In 1903 a large ocean going tugboat named the SS Roland was laid down at the yard of Schomer and Jensen in Germany. The tug was 168-feet 6-inches (51.4m) in
length and 30feet (9.1m)  in beam with a displacement of 611-tons. She was powered by two 3-cylinder triple expansion engines producing 1,500 ihp with coal fired
boilers and had the top speed of 10-knots. At the time the
SS Roland was the largest and best ocean capable tugboat in Europe and was designed for voyages across
the Atlantic Ocean. The tug was operated by Vereinigte Bugsir & Frachtschifffahrt Ges in 1903 and 1904 but fate changed for the tugboat in 1904.
With the start of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, the Russian Admiralty immediately started on a relief expedition for the besieged Port Arthur, Russia’s main naval
base in the Pacific. The best warships formed the 2nd Pacific Squadron and came from the Baltic Sea. During the voyage east the 2nd Pacific Squadron was joined by
the 3rd Pacific Squadron, which was formed of ships from the Black Sea. The Russian Admiralty looked about for warships and auxiliaries to supplement the 2nd
Pacific Squadron and the
SS Roland was available. The idea of acquiring a large ocean going tugboat to accompany the force sounded like a good idea, so the SS
was purchased by the Russian Navy and became the Rus. In addition to Rus, the Russian Squadron had a second tugboat traveling with the squadron., the
Svir among the numerous gaggle of auxiliaries. Another auxiliary that was with the 2nd Pacific Squadron would play a prominent role in the fate of the Rus. This was
the 12,000-ton cargo ship/collier,
Anadyr. The Anadyr was a problem during the whole voyage across the globe. At Tangier she hung up her anchor on the telegraph
cable from North Africa to Europe and was told by Admiral Rozhestvensky to cut the cable, ending all communications between North Africa and Europe.  
Rus served
in numerous ways in the voyage to the East. As the Squadron rounded the bulge of Africa, their next stop for coaling was to be the mouth of the Gabon River.
Rozhestvensky’s captains couldn’t find it.
Rus was sent out to find the anchorage, which she did.
Not everything went well for Rus. Off the Cape of Good Hope on December 9, the squadron encountered severe storms in which the squadron’s battleships popped
up and down like tops. When the presence of the tug could be at its most crucial, the
Rus disappeared from the scene to steam out of the storm. As the squadron
approached Madagascar on December 16,
Rus was used as a dispatch vessel to carry cables to the port of Tamatave. As the combined 2nd and 3rd Pacific
Squadrons reached the South China Sea, Admiral Rozhestvensky decided to rid his fleet of some deadwood from his auxiliaries and cruisers. Between May 8 and
May 12 Rozhestvensky ordered ten of these strap hangars to steam clear of the fighting force and make for various areas of the Pacific in hopes of confusing the
Japanese. Three of the auxiliaries were considered indispensable and stayed with the fighting force. These were the
Rus, Svir and the ammunition ship, Korea.
Unfortunately, since
Anadyr served as a collier, she remained with the force. The Rus was with the auxiliaries at the Battle of Tsushima on May 14, 1905. Rus was
ordered to go to the assistance of the auxiliary cruiser
Ural, which was sinking. While on her way she was accidentally rammed and disabled by the ill begotten
Anadyr. The crew of the Rus was removed and about an hour later Japanese cruisers sank the Rus with gunfire. However, the Anadyr, nemesis of the Rus,
Anadyr disappeared into the mists of the Pacific and was not heard from for more than a month. As a collier, the Anadyr had plenty of coal intended for
the fleet, which was used to stay at sea and avoid all ports. On June 17, 1905 the captain of the
Anadyr cabled from Madagascar that he had been unable to proceed
to Vladivostok, as ordered.
The Combrig Rus Tugboat in 1:700 Scale - This is a small kit with only resin parts. It could use a small bit of railing for the upper deck and perhaps a few
inclined ladders, however, as shown on the box top photograph, the
Rus had solid bulkheads on the main deck. Although small, the Rus hull casting still has plenty
of detail. The hull has a straight cutwater and a nice undercut stern. On each side of the bow there are fine anchor hawse with open drainage scuttles through the
forecastle bulkheads above the hull hawse fittings. Another thing that does not come with the kit is anchor chain. A prominent horizontal hull strake runs the length
of the hull at the location of the main deck with the solid bulkheads above the strakes. Hull port holes are found fore and aft with three more in the raised portion of
the deck bulkhead in a sheltered area. At the stern there are three drainage scuttles in the bulkhead on each side. Deck detail includes fine deck planking but without
butt-end detail. On the forecastle is what appears to be a cargo hatch. On the quarterdeck is a very large skylight and an inclined ladder well leading into the hull.
The long deck house has port hole and door detail and a recessed locater outline on the top. Smaller resin parts come on one small sheet and four runners. The resin
sheet just has the upper deck. This is nicely done with plank detail, again without butt-end detail. There is an outline for the chart house and bridge and locater holes
for the two funnels and four J-cowl ventilators.
The next largest parts are on a runner with four parts, which contain both funnels, the bridge and the chart house. The funnels a rather plain but their tops are
sufficiently hollow for the illusion of depth. The steam pipes will have to be cut from thin plastic rod. Both the bridge and chart house have recessed square windows
and access doors with a port hole in the top of the door. A long runner has most of the smaller parts, which include boat davits, J-cowl ventilators, anchors, anchor
windlass, twin bollard fittings, compass, binnacle, and aft windlass. The last two runners have the ship’s boats with a single mid-size open boat on one runner and
two small boats of different patterns on the other. The instructions are simple but since there are so few parts, they do not pose a problem. There is one back-printed
sheet. One the front is a parts laydown and a profile drawing. On the back the assembly is shown in two drawings. The first drawing shows attachment of the
individual parts to the hull casting and the second drawing shows the finished model with the parts attached, plus the masts, yards and booms attached. Also on this
page is a matrix showing the masts, yards, booms, jack staves and bows over the skylight, which are cut by the modeler from plastic rod or strips. The matrix
shows the length of the parts as well as their diameter.
The Combrig Rus tugboat in 1:700 scale presents an easy build of the largest tugboat of her time, which was part of the Imperial Russian 2nd Pacific Squadron for
the world cruise which ended for the
Rus and the rest of the fleet at the Battle of Tsushima. It can also be painted as the German commercial tugboat SS Roland in
Steve Backer