According to experts, when it was completed in 1902, the Cruiser Aurora was not remarkable for its combat effectiveness or nautical capabilities. In the best case, the ship could be considered an equal among equals. However, it is said that the naval fortune enjoyed by the first rank cruiser could be enough for an entire squadron. In its life, the ship survived several genuinely difficult voyages and travelled more than 120,000 nautical miles, which is more than five trips around the Earths equator. The Aurora survived friendly fire during the Dogger Bank incident and Japanese projectiles in the Battle of Tsushima. In the latter, despite having been damaged, the cruiser successfully evaded the attacks of torpedo boat destroyers. During World War I, the ship cruised along the Gulf of Bothnia, protecting the minesweeper fleet, studying channels, and providing gunfire support to land forces, successfully avoiding the attacks of enemy seaplanes. It survived three revolutions and the treacherous theft of its red revolutionary flag, which was stolen by the retired chair of the ship commission Korunov, who intended to sew it into a jacket
The cruisers service record also includes a terrorist attack in March 1918, when a time bomb was placed onboard. The hellish mechanism was diffused by Auroras senior officer Boris Frantsevich Vinter, keeping the ships after magazine from exploding and averting imminent ruin. Having had almost no time to become a revolutionary legend, in 1919, when Nikolai Yudenich was marching on Petrograd, the cruiser was once again a hairs breadth away from destruction. Preparations were being made to sink it in the Morskoi Kanal. The Aurora sailed out several times to the location where it was planned the ship would open its Kingston valves and block the channel for invading ships. But the deed was never completely done. The cruisers weapons were removed from and returned onboard the ship, and the sound of its 6-inch guns, set up on improvised floating batteries, echoed across the Volga near Tsaritsyn.
Following the end of the Civil War, it was suggested multiple times that the disarmed cruiser be broken down for scrap, but each time reasons were found to keep the ship afloat. Moored at the Kronstadt Naval Port, the Aurora sadly awaited its fate. However, fortune smiled on it once again. On 23 February 1923, the ship was put into service as a specialized training ship within the Baltic fleet, simultaneously becoming the first battle ready cruiser on the Soviet Baltic. Repaired and rearmed, it navigated around the Scandinavian Peninsula and then became a dumb training base for first year students of naval and submarine schools. On the eve of war, the Aurora was once again slated to be retired from the fleet, but fate had other plans for the ship once again. A war had begun...
The same story repeated once again: as Hitlers forces closed in on Leningrad, the guns aboard the cruiser, made part of Kronstadts air defence system, were gradually removed and transported to Duderhofs Battery A (which was almost completely destroyed by German fire in September 1941). The last gun taken off of the Aurora fired at the enemy off of the Baltiyets armoured train. The grounded ship continued to fight on land, sea, and by air. According to witnesses, during an air raid the Auroras anti-aircraft gunners took down an enemy plane. German planes and artillery bombed and fired at the cruiser up to the very end of the siege, landing several direct hits. But fate smiled upon the ship once again: it stood its ground and remained intact
In 1968, the cruiser received the Order of the October Revolution. And became the first in the history of the Soviet Navy to receive two Orders
After the war, the Aurora served as a museum and monument to the fleets history and as a training ship for the naval cadets of Leningrads Nakhimov Naval School. The cruiser was designated a branch of the Central Naval Museum and included on the list of protected state monuments. The ship faced major repairs, renovation, and the replacement of the underwater portions of the hull. In 2010, the Cruiser Aurora was retired from the naval fleet. It seemed like the legendary vessels fate was to age quietly and gradually be forgotten. Times had changed. However, in 2013, after an appeal by the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg to the Russian President to return the status of the Russian Navys flagship to the Aurora and preserve its naval crew, Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu announced that the cruiser Aurora will be repaired and recommissioned.
After successfully being repaired, in June 2016, the ship returned to its permanent mooring place. The stern of the renovated Aurora was decorated by an uncommon flag of honour, developed by the Heraldry Service of the Russian Armed Forces: the St Andrewss flag adorned with the Order of the Red Banner and the Order of the October Revolution, symbolizing an unbreakable tie between these ages. It would be curious to look back into the past and track the history of the unusually fortunate Aurora, starting from its early years as a first rank cruiser with three funnels and finally put to rest the arguments over the famous first shot and the underwater concrete postament...
These long years have notably reshaped that fleet of equals, leaving the Aurora to be the first among equals. And history, having for some reason favoured this revolutionary cruiser, has added its final touches to the picture by granting the Aurora the unique distinction of being the oldest national museum ship. By a strange twist of fate, this famous first rank ship remains afloat and is the official flagship of the Russian Navy. And isnt this series of events the best proof of the cruisers improbable fortune and luck?