The Russo-Japanese War opened in February of 1904 with the Japanese launching a surprise assault on the Russian fleet at Port Arthur without benefit of a declaration of war, something that would grow to become a lovable Japanese trademark throughout the 20th Century. The remainder of the Tsar's Pacific squadron was soon either sunk or bottled up in Port Arthur.
A relief force consisting of most of the rest of the Russian navy set sail from the Baltic in October, its objective being the relief of besieged Port Arthur. Since they were in something of a tiff with Great Britain, the Suez canal was barred to them, and as a result the had to take the long way 'round Africa while Port Arthur fell to the Imperial Japanese Army.
After a seven month, 18,000-mile voyage, the mighty battleships of the Tsar's navy were sighted in the Tsushima Straits by the navy of a country that had been dragged kicking and screaming from a medieval agrarian existence not forty years before. Most of the Baltic Fleet ended their epic voyage on the bottom of the sea.
By the morning of May 28, the few surviving Russian ships surrendered to Admiral Togo, who had beaten their pants off with superior technology, superior seamanship, and superior tactics. To say the rest of the world was stunned would be something of an understatement.