|The Diana class of protected cruisers was ordered as part of the 1895 naval program to reinforce the Russian Baltic Fleet. Each of the ships was named after a
mythological goddess: Diana, the goddess of the hunt, Pallada (Pallas Athena) the goddess of wisdom and Aurora the goddess of the dawn. Aurora was the last of the
three to be completed. She was laid down in St. Petersburg in June 1897, launched on May 11, 1900 and commissioned July 16, 1903. Designed for 20 knots, Aurora
was slower than designed with a speed of 18.97 at trials. The class packed a considerable armament for their 6,731ton displacement with ten 6-inch/45 and twenty-four
75mm/45 guns. Aurora could easily be distinguished from her sisters by the presence of gun shields on her gun mounts. Diana and Pallada had open mounts.
Upon completion Aurora was ordered to the Pacific to join the Port Arthur Squadron, however she was held up in the Mediterranean because the pre-dreadnought
Oslyabya, which she was escorting, needed repairs in Italy. When word was received of the start of the Russo-Japanese War, the ships were ordered back to the Baltic
to become part of the relief expedition. Aurora was with Rovhestvenski’s ill-fated 2nd Pacific Squadron, which weighed anchor from Libau in the Baltic on October 15,
1904 to steam half way around the world. During the Battle of Tsushima, May 27 to May 28 1905, Aurora, along with the cruisers Oleg and Zhemchug, became
separated from the main fleet during the night of May 27. They headed south and reached the neutral port of Manila, where they were interned by the United States until
the end of the war. During the battle Aurora had been hit twice with 17 killed and 80 wounded.
After the end of the war she returned to the Baltic, which she reached in February 1906. In 1907 Aurora was assigned to train naval cadets and subsequently went on
cruises. During World War One, she was part of the 2nd Baltic Cruiser Brigade. She was fairly inactive, basically guarding the entrance to the Gulf of Finland. In
November 1916 she went into the yard at St. Petersburg for a major overhaul, which amounted to removing stacks and guns and replacing the boilers.