Skampaveya, actress of the victory of Gangut (peninsula of Hangö) in 1714.


Peter I the Great, Tsar "of all Russias" in 1682 was an unusual character. Physically tall as much as by destiny, described by Voltaire as "excessive" in character as for his love of wine and women, and in this profoundly Slavic, he was robust, sometimes ruthless, but at the same time "modern" in the sense that he was one of the first Tsars to travel and to find abroad to inflame his compatriots. He travelld and worked notably as a simple naval carpenter in Holland in his Youth, learning shipbuilding trade. Founder of St. Petersburg, "Venice of the North" raised by sheer will from swamps and the sands of the Baltic, Peter also gave Russia its first real navy. His main opponent, Charles XII of Sweden, feared him rightly and when the war seemed inevitable, Petr Veliky had prepared for it. Knowing that the operations would take him to a part of the Baltic to the numerous islands and shoals, he chose rather than building classical tall ships like his opponent, to appeal to Italian builders, and quickly order a fleet of galleys.

But if Peter's Galley fleet was present when the first Baltic war began, he also mass-built a type of nimbler galley adopted so far by notables for their local riverine fleet. In addition to offering a lower cost and greater speed of construction, the Skampaveya, still very inspired by Mediterranean galleys by its Latin sails and general construction, was much smaller. Skampaveyas had a maximum of 15 rowing banks (up to 18), each oar manned by two rowers, that is to say 60 in all. Skampayevas were about 20 meters long, 4 meters wide. On board, armament comprised three light cannons of 6 and 10 pounds, the rifles of a small infantry company. But interest lied in its capacity to be deployed en masse and to hinder the adversary, as would torpedo boats will do in a more modern warfare, or the frail Lembi in the fleet of antiquity. But in this case, the victory was dearly paid: About forty of these small Skampaveyas were destroyed in order to capture or destroye a few Swedish ships, whose guns were too strong.