"I am only an old man of sixty, whose life is of trifling importance, but you are still young and charged with the duty of restoring the fame of the Russian Navy. I accept the entire responsibility for this surrender."

Rear Admiral Nebogatov

Southwest of Liancourt Rocks (Takeshima), 28 May 1905, 1015 hrs.

The night attacks inflicted the severest strain on the Russian crews in the ships that escaped being sunk. The gunners in the Russian Fleet had in most cases been at their guns for twenty-four hours, and for about six hours had been engaged in one of the fiercest naval battles in history.

Admiral Togo on the other hand was able to rest the crews of his heavy ships as they steamed north at 15 knots toward the fleet rendezvous just north of Matsushima.

Togo steamed all night till he was about 30 miles southeast of Matsushima at daybreak. No Russian ships had been sighted, but almost at once, he received a wireless report from the Sixth Division that a group of Russian vessels had been discovered almost sixty miles further to the south, going north.

The final moment was near.

Rear Admiral Nebogatov accepted the situation for what it was. There was considerable doubt that his sluggish hulks could have escaped from Togo's rapidly approaching forces. So he did not even try.

At dawn with a clear sky and a calm sea he headed straight for Vladivostok. For an hour the ocean seemed free of enemies.

The joy and hope were short lived. Early in the morning some of Togo's cruisers had sighted the Russian squadron and soon the net was being drawn tightly around them. The cruiser divisions of Kataoka, Uriu and the younger Togo shadowed them as Togo and Kamimura steamed hard to close for the kill.

The Izumrud requested to be released, as the squadron was forcing her to sail at their slower speed. Nebogatov hoisted the negative in answer to her request to make a solo dash for Vladivostok.

The reinforcement squadron was not much worse physically than when they left the Baltic against Nebogatov's own counsel, but that was bad enough, and now their untrained, and unfit crews were exhausted from the ordeal they had already undergone.

The Orel's captain lay dying of his wounds and there were other important casualties. The ship had been badly damaged in the previous days fighting and only three of the four 12 inch guns still remained in operation.

Admiral Togo closed till he was within range of his heavy guns but still outside the range of the best Russian weapon. At about ten thousand yards Kasuga opened fire on the Russian flagship. The first shot was over, the second short, and the third on target plunging through the forward funnel of Nikolai I.

Plainly the game was up. Nebogatov's guns could not reach his assailants. His inferior speed prevented him from closing the range as well as attempting to escape.

A decision of soul searing intensity had to be made. Should he have his batteries fire uselessly at the enemy until his ships and their crews were blown up and sunk like so many of the others of this luckless squadron? Should he order the sea-cocks to be opened? Or should he strike the colors?

Rozhdestvenski's battle orders covered this contingency explicitly: "In case of being surrounded by superior enemy forces and unavoidable disaster seems certain" the ship in question was to be sunk by her crew to avoid capture. Nebogatov estimated that with most of his boats damaged or destroyed that three quarters of his 2000 men would drown were he to scuttle his ships. He could not order such a meaningless sacrifice of the lives of his men.

Nebogatov ordered XGH, the international signal for surrender, to be hoisted on the yardarm. At first the Japanese were astounded, but when Admiral Togo was satisfied that no trick was being attempted, he order his fleet to cease firing and dispatched a detail of officers and men to transfer prisoners and take over the prizes.

Izumrud, which had been ordered to keep station after requesting that she be allowed to use her superior speed in order to escape, used this lull to make a dash for Vladivostok. She escaped the Japanese cordon only to be wrecked in a dense fog outside Vladimir Bay.