In April 1877, twenty-one years after the end of the Crimean War, Russia and Turkey - two of the principal participants - once again found themselves at war. Although Great Britain was not directly involved, her determination to maintain the balance of power in the Balkans meant that, as Russian forces gradually overwhelmed European Turkey outside Constantinople itself, the British government was forced to intervene with a suitable gesture of intent. Eventually deciding that a show of strength by the Navy was the most appropriate course of action, Admiral Phipps Hornby was ordered to take a battle squadron through the Dardanelles into the Sea of Marmora and there await further instructions. Six battleships were selected - Hornby's flagship H.M.S. Alexandra along with the Agincourt, Achilles, Swiftsure, Téméraire and Sultan - which, formed up into a column, entered the southern end of the Dardanelles early on the morning of 13th February 1878 in a heavy snowstorm. All ships were at General Quarters in case the Russians had already taken the forts on the Gallipoli side although before the squadron even reached Chanak, the blizzard had intensified to obscure the shore from view. In fact, the weather conditions brought the ships to the brink of disaster on several occasions but they finally got through to Constantinople and thence into the Sea of Marmora. Despite the serious risks involved, the British ploy proved a total success; Russia was forced to halt her advances and the Congress of Berlin was convened amongst the 'Great Powers' to settle the various territorial complexities of the region.