Battle of the Dalmatian channels
The Battle of the Dalmatian channels was a three-day long confrontation between two task forces of the Yugoslav War Navy and coastal defenses of the Croatian Navy along Šolta
Šolta is an island in Croatia. It is situated in the Adriatic Sea in the central Dalmatian archipelago, west of the island of Brač, south of Split and east of the Drvenik islands . Its area is 58.98 km2 and it has a population of 1,675 .The highest peak of Šolta is the summit Vela Straža...

 island, the port
Port of Split
The Port of Split is a seaport in Split, Croatia, located in the Central Dalmatia. A trading post at the site was originally established by Greek settlers from the island of Vis and subsequently taken over by the Romans...

 of Split
Split (city)
Split is a Mediterranean city on the eastern shores of the Adriatic Sea, centered around the ancient Roman Palace of the Emperor Diocletian and its wide port bay. With a population of 178,192 citizens, and a metropolitan area numbering up to 467,899, Split is by far the largest Dalmatian city and...

, and the islands of Brač
Brač is an island in the Adriatic Sea within Croatia, with an area of 396 km², making it the largest island in Dalmatia, and the third largest in the Adriatic. Its tallest peak, Vidova Gora, or Mount St. Vid, stands at 778 m, making it the highest island point in the Adriatic...

, Hvar
- Climate :The climate of Hvar is characterized by mild winters and warm summers. The yearly average air temperature is , 686 mm of precipitation fall on the town of Hvar on average every year and the town has a total of 2800 sunshine hours per year. For comparison Hvar has an average of 7.7...

 and Korčula
Korčula is an island in the Adriatic Sea, in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County of Croatia. The island has an area of ; long and on average wide — and lies just off the Dalmatian coast. Its 16,182 inhabitants make it the second most populous Adriatic island after Krk...

, which took place from 14 to 16 November 1991. The fighting developed in a three-phase battle, beginning with the attack on the Yugoslav patrol boat PČ-176 Mukos off Šolta, followed by the shelling of the Split area by the naval task forces "Kaštela" and "Vis" and ending in the ambush of task force "Kaštela" by Croatian coastal gun
Coastal artillery
Coastal artillery is the branch of armed forces concerned with operating anti-ship artillery or fixed gun batteries in coastal fortifications....

s along the Korčula channel.


Tensions in Croatia had started with the Log Revolution
Log Revolution
The Log Revolution was an insurrection which started on August 17, 1990 in areas of the Republic of Croatia which were populated significantly by ethnic Serbs....

 in the summer of 1990, where militant groups of Croatian Serbs, incited from Serbia, proclaimed SAO Kninska Krajina
SAO Kninska Krajina
Serbian Autonomous Oblast of Kninska Krajina was a Serb self-proclaimed autonomous region in SR Croatia. It was formed in 1990 and was subsequently transformed into SAO Krajina and later included into the Republic of Serbian Krajina. The center of the SAO was the city of Knin.-History:After...

 and later SAO Krajina
SAO Krajina
Serbian Autonomous Oblast of Krajina or SAO Krajina was a self proclaimed Serbian autonomous region within modern-day Croatia . It existed between 1990 and 1991 and was subsequently included into Republic of Serbian Krajina...

 and began blockading roads connecting Dalmatia
Dalmatia is a historical region on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. It stretches from the island of Rab in the northwest to the Bay of Kotor in the southeast. The hinterland, the Dalmatian Zagora, ranges from fifty kilometers in width in the north to just a few kilometers in the south....

 to the rest of Croatia and obstructing and attacking Croatian police forces. They were also aided by the Yugoslav People's Army
Yugoslav People's Army
The Yugoslav People's Army , also referred to as the Yugoslav National Army , was the military of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.-Origins:The origins of the JNA can...

, particularly as the events escalated into the Croatian War of Independence
Croatian War of Independence
The Croatian War of Independence was fought from 1991 to 1995 between forces loyal to the government of Croatia—which had declared independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia —and the Serb-controlled Yugoslav People's Army and local Serb forces, with the JNA ending its combat...

 in the spring of 1991.

Following the Croatian independence referendum, in late June 1991 Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

 declared independence from Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

. A Charter of the rights of Serbs and other ethnic groups within the Republic of Croatia was issued. The declaration triggered an immediate reaction of JNA. Heavy fighting broke out between rebel Croatian Serb militias and Croatian police in several regions like Baranja, Slavonia
Slavonia is a geographical and historical region in eastern Croatia...

 and Knin area itself. Under the pretense of stopping the conflict, the Yugoslav Army
Yugoslav Army
Aside from the Yugoslav People's Army, the terms Yugoslav Army, Army of Yugoslavia, or Military of Yugoslavia may refer to:* Yugoslav Partisans , the Yugoslav resistance army during World War II...

 began to intervene on behalf of the Serb minority. Over the time, JNA's interventions was more and more openly pro-Serb.

In July 1991, following the Ten Day War in Slovenia, the European Community brokered the Brioni declaration that attempted to stop the hostilities, but failed as during the summer the conflict escalated into an open aggression on Croatia near Vukovar
Vukovar is a city in eastern Croatia, and the biggest river port in Croatia located at the confluence of the Vuka river and the Danube. Vukovar is the center of the Vukovar-Syrmia County...

, and in Lika
Lika is a mountainous region in central Croatia, roughly bound by the Velebit mountain from the southwest and the Plješevica mountain from the northeast. On the north-west end Lika is bounded by Ogulin-Plaški basin, and on the south-east by the Malovan pass...

. In September 1991, EEC and its member states convened a Conference on Yugoslavia which established an arbitration procedure
Arbitration Commission of the Peace Conference on the former Yugoslavia
The Arbitration Commission of the Conference on Yugoslavia was a commission set up by the Council of Ministers of the European Economic Community on 27 August 1991 to provide the Conference on Yugoslavia with legal advice...


In September 1991 Serbian attack on Croatia was in full swing. Yugoslav Minister of Defence, General V. Kadijevic, a Croatian Serb, despatched the first column of armoured vehicles from Serbia into Croatia. By the end of September, all-out Serbian attack was raging Croatia.
In response to that attack, the Croatian parliament on 8 October 1991 declared the severing all official and legal ties with Yugoslavia.

After Croatian Security forces besieged all Yugoslav Army barracks
Battle of the Barracks
Battle of the barracks - sometimes also called War for the barracks - is a term given to a series of engagements that took place throughout Croatia as part of the Croatian War of Independence during 1991, with the most important fighting in September...

 inside Croatian boundaries, the Yugoslav Navy imposed a blockade on Croatian ports from 15 September, although the operation was scaled down by 23 September when both sides agreed to a ceasefire. The truce, however, was short-lived and by 3 October the blockade was resumed, specially aimed at the cities of Pula
Pula is the largest city in Istria County, Croatia, situated at the southern tip of the Istria peninsula, with a population of 62,080 .Like the rest of the region, it is known for its mild climate, smooth sea, and unspoiled nature. The city has a long tradition of winemaking, fishing,...

, Rijeka
Rijeka is the principal seaport and the third largest city in Croatia . It is located on Kvarner Bay, an inlet of the Adriatic Sea and has a population of 128,735 inhabitants...

, Zadar
Zadar is a city in Croatia on the Adriatic Sea. It is the centre of Zadar county and the wider northern Dalmatian region. Population of the city is 75,082 citizens...

, Split, Ploče
Ploče is a town and a notable seaport in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County of Croatia.The total population of Ploče is 10,102 , in the following settlements:* Baćina, population 564* Banja, population 176* Komin, population 1,222...

 and Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is a Croatian city on the Adriatic Sea coast, positioned at the terminal end of the Isthmus of Dubrovnik. It is one of the most prominent tourist destinations on the Adriatic, a seaport and the centre of Dubrovnik-Neretva county. Its total population is 42,641...



The main Yugoslav-Serb effort at sea shifted from Dalmatia to Dubrovnik and the southern Croatian coast. In order to blockade this area, the Yugoslav Navy tightened its control on the main sea lanes from other Croatian ports. Indeed, during the first days of November, a convoy of 40 small boats, led by the ferryboat Slavija was stopped twice between Brač and Korčula while on 11 November, the Maltese-flagged coaster Euro River, manned by a Croatian crew, was sunk by gunfire off Šolta. By then, President Franjo Tuđman had established the new Croatian Navy on 11 September, which some days later gathered a fleet of 29 small naval vessels after the Yugoslav Navy base at Šibenik
Šibenik is a historic town in Croatia, with population of 51,553 . It is located in central Dalmatia where the river Krka flows into the Adriatic Sea...

 fell into Croatian hands. The backbone of the coastal defenses, however, were the naval artillery emplacements on the shore and the islands. Meanwhile the Yugoslav Navy deployed three task forces around central Dalmatia from its bases in the islands of Vis and Lastovo
Lastovo is an island municipality in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County in Croatia. The municipality consists of 46 islands with a total population of 792 people, of which 93% are ethnic Croats, and a land area of approximately . The biggest island in the municipality is also named Lastovo, as is the...

. Task force "Kaštela" comprised the frigate RF-31 Split, two Končar class
Končar class fast attack craft
The Končar class is a class of fast attack craft that was built for the SFR Yugoslav Navy in the late 1970s. Following the break-up of Yugoslavia one craft went to the Croatian Navy whilst the remaining five went to the Montenegro Navy...

 missile boats, one Osa I
Osa class missile boat
The Project 205 Tsunami, more commonly known by their NATO reporting name Osa, are a class of missile boats developed for the Soviet Navy in the early 1960s. The Osas are probably the most numerous class of missile boats ever built, with over 400 vessels constructed for both the Soviet Navy and for...

 missile boat, one Shershen class torpedo boat
Shershen class torpedo boat
The Shershen class was the NATO reporting name for a class of torpedo boats built for the Soviet Navy and allies. The Soviet designation was Project 206 Shtorm.-Design:...

 and two Mirna class patrol boats. Task force Vis included the frigate RF-34 Pula, two Končar class missile boats and three patrol boats. The third and smaller battle group, "Ploče", was made up of one Končar class missile boat, two Osa class and three minesweepers.

PČ-176 Mukos crippled

On 14 November the task force “Kaštela” was enforcing the blockade off Split, while the sister force “Vis” was in reserve around the island of Hvar. Task force "Ploce" was largely inactive at that time.

At 17: 34, while on patrol between the islands of Šolta and Brač , PČ-176 Mukos was rocked by an underwater explosion below her bow, either after striking a mine or being hit by an improvised torpedo launched by Croatian naval forces. Another ship of task force "Kaštela", the torpedo boat TČ-224 Pionir II was detached to assist the crippled unit. The surviving members of the crew were rescued by 18:10, while the abandoned boat was left adrift with her bow submerged. Three Yugoslav seamen lost their lives. She was later taken in tow by local fisherman and beached at Nečujam
Nečujam is a village in Croatia....

 bay. Some time later, Croatian Navy divers raised Mukos, which was towed to Šibenik by a tug of the Croatian company “Brodospas”. She was put back in service by the Croatian Navy as OB-62 Šolta, which later changed her pennant number to OB-02.

The remainder warships of "Kaštela" were soon targeted by the Croatian guns emplaced in Brač and Šolta. They reacted by pounding the small villages of Stomorska
Stomorska is a village in Croatia, on the northern coast of Šolta island. It is connected by the D111 highway....

 and Milna
Milna is a village and municipality on the western side of the island of Brač, Split-Dalmatia county, Croatia.It is situated in a deep bay oriented towards the island of Mrduja and Split Channel, on the west.The village was settled in the 16th century, by sheppards from Nerežišća.- Villages in the...

 with gunfire. At the same time, task force "Vis", led by the frigate Pula, was ordered to proceed toward the southern area of the islands to join the fighting, which continued through the night. According to commander Ilija Brčič, aboard Pula, his ships were engaged by 88 mm coastal guns when 7 or 8 miles away from Šolta. Brčič claims that they returned fire with Pula`s AK 726 76 mm gun. Pula also launched four broadsides of RBU-6000
The RBU-6000 Smerch-2 is a 213 mm caliber Soviet anti-submarine rocket launcher. It is similar in principle to the Royal Navy Hedgehog system used during the Second World War...

 rocket-propelled depth charges out of their effective range, just as a a show of force. Croatian sources recall that 800 rounds fell on Brač and Šolta, hitting farms and buildings but without inflicting casualties.

In addition to the artillery units, the Croatian Navy deployed naval commandos
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

 equipped with motorboats on the western coast of Brač.

Shelling of Split

As a retaliation for the loss of Mukos, the Yugoslav Navy commanders decided to shell selected targets around the city of Split. The operation would be carried out by task force "Kaštela".

At 6:42 of 15 November, the frigate Split gave green light to the other ships to open fire. They hit and damaged the ferryboat Vladimir Nazor and killed two members of her crew. Another ferry, the Bartol Kašić was also hit by a number of rounds. In Split itself, the gunfire damaged the town hall, the Archeological Museum, a technical school, and the city’s sports center. The old Croatian coastal guns, under the command of Admiral Sveto Letica
Sveto Letica
Sveto Letica , was a Croatian admiral, and the first commander of the Croatian Navy.-Biography:...

, responded with concentrated volleys, which reportedly struck Split and other warships. The flotilla eventually withdrew to the east after a minefield prevented them from taking the shorter southern route back to their base at Vis.

At 9:30, a six Jastreb
Soko J-21 Jastreb
|-See also:...

 fighters mission against the Croatian artillery scrambled to support the withdrawal of task force “Kaštela” through the Neretva
Neretva is the largest river of the eastern part of the Adriatic basin. It has been harnessed and controlled to a large extent by four HE power-plants with large dams and their storage lakes, but it is still recognized for its natural beauty, diversity of its landscape and visual...

 channel. Croatian anti-aircraft artillery from Brač claimed to have shot down two of the fighters. Serb sources reported the loss of a Jastreb over the sea on 15 November and the rescue of the pilot by their Navy, but without disclosing the exact place.

Ambush at Korčula channel

Task force “Kastela” joined three minesweepers from task force "Ploče" during its retreat from the Split channel. On the morning of 16 November, the nine-ship strong squadron steamed towards the Korčula channel, where they would meet task force "Vis". At 11:00, the warships, now between Hvar and Lovište
Lovište is small port town located in the Dubrovnik-Neretva county in Croatia. It has a population of 244. It is situated at the very end of the Pelješac peninsula, and was isolated before a road to the town was built....

, and led by the minesweepers, were ambushed by the Croatian guns. The artillery, specially a 76 mm emplacement at Lovište, straddled the minesweepers with its first salvoes, given their low speed. Minesweeper ML-143 was hit on her bow and her sister ML-144 Olib suffered heavy damage on the engine room. At 15:30, the frigate Split responded by pouring gunfire on the coastal guns between Blace and Račišće
Račišće is a village on the island of Korčula in Croatia. Korcula the island is part of the Dalmatian coast and it belongs to the Dubrovnik-Neretva county. It has a population of 477 residents. The village is situated 12 kilometers west of the old town of Korcula.Racisce was established in 17th...

. The Croatian gunners had built shelters which allowed them to endure the bombardment without casualties. The battery at Blace near-missed Split and another vessel when task force “Kastela” was regrouping near the island of Šćedro
Šćedro is an island in the Adriatic Sea, off the south coast of the island of Hvar, Croatia, opposite the settlement of Zavala. The name comes from štedri, meaning charitable in old Slavonic, because the island offers two deep, well-protected bays for shipping...

. The third minesweeper, ML-153 Blitvenica, was on fire after a round left a 120 x 70 cm hole on her port side. The battery at Lovište fired 76 rounds all said, while the guns of Blace fired 36. An 85 mm battery at Privala, in the westernmost side of the island of Korčula, fired 11 rounds on Split, after being shelled by this vessel and the frigate Pula, which was awaiting the rendezvous with task force “Kaštela” on the other side of the channel. Meanwhile, ML-143 sank off Šćedro not before her crew was transferred to another ship, and ML-144 ran aground at Torac bay, on the southern coast of Hvar. Eventually, the Yugoslav fleet withdrew towards Vis amid thick fog and a truce was signed shortly after, at 18:00.


The Yugoslav fleet didn't sail from Vis again until its final withdrawal to Boka Kotorska in December. General Mladenić, commander in chief of the Yugoslav Army in Dalmatia, acknowledged that 22 seamen were killed in the engagement, while 6 civilians and two Croatian sailors died during the naval shelling of Split. The battle secured the sea routes between the ports of Dalmatia and resulted in the end of Yugoslav naval operations in the central Adriatic. Retired Croatian Navy officer Stjepan Bernardić proposed that 15 November should be remembered as the day of the Croatian Navy, in the same way that 22 October is celebrated in Britain after Trafalgar
Battle of Trafalgar
The Battle of Trafalgar was a sea battle fought between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French Navy and Spanish Navy, during the War of the Third Coalition of the Napoleonic Wars ....

 or 10 May in Italy after the sinking of the Austro-Hungarian battleship SMS Szent István
SMS Szent István
SMS Szent István was a dreadnought , the only one built in the Hungarian part of Austria-Hungary. The Ganz & Company's Danubius yard in Hungarian-owned Fiume was awarded the contract to build the battleship in return for the Hungarian government agreeing to the 1910 and 1911 naval budgets...

 during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

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