Based in London; Formerly of New York, Buenos Aires, Fife, and the Western Cape. Saoránach d'Éirinn.
A writer, blogger, historian, and web designer born in New York, educated in Argentina, Scotland, and South Africa, and now based in London. read more

St. Nicholas of the Seven Seas

ONE OF OUR correspondents sends word that Russia is to name the fourth of her Borei-class ballistic missile submarines Николай Чудотворец, which is to say “Saint Nicholas”. The Borei-class vessels are the first series of Russian strategic submarines to be launched in the post-Soviet era. The previous subs in the class have been named the Yuri Dolgoruki (after Prince Yuri I, founder of Moscow), the Alexander Nevsky (after the Grand Prince of Vladimir & Novgorod venerated as a saint in the Eastern churches), and the Vladimir Monomakh (after the Grand Prince of Kievan Rus). The Saint Nicholas is of course not the first boat or ship to bear the name of New York’s patron saint. There was HMS St. Nicholas as well as a Spanish naval ship San Nicolas in the 1790s, eventually captured by the Royal Navy and commissioned as HMS San Nicolas. A Sealink (later Stena) ferry named St. Nicholas traversed the Harwich/Hook-of-Holland route from 1983 until it was renamed Stena Normandy in 1991 and transferred to the Southampton/Cherbourg route. Numerous merchant vessels took the saint’s name and patronage throughout the nineteenth century.

This post was published on Thursday, September 3rd, 2009 8:00 pm. It has been categorised under Military Russia Saints and been tagged under , , .
12 Sep 2009 9:27 pm

If my Russian is still up and standing (and that is quite some if) Чудотворец means, roughly, ‘wonder maker’ or, more properly in this context, ‘miracle maker’.

To entwine the name of St. Nicholas the Miracle Maker to a state of the (warfare) art nuclear-powered submarine bears some powerful (nuclear?) poetic justice. Or, perhaps, it is the most unfit name for a destruction machine.

I guess it depends if you regard the nuclear wonder as a either the hell-unleashing machine or, alternatively, the means to protect your nation it is. Quite some dilemma.

This question reminds me of some excerpt I read from the at times infamous Robert Fisk in his ‘Pity the Nation’ book.

I have always admired the epic survival of Christianity in the Middle East, and hence my interest in the quintessential Lebanon. At some point, Fisk was recounting -I seem to remember- an Israeli bombing of some of the Beirut PLO slums. He was dazzled by the contradiction of the beauty and precission of the F-17 wonder manoeuvering airborne apparently completely at odds with the chaos of dismembered limbs, smashed concrete and erupting fires on the ground it was creating.

This said, I still favour the naming conventions of the latter-day Russian Army. Their impressive intercontinental missile Тополь-М stands for “poplar” which is a really poetic name for a missile.

Dont you think?

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