On the morning of 10 August 1904, the First Pacific Squadron sailed out of Port Arthur to engage the Japanese fleet blockading the port. The Russian squadron consisted of the battleships Tsesarevich, Retvizan, Pobeda, Peresvet, Sevastopol, and Poltava, protected cruisers Askold, Diana, Novik and Pallada, and 14 destroyers.
Admiral Togo had expected this breakout attempt and had positioned his ships accordingly. His fleet consisted of Japan's four surviving battleships Mikasa, Asahi, Fuji, and Shikishima, the armoured cruisers Nisshin and Kasuga, as well as eight protected cruisers, 18 destroyers, and 30 torpedo boats.
Encountering the Russian squadron in the early afternoon, Admiral Togo's first move was to place the Japanese fleet between the Russian ships and Port Arthur, so as to prevent their return. When it became apparent that the Russians were heading for Vladivostok, Admiral Togo was far behind and he had to waste hours detouring around his weaker vessels so as to catch up with the slower Russian battleships at the head of the battle line. At 1743 hours he opened fire on the leading Russian ships, at a range of around 9,000 yards. From then until dusk Togo's First Division and the six Russian battleships fired at each other on almost even terms, with Mikasa and Tsesarevich receiving the brunt of the punishment.