History of the original frigate Shtandart
Tsar Peter the Great had a vision for Russia to nurture closer economic and cultural ties to Europe. He wanted to build trade connections over the Baltic Sea and needed a new navy to protect the trade routes.
To establish international partnerships and gain expertise in contemporary shipbuilding and other industries, Peter the Great launched The Grand Embassy in 1697. Tsar Peter and young Russian specialists studied in Holland and England for a whole year, learning the best shipbuilding techniques from both countries. Apart from bringing back technologies and innovations, Peter also hired 500 experts to come back to Russia with him.
The building of modern ships for the Baltic Fleet began in 1702-1703 under the personal supervision of the Tsar and using the most state-of-the-art technologies. The first ship to be launched was the 28-gun frigate Shtandart – the flagship of the new Baltic Fleet. The Shtandart was beautifully decorated and was an interesting example of combining Dutch and English shipbuilding styles.
The Shtandart served in the Baltic for 16 years before being decommissioned in 1719. Tsar Peter decreed the frigate to be preserved forever as the first ship of the Russian Navy and a monument to the art of shipbuilding. Sadly, the preservation did not work, and the frigate deteriorated beyond repair. The old Shtandart was taken apart with a decree from Empress Catherine: “In honor of the name given by His Majesty Tsar Peter, the new Shtandart is to be built”. However, it was not until the late 20th century that this decree was fulfilled…
The Replica Story
It started with a man and a dream and ended up proving that nothing is impossible. The man was Vladimir Martus, and he dreamed of building the beautiful flagship again – and not just as a stationary museum but as a fully functional vessel.
In 1988, historian Viktor Krainukov was commissioned by the State Hermitage Museum to undertake the 3-year task of collecting all the available information and recreating the appearance of the original Shtandart. These historical technical drawings were used to produce the designs for the ship, but there were considerable changes to be made: the new Shtandart was to become a fully operational tall ship, so it had to meet all the modern-day safety and comfort criteria. The historical part above the gun deck was to be recreated as close to the original as possible, and the hold was re-fitted to provide modern accommodations and machinery.
To gain experience in historical shipbuilding and gather an enthusiastic team, Martus built a shooner St. Peter, that later starred in the Pirates of the Caribbean. Selling the St. Peter also provided initial funds for building the Shtandart.
The keel of the new Shtandart was laid in 1994. The improvised shipyard on the bank of the Neva River attracted a lot of young people eager to learn the forgotten craft and then sail the ship they built themselves. Fuelled by the enthusiasm of the builders, the project gained momentum and later attracted local and international sponsors, including the embassies of the Netherlands and Britain.
The building of the Shtandart took just under six years. During this time, the young romantics grew into knowledgeable specialists, professionals, and talented craftsmen. the Shtandart was launched on September 4th, 1999. Around 40 000 spectators were present at a celebration as the frigate touched water for the first time.
In June 2000 the new Shtandart set sail for the first time. This journey followed the route of The Grand Embassy of Peter the Great, visiting the countries, cities, and towns where, more than 300 years ago, young Peter learned the art of shipbuilding.
Following the dreams of Peter the Great, the Shtandart fosters connections between cultures, teaches trainees from all over Europe the art of traditional sailing, and inspires the youth to dream big and make their dreams come true.