Satakundskaya Flotilla
The Satakundskaya Flotilla was a brown-water navy
Brown-water navy
Brown-water navy is a term that originated in the United States Navy, referring to the small gunboats and patrol boats used in rivers, along with some of the larger ships that supported them as "mother ships," from which they operated...

 unit of the Imperial Russian Navy
Imperial Russian Navy
The Imperial Russian Navy refers to the Tsarist fleets prior to the February Revolution.-First Romanovs:Under Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich, construction of the first three-masted ship, actually built within Russia, was completed in 1636. It was built in Balakhna by Danish shipbuilders from Holstein...

, operating on Lake Näsijärvi, Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, during the First World War
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...

 from spring 1916 until winter 1917. In Finnish sources, the unit is often called Satakunta Fleet . The name of the unit derives from Satakunta, the historical province
Historical provinces of Finland
The historical provinces of Finland are a legacy of the country's joint history with Sweden. The provinces ceased to be administrative entities in 1634 when they were superseded by the counties, a reform which remained in force in Finland until 1997. The provinces remain as a tradition, but have...

 where Lake Näsijärvi was located at the time, but the Finnish version is likely a mistranslation of flotilla
A flotilla , or naval flotilla, is a formation of small warships that may be part of a larger fleet. A flotilla is usually composed of a homogeneous group of the same class of warship, such as frigates, destroyers, torpedo boats, submarines, gunboats, or minesweepers...


Operational history

The flotilla was founded during spring 1916, as the Russian military commissioned the Finnish passenger ship
Passenger ship
A passenger ship is a ship whose primary function is to carry passengers. The category does not include cargo vessels which have accommodations for limited numbers of passengers, such as the ubiquitous twelve-passenger freighters once common on the seas in which the transport of passengers is...

s SS Tarjanne, SS Kuru and SS Pohjola and the tugs
A tugboat is a boat that maneuvers vessels by pushing or towing them. Tugs move vessels that either should not move themselves, such as ships in a crowded harbor or a narrow canal,or those that cannot move by themselves, such as barges, disabled ships, or oil platforms. Tugboats are powerful for...

 Murole and Näsijärvi. In addition, civilian motorboats were requisitioned for military use. The ships were manned by their original Finnish crew, commanded by their Finnish masters
Captain (nautical)
A sea captain is a licensed mariner in ultimate command of the vessel. The captain is responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including cargo operations, navigation, crew management and ensuring that the vessel complies with local and international laws, as well as company and flag...

 subordinated to a Russian officer. The passenger ships were armed with 75 mm naval guns
Naval artillery
Naval artillery, or naval riflery, is artillery mounted on a warship for use in naval warfare. Naval artillery has historically been used to engage either other ships, or targets on land; in the latter role it is currently termed naval gunfire fire support...

, manned by Russian matrose. The flotilla was commanded by Captain of 2nd rank Shablin, who used the Tarjanne as his flagship. The Russian contingent of the flotilla numbered circa 100 men, housed in a storage building at Mustalahti harbor.

During its existence, the flotilla carried out no combat actions and never fired its main armament. The passenger ships were not designed to act as gun platforms and their structures would likely have suffered had the guns been used. Instead, during the navigation season of 1916, the flotilla practiced troop transports on Näsijärvi. In the event of a German
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

An invasion is a military offensive consisting of all, or large parts of the armed forces of one geopolitical entity aggressively entering territory controlled by another such entity, generally with the objective of either conquering, liberating or re-establishing control or authority over a...

 of Finland, the Satakunta flotilla would probably have been able to prevent the Germans from using Näsijärvi and been able to supply and transport army units in the area of this 100 km-long waterway. On the other hand, the flotilla was confined to Lake Näsijärvi, as Tammerkoski
Tammerkoski is a channel of rapids in Tampere, Finland. The city of Tampere is located between two lakes, Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi. The difference in altitude between these two is 18 metres and the water flows from Näsijärvi to Pyhäjärvi through the Tammerkoski rapids.The banks of the Tammerkoski...

 prevents all navigation downstream.

Disbandment and aftermath

During the spring 1917, the flotilla was paralyzed, as the February Revolution
February Revolution
The February Revolution of 1917 was the first of two revolutions in Russia in 1917. Centered around the then capital Petrograd in March . Its immediate result was the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, the end of the Romanov dynasty, and the end of the Russian Empire...

 negated the discipline of the Imperial Russian Army and Fleet. At the same time, the wages of the Finnish crewmembers were suspended, resulting in their leaving the flotilla. During the navigation season of 1917, the flotilla carried out no activities worth mentioning, and its Russian members moved out of Tampere in October 1917. The naval guns rigged on the passenger ships were left behind, and they saw action in the Finnish Civil War
Finnish Civil War
The Finnish Civil War was a part of the national, political and social turmoil caused by World War I in Europe. The Civil War concerned control and leadership of The Grand Duchy of Finland as it achieved independence from Russia after the October Revolution in Petrograd...

 three months later. During the winter and spring of 1918, they were first used by the Red Guards
Red Guards (Finland)
The Red Guards formed the army of Red Finland during the Finnish Civil War in 1918. The combined strength of the Red Guard was about 30,000 at the beginning of the Civil War, and peaked at 90,000-120,000 during the course of the conflict....

, then after the Battle of Tampere
Battle of Tampere
The Battle of Tampere of the Finnish Civil War was fought in Finland in 1918 between Red and White forces. The White forces besieged and captured the main city of the Red Guards, Tampere, taking around 10,000 Red prisoners....

, by the White Guard
White Guard (Finland)
The White Guard was a voluntary militia that emerged victorious over the socialist Red Guard as part of the Whites in the Finnish Civil War of 1918...


After the Civil War, the ships returned to civilian passenger service on Lake Näsijärvi. In 1929, the Kuru sunk in a storm, resulting in the loss of 138 lives. Of the three ships, the Tarjanne is still in active passenger service.

See also

  • Eastern Front (World War I)
    Eastern Front (World War I)
    The Eastern Front was a theatre of war during World War I in Central and, primarily, Eastern Europe. The term is in contrast to the Western Front. Despite the geographical separation, the events in the two theatres strongly influenced each other...

  • Russification
    Russification is an adoption of the Russian language or some other Russian attributes by non-Russian communities...

  • Finnish Civil War
    Finnish Civil War
    The Finnish Civil War was a part of the national, political and social turmoil caused by World War I in Europe. The Civil War concerned control and leadership of The Grand Duchy of Finland as it achieved independence from Russia after the October Revolution in Petrograd...

  • Tampere
    Tampere is a city in southern Finland. It is the most populous inland city in any of the Nordic countries. The city has a population of , growing to approximately 300,000 people in the conurbation and over 340,000 in the metropolitan area. Tampere is the third most-populous municipality in...

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