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Author:Georgian ANGHEL,superior harbour master

The development of the Romanian Navy began to take shape with the Union of the Romanian Principalities, in 1859, which led to the unification of the fleets of the two sister countries, on 22 October 1860, under the name of the Flotilla Corps, the command of this structure, which was the core of the future leadership of the Navy, being entrusted to Colonel Nicolae Steriade. By the First World War, Romania’s fighting potential had increased significantly. The Romanian Navy (the new name, since 1898) benefited from three programmes of equipping with ships and navigation means.
The involvement of the navy’s leadership was direct in their implementation. In 1907, at Galati, four monitors and eight river patrol boats were launched, forming the first Danube Squadron.
We also mention the ships: Princess Maria, built in 1895- 1896, at Fratelli Oriando, Livorno and King Charles I, built in 1898, at Fairfieid Shipbuilding & Engineering Co., Glasgow.
Romania, built in 1904-1905, at Chantier et Ateliers de la Loire, Saint Nazaire, France, Emperor Trajan, Dacia, built in 1907, at Chantiers et Ateliers de la Loire, Saint Nazaire, France, Cruiser Elisabeta, the first cruiser of the Romanian Navy, built in 1888 at Armstrong Shipyard, Mitchell & Co. Ltd of Newcastie upon Tyne.
After the Regulation implementing the 1898 Law on the Organisation of the Navy came into force on 3 October 1912, the Navy was reorganised in an attempt to bring it up to the level of the war fleets of Europe. The first steps were taken to set up a war flotilla and a command to meet Romania’s defence needs. The lack of shipyards in the country, as well as the policy of the Great Powers not to allow Romania to organize a naval force on the Danube, made it difficult to establish and develop the Navy.
The acquisition of small displacement and low firepower river military vessels kept Romania as a country without a major naval presence in the area, but this still allowed the formation of specific structures and the training of future naval officers.
Carol I was one of the promoters of the idea of fortifying strategic objectives: Bucharest, the Focșani-Galati line, the Cernavoda bridgehead, a fact that is abundantly proven by his correspondence with General Brialmont, or by the TO4I minutes of the Committee for their fortification.
With the annexation of Dobrogea to Romania, the military navy took on new dimensions, enjoying the greatest attention from the king. The nucleus of a sea fleet was now created, as well as a powerful river fleet.
The King found an exceptional way to raise money for the Romanian fleet.
In December 1912, the Public Subscription for the enlargement of the national navy was opened. A conference was held at the Athenaeum to show the citizens why this fleet was needed, and the press of the time also got involved in stimulating patriotic sentiment.
Let us increase and strengthen the country’s military fleet! headlined the newspaper “Universul”. By 1 March, almost 150,000 lei had been collected from public subscriptions (the fund-raising would continue after Christmas), and the first 1,000 sub-scribers who contributed at least 10 lei were entitled to christen the ships to be purchased.
So in 1913, ladies wore a more unusual bead tied with red and white thread on their lapels. Gilded or silver-plated, the marquetries were engraved on the front with a torpedo, and on the reverse side with the inscription: ‘The Romanian National Fleet’s Marquetry – Voice of the People, Voice of God’, inlaid in the country’s coat of arms, with the iron crown of King Carol I as the central symbol.

No less than 100,000 trinkets marquetries were sold during February, giving serious competition to other traditional retailers of fine marquetries. This was because, with only 50 bani (for silver-plated marzouches) and one leu (for gold-plated ones), the Romanian was making a gesture of great patriotism, as the funds raised were destined for the enlargement of the Kingdom’s military fleet.
King Charles I had called on the country’s citizens to contribute to a fund to equip the navy. The ambassadors’ conference in London, which sought to resolve the crisis in the Balkans, promised only a truce, a fragile peace at best, and Romania did not know whether it could afford neutrality until the end.
At the time, the message from the Throne was a strong one, asking the legislative chambers to consider the budget needed to strengthen the army. On this occasion, concerts, theatrical performances and even circus shows were organised to benefit the National Fleet.
Civil servants, teachers and other professionals donated a day’s salary to the fund, but one of the most effective initiatives was that of the Ploiesti Reserve Officers’ Association, which came up with the idea of a Trinket present for the national fleet.
They also intervened with the Ministry of War and the Ministry of the Interior so that these trinkets could be distributed throughout the country, starting on 5 February.
The order was for 100,000 pieces (50,000 silver and 50,000 gold). This raised 75,000 lei, and the leu had weight (1 leu = 1 gold franc).
The committee for the distribution of this trinket was made up of I. lonescu Quintus and Gh. Nicolaescu, then Barbu Fotescu, George Nasopol, Gh. T. Dănescu, owners and Gh. Dănescu farmer, all reserve officers from Prahoven.
They formed the National Fleet Committee of reserve officers and continued to work in the following months for the benefit of the Romanian Navy. The war of 1913 demonstrated the urgent need to modernise the Romanian army, a process which, although begun, was far from complete on 10 October 1914, when King Carol I passed into immortality.

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