An introduction: The Russian navy (1680-1917)

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Before the Soviet Navy, there was the Russian Navy. The latter was of relatively recent composition (from the seventeenth century, Peter the Great). Governing a colossal continental power, the Tsar of all the Russias had little interest in maritime affairs. But long before this vast country secured outlets on the Black Sea or the Baltic, the Slavs possessed rudiments of long-sea maritime trade, carried out first and foremost by fluvial boats, and then Ships of Scandinavian nature, influenced by the Venetian construction (present-day Poland). In the Middle Ages, the Slavic navigators were equally bold as those of the Vikings on their Lodyas, a Russian replica of the Drakkars, but originally canoe derivatives. Some cities, such as Kiev and Novgorod, had enjoyed a certain radiance thanks to maritime trade on a network of routes from the Scandinavian and Hanseatic cities to Constantinople and Greece.

The semi-legendary figure of Rurik, that funded Kiev. Scandinavian shipbuilding was locally adapted to produce the Lodya.

At that time there was an embryo of a naval force, for vast fleets were thrown against Constantinople by the princes. The Black Sea is certainly the cradle of the Russian fleet, and its academy. A trade also began in the Baltic with the Hanse, but the lack of large coastal ports prevented its development. Moreover, pirates began a real boom in the 15th century, to which the Tsars brought a solution by financing the protection of their ships by the Danes, bought at a gold price thanks to the benefits of this trade. The threat of the Tatars, the Mongols and the Teutonic Knights having passed, a new opponent in the Baltic presented himself: Sweden. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the house of the Romanov succeeded to the house of Rurik. Disturbances marked this interregnum, in the Sea of ​​Azov and the Black Sea, while Cossack expeditions defended the interests of the Tsar. But these operated more often on land, or in solid galleys, distant derivatives of the Lodyas.

A Kievan Rus Lodya.

It was not until the reign of Peter the Great (1682) that Russia really took an interest in the possession of a military fleet. In 1693, he was very influential in his youth by everything that had to do with ships. He founded the port of Arkhangelsk in the White Sea. But the latter was a prisoner of the icy climate and seasonal passage in the ice. He thought of securing above all a durable outlet in the Black Sea, and this access was blocked only by the Turkish fortress of Azov. With his first few ships, built with the assistance of a Francophone Switzerland, Franz Lefort, future admiral, built the first force of ships and galleys, commanded by the Cossacks, and completed the siege of the fortress by his capture. After this first victory, he officially created the Russian fleet in 1696. The latter did not have the opportunity to distinguish themselves, for although Kerch was taken without a fight, the Turks came to reconquer in 1711 the territories gained earlier, for lack of Russian reinforcements. More than ever determined to offer Russia another port, Petr Velikiy (Peter the Great) was looking in the Baltic. For many centuries, suede, strong in its fleet, the most powerful of this inland sea, was a serious obstacle to the safety of merchant traffic and of the Russian Interests in general.

Russian galley
A Russian galley

In 1701, a Swedish fleet attacked the Dvina estuary, with Arkhangelsk as its objective, saved by some Russian ships. The following year, a victory was won on Lake Ladoga. Finally, in 1703, the Tsar laid the first stone of the fortress of St. Petersburg, built in the midst of the sands and marshes, commanding the mouth of the Neva. In 1704 a new Swedish attack was broken on the fires of the Russian battle line supported by the large pieces of the batteries of the islands of Kotlin and Kronstadt. Finally, in 1709, it was Poltava’s victory. In 1715, the Naval Academy of St. Petersburg was founded, while the Tsar ordered the construction of a vast fleet of galleys, the Skampayevas, destined to constitute the base of its fleet of the Baltic. That same year she engaged them in the great battle of Gangut, which she won. In 1721 the dominant position of Sweden belonged to the past, and Peter the Great had realized his dream.

Battle of Chesma
The battle of Chesma

After his reign, the Russian fleet was organized around this port, the pivot of the Baltic fleet. The navy was reorganized, codified. Beginning in 1730, several expeditions followed the cartography of the Kuriles and Kamchatka islands, not yet finding the route to the Indies and China. In 1736, the fortress of Azov was taken again, allowing again an outlet on the Black Sea. From 1762, Catherine II began to take up the dream of Peter I and launched the construction of a fleet in the Black Sea, the fleet of Azov, the Turks still threatening. This fleet was soon to be distinguished in the Mediterranean, repelling the Turks in the Aegean Sea in the battle of Chesma, and then consolidating its positions by the capture of Patras in 1772. In 1782 the Crimea was anchored to Russia and under the aegis of Potemkin , The fortress of Sevastopol was founded, the main base of the fleet of the Black Sea. It was to prove its effectiveness at the battle of Ochakov in 1788.

Russian embargo 1807
The Russian fleet of the line deployed against the Turks, Russian embargo on 1807.

Slowly but surely, the bases of the different fleets are in place, the organization becomes more complex, budgets are increasing. In 1791, peace was signed for a time with Turkey, which confirms the attachment of the Kuban and the Crimea to Russia. In 1798, a school of naval engineers and architects was formed in St. Petersburg. From now on, Russia must no longer be dependent on foreign assistance in the design of its ships. But in 1805, the war resumed once more with Turkey, it lasted until 1812, yielding only with the Napoleonic threat. After the French peril, Russia tried to steam, and it was Saint-Petersburg that had the first of the first ship so propelled in Russia, the Elisabeta, in 1815. In 1823, the first steam gunboat was accepted In service, it is the Meteor. However, like the other major naval powers, the Russian fleet has above all three-bridges, four-decks and wooden and sailing frigates.

The battle of Navarin, 1827

The Black Sea fleet will have the opportunity once again to distinguish itself with the French and British allies of Navarin in 1827, probably the last great battle in line of sailing ships, and defeating an Egyptian- Turkish. On the technological side, Russia took a certain lead in designing the first steel submersible in 1834. In 1866, engineer Aleksandrovsky was able to design the first submersible with a compressed air motor. But the Admiralty still paid little attention to it. In 1848, the Archimede became, like the ship of the same name in Britain, its first “screwless” (helix) ship. During the Crimean War, the battle of Sinope, on 30 November 1853, put an end to new Turkish reconquest vexations: It ended with a disaster for their squadron and the triumph of Admiral Nakhimov.

Russian ironclad Sevastopol, 1861

The 1860s-70s were rich in upheavals in the naval technique: While the French launched the first battleship Gloire, followed by the British with the Warrior, Russia launched Sevastopol in 1864, followed by the Petropavlovsk and the three Pervenets. In 1867 she launched her first central battery battleship, Kniaz (Count) Pojarski, followed by her first turret battleship, the Minin, in 1869. She equipped herself with monitors in 1864 for her coastal defense and then developed projects Singular, like the armored batteries with concentric hull Popov and Novgorod, in 1872-75, the only ones of this type ever built in the world. But it still had its fleet of classic lines, all built or converted to steam: 4 three-bridges, 6 two-bridges, 9 frigates and 26 corvettes.

In 1877-78 a new Turco-Russian war broke out, and this time new weapons were used by Russia, including submersibles equipped with mines intended to operate from coastal fortresses. Developed by the talented Polish engineer Stefan Drzewiecki, they enter into service and its mass-produced especially during this conflict. Moreover, an ancestor of torpedo boats is experienced with success. Drzewiecki, who also created the first electric submersible in 1884, will greatly advance naval science in this field and give Russia some advance.

Drzewiecki submarine
Drzewiecki submarine, as built

The Russian navy continued to grow exponentially, from 1886. The last of the Romanovs, Tsar Nicholas II, had accelerated the rate of construction from 1897 to such an extent that in 1904, on the eve of the Russo-Japanese war, it had reached the third tonnage in the world. But these impressive numbers were divided, as always between the Black Sea, the Baltic, the Pacific (Port Arthur), and the Northern Fleet (Arkhangelsk). In 1904, it lined up 28 battleships, 13 cruisers, 18 cruisers, about 30 gunboats, a hundred destroyers and three hundred torpedo boats, and, more rarely in 1904, an operational fleet of 8 submersibles. The following is known: The fleet of the Pacific was attacked by surprise at the anchorage in the harbor of Port Arthur by a raid of torpedo boats and destroyers, and became the Russian Pearl Harbor: All its fleet was annihilated. She then dispatched her entire Baltic fleet, which made a long 8-month journey. This allowed the Japanese time to disembark troops and put the siege at Port Arthur. The fate of the weapons will be sealed in 1905 at Tsushima, the most fatal date for the Russian fleet, which suddenly lost the whole of the Baltic fleet, 12 battleships, leaving almost unarmed with the only numbers in the Black Sea and Of the Arctic.

Saint Andrei cross, Russian traditional pavilion

The consequences will be considerable. They are part of the discontent which culminated in 1917 in the revolution. Moreover, if the construction program resumed after 1905 (A new type of super-destroyer type, the Novik, 8 dreadnoughts and 4 battle cruisers), the Russian Imperial Navy participated in the operations of the War, especially in the Baltic. What remains will be swept away during the civil war. Almost three-quarters of the surviving units will end up being scrapped for lack of maintenance, a lot similar to that of the contemporary Soviet fleet…

Voyenno-morskoy flot SSSR

The Soviet Navy that fought in WW2 was a small (comparatively however on a larger scale than the kriegsmarine) in 1941, but with losses and fall in wartime production, dwindled rapidly; Nevertheless she was still an asset that Stalin used at best in the black sea and the Baltic until 1945. Riverine forces, of all these, were probably the most heavily involved into the fight due to the abundance of large rivers and tributaries from where they can operate from. Some armoured gunboats even fought in the battle of Berlin, making their way on the Spree. The actions of marine troops at Sevastopol, Leningrad or Stalingrad are also all to be remembered. The aura of revolutionary fervor and loyalty to the regime was linked to actions going back to the Potemkine mutiny in 1905 and the large scale revolts of the black sea in 1917 culminating with the decisive action of the cruiser Aurora in St Petersburg, since kept as a precious relic.

The Aurora was the famous cruiser that took part in the St Petersburg October revolution.

State of the Soviet navy in 1921

In 1921, the party decided to reconstitute a fleet, counting existing units in relative good condition, given the time it would take to make the devastated shipyards operational. The balance is made of the units to be retained. And it is heavy: More than 75% of the surviving ships still afloat are in such a state and of such seniority, that they are decided to send them to scrap, especially in Germany. However, efforts were successful and in 1922, concentrating on the units of value, a “fleet” of the Baltic was established, comprising 1 battleship (Marat class), 1 cruiser, 8 destroyers and 9 submersibles. But also 1 cruiser, 2 destroyers and 2 submersibles for the Black Sea.

1926 naval plan

In 1926, with the restarting of the shipyards, 2 other battleships could be put back into service, as were 1 cruiser, 13 destroyers, 14 submersibles. The plan for the reconstruction of the merchant fleet had been started in 1925, and the Soviet fleet was naturally prepared to do the same. Approved in November 1926, this five-year plan provided for the construction of 12 submersibles, 18 coast guards, 36 MTBs, and the modernization of two cruisers, 4 destroyers and a few other units. This plan was revised in 1929, with permission to build three heavy, 10 submersible, 16 MTBs and two river monitors. The reconstruction of the three battleships and a cruiser was also under study.

Sovietskaya flota

1933 naval plan

The second five-years plan of 1933 was beginning a turn when the naval defense strategy, relying on a large number of submersibles and torpedo boats, coast guards and river monitors, favored the staff. This plan focused on submersibles, of which 355 were scheduled, as well as 194 MTBs and 4 river monitors, as well as 10 heavy squadron and 20 destroyer destroyers. It was redesigned to finally establish itself at 155 submersibles, 248 MTBs, 49 destroyers and 9 destroyers leaders, but also 4 heavy cruisers.

Technically, the Soviets were very much in demand for advice and help from French, German, English, and especially Italian engineers. (Kirov), and brought their know-how to the new class of destroyers (Gnevnyi), and built the entire heavy destroyer Taschkent. The French brought their advice for the design of the heavy destroyers of the Kiev class, and the Germans, under cover of their office installed at the Hague, studied designs that were taken over by the Russians for their submarines.

1938 naval plan

The third five-year plan of 1938 was by far the most ambitious, under the personal guidance of Stalin, who was more anxious than ever to give the USSR a maritime strategy that went from defensive to resolutely offensive. The advocates of the defense strategy within the Admiralty were no longer heard… The purges had gone by. In fact this plan foresaw for the first time fast battleships and battle cruisers, those planned and built shortly after the London naval conference in 1936, ending the moratorium initiated in Washington. In total these were 19 battleships, 20 cruisers, 18 squadron destroyers, 145 destroyers, 341 submersibles, 514 MTBs, and 44 river monitors. These figures were subsequently reduced, and in order to compensate for the lack of funds, the classes were standardized, with a view to simplifying production.

Soviet Naval Power in 1939

With a grand total of about 403,000 tonnes, the Soviet navy was classed seven in the world’s order, behind the Kriegsmarine.
On the strategic point of view, the emphasis was placed in the 1930s on defensive means, mostly MBTs and submarines, with a limited construction program of cruisers and destroyers (designed in Italy) which size was tailored for the Black sea (first) and the Baltic, plus the far east Vladivostok station being sacrificed. Light cruisers left in shipyards by 1916-17 has been thoroughly modernized, sometimes entirely rebuilt like the Krazniy Kavkaz, as well

Tonnage in sept. 1939

Dreadnoughts 75,000
Cruisers 29,297
Destroyers 96,237
Submarines 119,594
Misc. 84,309

Admiral Gorshkov painting

Soviet Battleships

In 1941, the Soviet forces could count on three completely reconstructed and modernized dreadnoughts battleships, the Gangut (Octyabrskaya Revolucya), an economic solution for all nations. Indeed, in 1941, the number of new “super-dreadnought” or fast battleship units in service in the world was quite limited. Treaty of Washington obliges. At the time when the latter was signed, Russia was naturally excluded, being still in chaos. Then there was the lack of budgets and infrastructure that prevented him from embarking on this type of project. But from 1935, the Soviet Union finally had the will and the means to re-design ships of the line. In no way constrained by a treaty it had never signed, it was completely free to constitute a fleet without limits of tonnage and units individually well beyond the standards of the time. But this was not the case.

Parizhskaya Kommuna
Battleship Parizhskaya Kommuna (“Paris Commune”) as rebuilt in the late 1930s.

The USSR had planned ships of the line, rather late (see below). The fleet could have been reinforced with the old dreadnoughts Imperatritsa Mariya (former Tsarist name, launched in 1913-14), but of the three units of the class, only the Volya survived the great war, entered the camp of the whites during the Civil war and was deactivated in 1925 and demolished in 1936, under French control. The great battleship imperator Nikolai I, begun in 1915, launched in 1916, was captured incomplete and demolished by the Germans to prevent it from falling into the hands of the “reds” in 1919. The four powerful battle cruisers of the Borodino class, Would have also come into service in 1917-18, but were all demolished by the revolution and demolished in 1923, except for the Izmail, which was still being worked on for some time, and which was demolished, In 1931.

Battleship Marat in Gdynia

First projects: The battleships of the Sovietskiy Soyuz class: These three units, which were put on hold in 1938 and 1939 under the first plan, remained unfinished because of the hostilities. The hulls were demolished in the 1940s. The battle cruisers of the Kronstadt class, begun in 1939, were hardly more advanced. Second projects: Under the 1943-47 plan, and revised for the 1950-56 plan, the three major battle cruisers of the Stalingrad class saw their construction postponed to the 1950s and eventually demolished, with priority given to More reasonable and modern ships after the death of Stalin.

Stunning artist impression of the Borodino class battlecruisers

Soviet Cruisers

In 1941 the fleet consisted of 8 cruisers, the oldest being the Komintern (ex-Pamiat Merkurya, 1904), a training ship; The famous Aurora, because it was retained as a floating museum of the revolution from 1948 onwards and was put back into service in 1923 as a cadet training ship until 1931, Leningrad, until the invasion, bombed by the Luftwaffe then scuttled to avoid being captured. It was bailed out in 1944 and repaired, restored to its original condition of 1917. It is still on display and constitutes one of the Kitsch tourist attractions of Leningrad today.

Krasnyy Kavkaz, 1930s

The Svetlana class cruisers, built in 1913 and of a first class which was to comprise 6 units, suffered the vicissitudes of the conflict and only the three most advanced units entered service , The Chevronya Ukraina (formerly Admiral Nakhimov) in 1927, the Krasny Krim (formerly Profintern, formerly Svetlana) in 1928, and the Krnasny Kavkaz (formerly Admiral Lazarev) in 1932. Nothing more to do with the other two. The first two had a relative military value because of their outdated design.

The most effective and recent cruisers of the Russian navy were those of the Kirov class and Maxim Gokiy. The former had been built as the latter in the Soviet Union, but their conception was almost entirely Italian. In fact, they recall certain ships of this navy. However, they have certain peculiarities such as the adoption of 180 mm triple turrets in the main artillery, an unusual configuration (standard 203 mm – or 8 inches, of heavy cruisers or 152 mm – or 6 inches, of light cruisers). But by their tonnage and comparison with older units, they come under the category of heavy cruisers. The two Kirovs were completed in 1938 and 1940, Maxim Gorky in 1940 and Vyacheslav Molotov in June 1941, on the 6th, almost 15 days before the German invasion (22 June). The other two units of the class, the Kaganovich and the Kalinin, were only ready in 1943 and 1944. Finally, the cruisers of the Chapayev class, started in 1938-39-40, launched in 1940 for the first, Will only be completed well after the war.

Soviet destroyers

The Soviet fleet inherited the impressive herd of the Tsarist navy, whose lineage of formidable units derived from the Novik of 1904, at that time the most powerful destroyer of the globe. In reality virtually all the old units had been lost in the turmoil of civil war. However, the fleet rehabilitated a number of units: In 1941, it had a few ships of the Donskoi Kazak class, as well as other pre-Tsushima destroyers (reclassified as gunboats) and 16 Novik class ships. The last were from 1914-16, the first of 1904.

“Blue Beauty” (Tashkent) out of OTO Liverno shipyards in Italy, bound to Sevastopol to be fitted and armed

Heavy destroyers in service in 1941 were also referred to as destroyers leaders, and these were so heavy units in their class, that they ended sometimes equated with light cruisers. These were the 6 units of the Leningrad class and the Taschkent, “blue beauty”. The latter, contemporary with the Kirov, was also designed by the Italians, but it was even built in Italy, in Livorno. She was hailed as the most beautiful warship of its time. Other heavy destroyers of the same model as the Taschkent were to be produced in the USSR, the Kiev class, but they remained unfinished.

Destroyer leader Kharkov

Most of the standard destroyers were the units of the 1936 plan, the Gnevnyi class, which will comprise 31 units, and those of the Storozhevoi class (20 units), and the unique Opytnyi. The Ognevoi class was much more modern, but the units were launched in 1940, two of which were completed in 1944 and the rest in 1945-48. This class was to comprise a first group of 24 units, but it appears that only 14 were created.

Soviet destroyer of the black sea fleet

Soviet submarines

The strategists of the Soviet Admiralty envisioned a form of naval defense close to the French theories of the young school, with few heavy units but many torpedo boats, minesweeper, submersibles and coast guard. The fleet of Russian submarines in 1941 was the largest in the world, ahead of Germany. It was classified into three categories: oceanic, medium-coastal, and light-coastal. The oldest in service were the four of the AG class (1916-23), of American origin, and the Bezbozhnik, a former British submarine of the L class, sunk by “red” destroyers in Konstadt, Then captured and returned to service in 1931.

The oldest were oceanic types of series I, comprising six units (1928-29), followed by series II (6), series XI (6), series XIII and XIII bis (7 and 6). The latter, assimilated into a single “L” class, were minelayers completed shortly before, during or after the invasion. The series IV (1934) was an unfortunate experiment of “submarines of squadron”, comprising 3 units, series XI, oceanic standard model (38 units), and series XIV (12), the last of these Classes, completed during the war.

Submarine S51

The medium-sized submersibles (general class Schch) included the four units in series III, 40 in series V, V bis and V bis-2, 33 in series X and 12 in series X bis During the war). The fleet of light coastal submersibles (general class M) comprised 50 of class VI and VI bis and 50 of class XII and XII bis, the last of which entered service in 1942. The XV-series units entered Service well after the German invasion, the first 3 in 1941-42, and 3 others after the war.

Soviet Misc. ships

In 1941 the Russian fleet had a large number of coast guard frigates, light but powerful ships. These were the Yastreb (8), Albatros (12), Dzerzhinsky (2), Uragan (18) and Rubin. The latter were related to the coastal minesweepers of the Tral class. This class consisted of 48 units, the last of which were in service just at the time of the German invasion. The Russians also had 4 ex-Lithuanian units captured (T297), old units such as Amur, Minrep, Kluz and Udarnik, and the modern T301. Ships of type T371 will follow, but these will only enter service from 1943, and their series will continue until 1956 to the extent of 250 units.

Uragan class gunboat, during the war

USSR also possessed riverine gunboats, the oldest being the Krasnoye Zamya, totally rebuilt, and 3 river monitors of the Shkval class. There were also the Korall, a former Lithuanian ship, integrated in June 1941, the river monitors of the Udarnyi (2) class, Zheleznyakov (6), and the 1124/1125BKA and MBK, armed with standard tank turrets, 85 In service in June 1941, 68 in the process of completion, and 110 rapidly completed, totaling 270 till 1945. Mineshunters were also part of the force, including the Marti, a formerly rebuilt Shtandart imperial yacht, and Two Suurop (ex-Estonian), and the two netsmen of the Oneya class (barges reconverted in 1941). Moreover, their circulation in the Arctic depended on the four armed icebreakers of the Yosif Stalin class (1937-39).

Submarine chasers were also part of its strength, the MO2 type MO2 and the MO4 type MO4, and the larger BO2 units. One of the spearheads of its coastal defense was a large fleet of torpedo boats, the Sh4 (52), G5 (292), and D3, the latter mostly built during the conflict, of which about ten (Out of 139) were in line in 1941. The last, class Komsomolec, will be built only in 1944-45, and affected against Japan. So in total (based on questionable figures) comprised 44 coastguards, 57 minesweepers, 98 gunboats including 93 inland waterways, 3 minesweeper, 126 submersibles and 400 MTBs.

The Soviet Navy in Action (1941-45)

Camouflaged Soviet destroyer; Straight line patterns were preferred

During the war, the Soviet fleet received a certain number of units from the allies: The battleship Arkhangelsk (ex-Royal Sovereign, Resolution class) arrived in reinforcement in August / September 1944, as well as the cruiser Murmansk, ex -USS Milwaukee, Omaha class, in April 1944. The USSR also received a group of eight ex-British ex-British destroyers, the famous mass-pipe-pipeers of 1917-19, under the name of class Dostoinyi. 4 Romanian destroyers were captured by the Russians and integrated in 1944 into the Black Sea fleet. These were the Letuchyi, Likhoi, Logkiy, Lovkiy, ex-Regele Ferdinand and Regina Maria, Marasti and Marasesti, as well as three Romanian submersibles (S3, 4 and TS4 ex-Requinul, Delfinul, Marsuinul.). It will integrate 4 other ex-Latvian and ex-Estonian submersibles (Ronis, Spidola, Kalev, lembit) into the fleet, and received 4 British submarines of the S and U classes, named V1 to V4.

More modest units were also transferred, 28 class EK1 (former Tacoma class) escort in 1945, for the Pacific front; 34 minesweepers T111 (ex-US, class Admirable), of which 10 in 1943 and the others in 1945; 15 ex-British coastal minesweepers in 1944-45; 43 lightweight minesweepers (ex-YMS class, Americans) in September 1945, to which were added Vosper (British, 90 issued in 1944-45) and Higgins (Americans, 43 delivered between 1943 and 1945) Elco (Americans, 60 delivered in 1944-45, 202 other deliveries including 53 in sections and spare parts). The Americans also delivered 138 submarine chasers of the SC, OTC and RPC classes to the USSR from mid-1943.

Sh4 class MTBs

During the conflict, man-made buildings, such as heavy units, battleships, cruisers, were abandoned or postponed, and light units were given priority (especially since the large ports, on the western side in the majority, were very quickly In addition to the Kalinin and Kaganovich (Gorkiy class) cruisers sufficiently advanced to be completed, there were also two Ognevoi class destroyers, a few Schch, M and K submersibles. (4 units between 1942 and 1945), and the T371 class coastal ships, a total of 145 vessels and 250 vessels after the war. At the end of the war, about 20 Komsomolec-type VLTs were also issued to face Japan, 15 class BO2 submersibles, 100 MBK river monitors, 1,000 light minesweepers Classes R, K and MSV, KM4 and KM5, as well as about 100 patrol boats of the PK and MKM class.
All these units took an active part in the conflict, in spite of the mainly terrestrial character of the operations, for the river monitors being one of the original maps of the Russian arsenal with armored trains.

T404 class minesweepers

Many losses were reported in the Black Sea as well as in the Baltic Sea, and especially in the Arctic, where the U-Boats were carrying out a carnage, despite the considerable escort allocated to the transport of weapons and supplies, USSR from 1942. Losses were numerous, both for submersibles and destroyers (more than a third), and heavy units such as the battleship Marat, victims of the Luftwaffe, or the cruiser Chervona Ukraina. The greater part of the Russian fleet was a victim of land forces, itself serving as a fire support for the Black Sea’s strongholds such as Sebastopol, or the Baltic as Leningrad. The paradox of this war was, as it were for the campaign of France, the uselessness of a fleet in operations. The only units massively deployed and in direct contact with the enemy were thus hundreds of armored fluvial gunboats (On the Volga, the Amur and the Western Prut, the Dnieper and the Don.).

Riverine fleet on the Volga. The Soviet Navy was mobilized to cross the Volga several times a day, carrying into the furnace thousands of fresh troops

The allies strongly criticized the inefficiency or worse, the inaction of the Soviet naval forces present in the Arctic. The convoys of Murmansk and Arkhangelsk were in fact escorted only by British ships which were supposed to pass the relay to Russian units arrived halfway. Now, as the navy and the Russian air force, having no coordination and their individual initiatives hampered by a heavy bureaucracy, did not rise to the task of facing the Kriegmarine and the Luftwaffe operating from their base Norway. There were, on the spot, few units of value, no cruisers, no battleships to oppose German liners and cruisers before the transfer of two ships transferred under the leasing law ( Bearing the names of the ports concerned by these operations). The latter, moreover, were elderly (the United States and Great Britain were reluctant to entrust the “reds”, allies of circumstance, valuable ships, fearing probably to have to find them in front of them later) and their confrontation With the Tirpitz or even with the pocket cruisers would have been undoubtedly disastrous. The Royal Navy preferred not to venture its heavy units for fear of the Luftwaffe.

Battleship Arkhangelsk, lend by the British (ex. HMS Royal Sovereign) for the duration of the Arctic convoys.

When the operations in Finland were carried out, they reflected the obstinate and devilish defense of the Finns at sea. The Gulf of Bothnia and Lake Ladoga, among others, were full of minefields, from which a considerable number of Russian units exploded, The Finnish navy having been since 1939, captured or put out of action for the greater part. On August 8, 1945, a short Soviet offensive was launched with the forces liberated from the Western Front and transferred to the East since May. The modest fleet of the pacific took an active part in it. Marshal Vassilievski engaged more than 1,200,000 men, 5,500 tanks and 4,000 planes against General Otozo in the Kuangtung, with the aim of taking back Manchuria, North Sakhalin Island, the Kurile Islands and the north of the Korean Peninsula, before That peace be signed. In a few days, it advanced and encircled with the help of Chiang Kai shek from the south, the main Japanese forces, which surrender on the 19th. But the campaign continued on other fronts – September, the end of the war).

Fisanovich – ace commander of M-172 submarine (credits

The singularity of the Russian “naval operations” thus brought only a reduced teaching to the Admiralty to define its post-war policy. They only confirmed the commitment to a defense policy based largely on submersibles and light units. There was only Stalin’s express will to persist in a classic, “Mahanian” vision of line fleets. The presence of an aircraft carrier would have been of great help, however, if only to protect its units, track the U-boats, repel the Luftwaffe. The lack of a true naval aviation was cruelly felt: the latter was only formed in the 1960s. Finally, the naval development of the USSR was still accelerating in 1945: When the rearmament plan arrived at its In 1958, the Soviet fleet was ranked second in the world, above the Royal Navy.

Soviet Naval Forces, listing

List of Soviet ships and articles

Battleships Gangut class
Cruisers Kirov, Gorkiy, Ukraina, Kavkaz, Komintern classes
Destroyers Leningrad & Tashkent (heavy), Gnevnyi, Storozhevoi, Opytny, Sverdlov (Novik), Ognevoi
Submarines Series I to XV
Misc. Coast guards Dzerzhinsky, Uragan, Yastreb/Albatros
Minesweepers Polukhin, Tral, T301, MTBs
Monitors & gunboats Coastal – Riverine
Submarine chasers MO2, MO4, BO2, BMO, TK and BO201 classes
Minelayer Marti, Onyega class, Suurop (1940), Don (1944)
Minesweeping launches R, K, MSV, KM4, KM5, PK, MKM classes
MTBs, attack crafts ANT, Sh4, G5, D3, Komsomolec, prototypes
Armoured Motor launches 1124BKA, 1125 BKA, MBK
Icebreakers Stalin class
Naval air force See the article
Projects & what-ifs See the article
Soviet Navy camouflage See the article

Soviet MTBs