was built in 1678 but remained in commission until 1756. The connection goes much further, in that the Tsar learnt about the latest in shipbuilding technology at his visit to the Royal Dockyard at Deptford in 1698, where the Lenox was the first of thirty similar ships to be built, making the Shtandart one of the first Russian ships to benefit from his visit.
The Shtandart was constructed by a small team almost entirely by hand on wasteland outside St Petersburg. They were allowed to fell trees in the nearby forest that Peter the Great had planted for the construction of ships over 300 years previously. The only concession to modern technology was the occasional use of a chainsaw, and later her twin engines and navigation equipment. She has been successfully cruising northern waters since and regularly joins races and regattas, providing the young crew from St Petersburg with the unique experience of learning to sail a piece of history.
Vladimir gave Julian and David much in the way of useful advice and strongly supports what the Lenox team are trying to do. We aim to maintain links with the Shtandart project and one day may see her visiting Deptford alongside the Lenox. We extend our best wishes to the Captain and crew for fair winds and calm seas.