Battleship Novorossiysk was a 24,000 ton battleship that served as the flagship of the Soviet Union’s Black Sea Fleet until 1955. In 1955, it exploded and sank in the greatest peacetime naval disaster of the 20th century.
The ship was originally built for the Italian fleet and launched in 1911 as the Giulio Cesare. It was a dreadnought-type battleship with twelve 12 inch guns. With the dismantling of the Italian navy at the end of World War II, the ship was transferred into Soviet hands in 1949. On October 29, 1955, it exploded in Sevastopol harbor, with the loss of 608 lives. The cause of the sinking has never been determined. Some suspected sabotage by Italian commandos, while others theorized that a German naval mine, laid during the war, sunk the ship. The disaster resulted in the demotion of Fleet Admiral Nikolai Kuznetsov and his replacement by Sergei Gorshkov, who became known as the father of the modern Soviet Navy.