This is a family photo of a relative who might have been in the Imperial Russian Navy in 1915.man in sailor's uniform

  • Haven't found a Russian Navy pic of that era with a quick google, but that's clearly Cyrillic on the hat, and other than that it looks strikingly similar to this modern (UK) Royal Navy 1A uniform, right down to the 3 stripes on the inner collar.
    – T.E.D.
    May 15, 2023 at 23:28
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    Seems likely. The oval badge looks right, the writing is in Russian and seems to say "Ravelsky flot" when transliterated into our letters. "флот" ("flot", meaning "navy", cognate with our "fleet") has appeared on Russian sailor caps for a century or more. What I read as "Ravelsky" maybe refers to the place name Ravel, now known as Tallinn, which 100 years ago was a large Russian naval base. But don't actually know what IRN caps typically said: the name of a ship, of a subdivision of the fleet, or what. May 15, 2023 at 23:42
  • This is the correct uniform and style of cap. However, the fleet stationed in Tallinn would have been the Baltic Fleet; I can't find any reference to Ревельский Флот.
    – SPavel
    May 16, 2023 at 3:26
  • There was a Revalsk port and flotilla, although it is hard to gather any information about it. For example, in 1804 the Revalsk port/flotilla was under the command of Dmitry Senyavin. It's known that Tallinn was once known as Revalsk, and that the name appears to have changed in 1918, three years after this photo.
    – Smith
    May 16, 2023 at 3:39
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    Hmm, the ribbon might say Ревельский флотский полуэкипаж (the letter on the far right could be a П but it's hard to say). Though that name was changed in 1908.
    – SPavel
    May 16, 2023 at 3:46

1 Answer 1


Yes - this is a Russian Imperial naval uniform that was introduced during the 1890s. The lack of shoulder boards indicates a sailor - NCOs would have worn insignia.

одежду матроса составляет фланелевая синяя свободная рубаха, доходящая до пояса и опускающаяся вниз напуском; ворот рубахи вырезан спереди, спину прикрывает широкий воротник; под этой рубахой надевается форменная полотняная, такого же покроя, белого цвета с синим отложным воротником, выпускаемым поверх фланелевого; на тело надевалась тельная вязанная фуфайка, которая видна в открытый ворот рубах

The sailor's clothing consists of a loose blue flannel overshirt that hangs overlapping past the belt. The collar is open in the front and a wide collar covers the back. Underneath, a white linen shirt of the same cut with a turn-down collar worn over the flannel. Underneath is a knit sweatshirt, visible through the open collar.

The stripes on the collar and sweatshirt were introduced even earlier (1882 and 1874 respectively).

See this image from the Yaroslavl museum depicting a sailor of the Baltic Fleet Crew, taken in 1915.


In that era, the ribbon indicated which command the sailor belonged to. The last letter on the cap is hard to read but it's most likely a П - making the full text an abbreviation of Ревельский флотский полуэкипаж (Ravel naval half-crew), based in what is today Tallinn, Estonia.

detail of the cap

However, this formation was renamed to Ревельская флотская отдельная рота (Ravel fleet detached company) in 1908 during the naval reforms following the disastrous Russo-Japanese War, suggesting that either your photo is older than 1915 or the subject is dressed in a discontinued uniform, perhaps a keepsake. The Reval fleet half-crew existed under that name since at least in 1891 when Matvej Gerardi was assigned as its commanding officer (but likely existed under that name even before then) so it predates the uniform and doesn't narrow down the time window any further.

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