Soviet Navy
Overview
 
The Soviet Navy was the naval arm of the Soviet Armed Forces
Soviet Armed Forces
The Soviet Armed Forces, also called the Armed Forces of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Armed Forces of the Soviet Union refers to the armed forces of the Russian SFSR , and Soviet Union from their beginnings in the...

. Often referred to as the Red Fleet, the Soviet Navy would have played an instrumental role in a Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Treaty Organization of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance , or more commonly referred to as the Warsaw Pact, was a mutual defense treaty subscribed to by eight communist states in Eastern Europe...

 war with NATO, where it would have attempted to prevent naval convoys from bringing reinforcements across the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 from North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 to Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

. Such a conflict never occurred, but the Soviet Navy still saw considerable action during the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

.

The Soviet Navy was divided into four major fleets: the Northern, Pacific
Pacific Fleet (Russia)
The Pacific Fleet is the part of the Russian Navy that is stationed in the Pacific Ocean, which formerly secured the Far Eastern borders of the Soviet Union. The fleet headquarters is located at Vladivostok and a number of fleet bases are located in the Vladivostok area...

, Black Sea
Black Sea Fleet
The Black Sea Fleet is a large operational-strategic sub-unit of the Russian Navy, operating in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea since the late 18th century. It is based in various harbors of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov....

, and Baltic
Baltic Fleet
The Twice Red Banner Baltic Fleet - is the Russian Navy's presence in the Baltic Sea. In previous historical periods, it has been part of the navy of Imperial Russia and later the Soviet Union. The Fleet gained the 'Twice Red Banner' appellation during the Soviet period, indicating two awards of...

 Fleets; under separate command was the Leningrad Naval Base
Leningrad Naval Base
-History:The Naval base was created on the basis of Order № 117 as of March 15, 1919 of the Baltic Sea Fleet. The Naval Forces of Petrograd were transformed by the order into the Petrograd Naval Base....

.
Encyclopedia
The Soviet Navy was the naval arm of the Soviet Armed Forces
Soviet Armed Forces
The Soviet Armed Forces, also called the Armed Forces of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Armed Forces of the Soviet Union refers to the armed forces of the Russian SFSR , and Soviet Union from their beginnings in the...

. Often referred to as the Red Fleet, the Soviet Navy would have played an instrumental role in a Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Treaty Organization of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance , or more commonly referred to as the Warsaw Pact, was a mutual defense treaty subscribed to by eight communist states in Eastern Europe...

 war with NATO, where it would have attempted to prevent naval convoys from bringing reinforcements across the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 from North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 to Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

. Such a conflict never occurred, but the Soviet Navy still saw considerable action during the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

.

The Soviet Navy was divided into four major fleets: the Northern, Pacific
Pacific Fleet (Russia)
The Pacific Fleet is the part of the Russian Navy that is stationed in the Pacific Ocean, which formerly secured the Far Eastern borders of the Soviet Union. The fleet headquarters is located at Vladivostok and a number of fleet bases are located in the Vladivostok area...

, Black Sea
Black Sea Fleet
The Black Sea Fleet is a large operational-strategic sub-unit of the Russian Navy, operating in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea since the late 18th century. It is based in various harbors of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov....

, and Baltic
Baltic Fleet
The Twice Red Banner Baltic Fleet - is the Russian Navy's presence in the Baltic Sea. In previous historical periods, it has been part of the navy of Imperial Russia and later the Soviet Union. The Fleet gained the 'Twice Red Banner' appellation during the Soviet period, indicating two awards of...

 Fleets; under separate command was the Leningrad Naval Base
Leningrad Naval Base
-History:The Naval base was created on the basis of Order № 117 as of March 15, 1919 of the Baltic Sea Fleet. The Naval Forces of Petrograd were transformed by the order into the Petrograd Naval Base....

. The Caspian Flotilla
Caspian Flotilla
The Caspian Flotilla is the oldest Russian military flotilla, stationed in the Caspian Sea. It was awarded the Order of the Red Banner in 1945.-Establishment:...

 was a smaller force operating in the land-locked Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

. The Mediterranean Squadron drew its units from the Black Sea, Baltic, and Northern Fleets; the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

 Squadron primarily from the Pacific Fleet. Other components included Naval Aviation
Soviet Naval Aviation
Soviet Naval Aviation was a part of the Soviet Navy.- Origins :...

, Naval Infantry (the Soviet equivalent of marines), and Coastal Artillery
Coastal artillery
Coastal artillery is the branch of armed forces concerned with operating anti-ship artillery or fixed gun batteries in coastal fortifications....

.

According to a 1980 Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

 article citing analysts from RAND Corporation, non-Slavs
Demographics of the Soviet Union
According to data from the 1989 Soviet census, the population of the Soviet Union was 70% East Slavs, 12% Turkic peoples, and all other ethnic groups below 10%. Alongside the atheist majority of 60% there were sizable minorities of Russian Orthodox followers and Muslims According to data from the...

 were generally prohibited from joining elite or strategic positions in the armed forces like the Navy, Strategic Rocket Forces
Strategic Rocket Forces
The Strategic Missile Troops or Strategic Rocket Forces of the Russian Federation or RVSN RF , transliteration: Raketnye voyska strategicheskogo naznacheniya Rossiyskoy Federatsii, literally Missile Troops of Strategic Designation of the Russian Federation) are a military branch of the Russian...

 and the Soviet Air Force
Soviet Air Force
The Soviet Air Force, officially known in Russian as Военно-воздушные силы or Voenno-Vozdushnye Sily and often abbreviated VVS was the official designation of one of the air forces of the Soviet Union. The other was the Soviet Air Defence Forces...

 because of suspicions of the loyalty of ethnic minorities.

Most of the Soviet Navy was reformed into the Russian Navy after the dissolution of the Soviet Union
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
The dissolution of the Soviet Union was the disintegration of the federal political structures and central government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , resulting in the independence of all fifteen republics of the Soviet Union between March 11, 1990 and December 25, 1991...

 in 1991.

Early history

The Soviet Navy was based on a republican naval force formed from the remnants 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...

, which had been almost completely destroyed in the Revolution of 1917, the Russian civil war
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

, and the Kronstadt rebellion
Kronstadt rebellion
The Kronstadt rebellion was one of many major unsuccessful left-wing uprisings against the Bolsheviks in the aftermath of the Russian Civil War...

. During the revolution, sailors deserted their ships at will and generally neglected their duties. The officers were dispersed (some were killed by the Red Terror
Red Terror
The Red Terror in Soviet Russia was the campaign of mass arrests and executions conducted by the Bolshevik government. In Soviet historiography, the Red Terror is described as having been officially announced on September 2, 1918 by Yakov Sverdlov and ended about October 1918...

, some joined the "White
White movement
The White movement and its military arm the White Army - known as the White Guard or the Whites - was a loose confederation of Anti-Communist forces.The movement comprised one of the politico-military Russian forces who fought...

" (anti-communist) armies, and others simply resigned from the Navy) and most of the sailors left their ships. Work stopped in the shipyards, where uncompleted ships deteriorated rapidly.

The Black Sea Fleet fared no better than the Baltic. The Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 revolution entirely disrupted its personnel, with mass murders of officers; the ships were allowed to decay to unserviceability. At the end of April 1918, German troops entered the Crimea and started to advance towards the Sevastopol
Sevastopol
Sevastopol is a city on rights of administrative division of Ukraine, located on the Black Sea coast of the Crimea peninsula. It has a population of 342,451 . Sevastopol is the second largest port in Ukraine, after the Port of Odessa....

 naval base. The more effective ships were moved from Sevastopol to Novorossiysk
Novorossiysk
Novorossiysk is a city in Krasnodar Krai, Russia. It is the country's main port on the Black Sea and the leading Russian port for importing grain. It is one of the few cities honored with the title of the Hero City. Population: -History:...

 where, after an ultimatum from Germany, they were scuttled by Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

's order. The ships remaining in Sevastopol were captured by the Germans and then, after November 1918, by the British. On 1 April 1919, when Red Army forces captured Crimea, the British squadron had to withdraw, but before leaving they damaged all the remaining battleships and sank thirteen new submarines. When a White Army captured Crimea in 1919, it rescued and reconditioned a few units. At the end of the civil war, Wrangel's fleet
Wrangel's fleet
Wrangel's Fleet, the last remnant of the Black Sea Fleet of the Imperial Russian Navy, existed from 1920 until 1924. This squadron was a "White" unit during the Russian Civil War...

, a White fleet, moved to Bizerta in French Tunisia, where it was interned.

The first ship of the revolutionary navy could be considered the rebellious Imperial Russian cruiser
Cruiser
A cruiser is a type of warship. The term has been in use for several hundreds of years, and has had different meanings throughout this period...

 , whose crew joined the Bolsheviks. Sailors of the Baltic fleet supplied the fighting force of the Bolsheviks during the October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

. Some imperial vessels continued to serve after the revolution, albeit with different names.

The Soviet Navy, established as the "Workers' and Peasants' Red Fleet" (Russian: Рабоче-Крестьянский Красный флот, Raboche-Krest'yansky Krasny Flot or RKKF) by a 1918 decree
Soviet Decrees
Decrees were legislative acts of the highest Soviet institutions, primarily of the Council of People's Commissars and of the Supreme Soviet or VTsIK , issued between 1917 and 1924...

 of the Soviet government, was less than service-ready during the interwar years.
As the country's attentions were largely directed internally, the Navy did not have much funding or training. An indicator of its reputation was that the Soviets were not invited to participate with the Washington Naval Treaty
Washington Naval Treaty
The Washington Naval Treaty, also known as the Five-Power Treaty, was an attempt to cap and limit, and "prevent 'further' costly escalation" of the naval arms race that had begun after World War I between various International powers, each of which had significant naval fleets. The treaty was...

, which limited the size and capabilities of the most powerful navies. The greater part of the old fleet was sold by the Soviet government to Germany for scrap. In the Baltic Sea there remained only three much-neglected battleships, two cruisers, some ten destroyers, and a few submarines. Despite this state of affairs, the Baltic Fleet remained a significant naval formation, and the Black Sea Fleet also provided a basis for expansion. There also existed some thirty minor-waterways combat flotillas.

During the 1930s, as the industrialization of the Soviet Union proceeded, plans were made to expand the Soviet Navy into one of the most powerful in the world. Approved by the Labour and Defence Council in 1926, the Naval Shipbuilding Program included plans to construct twelve submarines; the first six were to become known as the Dekabrist class
Dekabrist class submarine
The Dekabrist-class were the first class of submarines built for the Soviet Navy after the October Revolution. They were authorized in the Soviet Naval Shipbuilding Program of 1926....

. Beginning 4 November 1926, Technical Bureau Nº 4 (formerly the Submarine Department, and still secret), under the leadersip of B.M. Malinin
Boris Mikhailovich Malinin
Boris Mikhailovich Malinin was a Soviet shipbuilding scientist and graduate of Saint Petersburg Polytechnical Institute. From 1926 to 1940, he was the chief designer of the majority of Soviet submarines to include the Dekabrist-class, Leninets-class, Shchuka-class, and Malyutka-class.In 1913 at...

, managed the submarine construction works at the Baltic Shipyard
Baltic Shipyard
The Baltic Shipyard is one of the oldest shipyards in Russia. It is located in Saint Petersburg in the south-western part of the Vasilievsky Island. It is one of the three shipyards active in Saint Petersburg...

. In subsequent years, 133 submarines were built to designs developed during Malinin's management. Additional developments included the formation of the Pacific Fleet in 1932 and the Northern Fleet in 1933. The forces were to be built around a core of powerful Sovetsky Soyuz-class battleships
Sovetsky Soyuz class battleship
The Sovetsky Soyuz class battleships , also known as "Stalin's Republics", were a class of battleships begun by the Soviet Union in the late 1930s but never brought into service. They were designed in response to the battleships being built by Germany...

. This building program was only in its initial stages by the time the German invasion
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 forced its suspension in 1941.

The Soviet Navy had some minor action in the Winter War
Winter War
The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland. It began with a Soviet offensive on 30 November 1939 – three months after the start of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Poland – and ended on 13 March 1940 with the Moscow Peace Treaty...

 of 1939–1940 on the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

, limited mainly to cruisers and battleships fighting artillery
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 duels with Finnish
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...

 forts.

The Second World War

After the beginning of the Second World War
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

, many sailors and naval guns were detached to reinforce the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

; these reassigned naval forces participated with every major action on the Eastern Front. Soviet naval personnel had especially significant roles on land in the battles for Odessa
Battle of Odessa (1941)
The Siege of Odessa was part of the Eastern Front area of operations in 1941, it was primarily conducted by Romanian forces and elements of the German Army's 11th Army...

, Sevastopol
Battle of Sevastopol
The Siege of Sevastopol took place on the Eastern Front of the Second World War. The campaign was fought by the Axis powers of Germany, Romania and Italy against the Soviet Union for control of Sevastopol, a port in Crimea on the Black Sea. On 22 June 1941 the Axis invaded the Soviet Union under...

, Stalingrad
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943...

, Novorossiysk
Novorossiysk
Novorossiysk is a city in Krasnodar Krai, Russia. It is the country's main port on the Black Sea and the leading Russian port for importing grain. It is one of the few cities honored with the title of the Hero City. Population: -History:...

, Tuapse, and Leningrad
Siege of Leningrad
The Siege of Leningrad, also known as the Leningrad Blockade was a prolonged military operation resulting from the failure of the German Army Group North to capture Leningrad, now known as Saint Petersburg, in the Eastern Front theatre of World War II. It started on 8 September 1941, when the last...

.

The composition of the Soviet fleets in 1941 included:
  • 7 cruisers (including 4 modern Kirov-class heavy cruisers
    Kirov class cruiser
    The Kirov-class cruisers were six vessels built between 1935 and 1944 for the Soviet Navy: Kirov, Voroshilov, Maxim Gorky, Molotov, Kalinin, and Kaganovich. After the first two ships, armor protection was increased and subsequent ships are sometimes called the Maxim Gorky class...

    ),
  • 59 destroyer-leaders and squadron-destroyers (including 46 modern Type 7
    Gnevny class destroyer
    The Gnevny class were a group of destroyers built for the Soviet Navy in the late 1930s - early 1940s. They are sometimes known as the Gremyashchiy class destroyer and the Official Soviet Designation was Project 7...

     and Type 7U
    Soobrazitelny class destroyer
    The Soobrazitel'nyi class were destroyers built for the Soviet Navy in the early 1940s. The Soviet designation was Type 7U or Ulutshenyi . The ships fought in World War II. They were modified versions of the Gnevny class destroyers. The design was finalised in 1936 after initial disappointments...

     destroyers),
  • 218 submarines,
  • 269 torpedo boats,
  • 22 patrol vessels,
  • 88 minesweepers,
  • 77 submarine-hunters,
  • and a range of other smaller vessels.

In various stages of completion were another 219 vessels including 3 battleships, 2 heavy and 7 light cruisers, 45 destroyers, and 91 submarines.

Included in the totals above are some pre-WWI ships (Novik-class destroyers, some of the cruisers, and all the battleships), some modern ships built in the USSR and Europe (like the Italian-built destroyer Tashkent
Tashkent class destroyer
The Tashkent Class were a group of destroyer leaders built for the Soviet Navy just before World War II. Only one ship was completed.The first ship, Tashkent was ordered under the second Five Year Plan, from the Italian OTO company of Livorno in 1935. She was considerably larger and more capable...

and the partially completed German cruiser ). During the war, many of the vessels on the slips in Leningrad
Leningrad
Leningrad is the former name of Saint Petersburg, Russia.Leningrad may also refer to:- Places :* Leningrad Oblast, a federal subject of Russia, around Saint Petersburg* Leningrad, Tajikistan, capital of Muminobod district in Khatlon Province...

 and Nikolayev were destroyed (mainly by aircraft and mines
Naval mine
A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to destroy surface ships or submarines. Unlike depth charges, mines are deposited and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, an enemy vessel...

), but the Soviet Navy received captured Romanian destroyers and Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease was the program under which the United States of America supplied the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, China, Free France, and other Allied nations with materiel between 1941 and 1945. It was signed into law on March 11, 1941, a year and a half after the outbreak of war in Europe in...

 small craft from the U.S., as well as the old Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 battleship (renamed Arkhangelsk) and the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 cruiser (renamed Murmansk) in exchange for the Soviet part of the captured Italian navy.

Baltic Fleet

In the Baltic Sea, after Tallinn
Tallinn
Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It occupies an area of with a population of 414,940. It is situated on the northern coast of the country, on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, south of Helsinki, east of Stockholm and west of Saint Petersburg. Tallinn's Old Town is in the list...

's capture, surface ships were blockaded in Leningrad and Kronstadt
Kronstadt
Kronstadt , also spelled Kronshtadt, Cronstadt |crown]]" and Stadt for "city"); is a municipal town in Kronshtadtsky District of the federal city of St. Petersburg, Russia, located on Kotlin Island, west of Saint Petersburg proper near the head of the Gulf of Finland. Population: It is also...

 by minefields, where they participated with the anti-aircraft
Anti-aircraft warfare
NATO defines air defence as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action." They include ground and air based weapon systems, associated sensor systems, command and control arrangements and passive measures. It may be to protect naval, ground and air forces...

 defense of the city and bombarded German positions. One example of Soviet resourcefulness was the battleship Marat
Battleship Petropavlovsk (1914)
The Russian battleship Petropavlovsk was the third of the four dreadnoughts, the first Russian class of dreadnoughts, built before World War I. She was named after the Russian victory over the British and the French in the Siege of Petropavlovsk in 1854. The ship was completed during the winter...

, an aging pre-WWI ship sunk at anchor in Kronstadt's harbor by German Stukas
Junkers Ju 87
The Junkers Ju 87 or Stuka was a two-man German ground-attack aircraft...

in 1941. For the rest of the war, the non-submerged part of the ship remained in use as a grounded battery. Submarines, although suffering great losses due to German and Finnish anti-submarine
Anti-submarine warfare
Anti-submarine warfare is a branch of naval warfare that uses surface warships, aircraft, or other submarines to find, track and deter, damage or destroy enemy submarines....

 actions, had a major role in the war at sea by disrupting Axis navigation
Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

 in the Baltic Sea.

Other Theaters of Operation

In the Black Sea, many ships were damaged by minefields and Axis aviation
History of the Luftwaffe during World War II
The German Luftwaffe was one of the strongest, most doctrinally advanced, and most battle-experienced air forces in the world when World War II started in Europe in September 1939. Officially unveiled in 1935, in violation of the Treaty of Versailles, its purpose was to support Adolf Hitler's...

, but they helped defend naval bases and supply them while besieged, as well as later evacuating them. Heavy naval guns and courageous sailors helped defend port cities during long sieges by Axis armies
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

. In the Arctic Ocean, Soviet Northern Fleet destroyers (Novik-class, Type 7, and Type 7U) and smaller craft participated with the anti-aircraft and anti-submarine defense of Allied convoy
Convoy
A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.-Age of Sail:Naval...

s conducting Lend-Lease cargo shipping. In the Pacific Ocean, the Soviet Union was not at war with Japan before 1945, so some destroyers were transferred to the Northern Fleet.

From the beginning of hostilities, Soviet Naval Aviation
Soviet Naval Aviation
Soviet Naval Aviation was a part of the Soviet Navy.- Origins :...

 provided air support to naval and land operations involving the Soviet Navy. This service was responsible for the operation of shore-based floatplanes, long-range flying boats, catapult-launched and vessel-based planes, and land-based aircraft designated for naval use.

As post-war spoils, the Soviets received several Italian warships and much German naval engineering and architectural documentation.

Cold War

In February 1946 the Red Fleet was renamed the Soviet Navy , literally the Soviet Military Naval Fleet. After the war, the Soviets concluded that they needed to be able to compete with the Western powers at all costs, and began a program to achieve parity. The Soviet shipbuilding program kept yards busy constructing submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

s based upon World War II German Kriegsmarine designs, and were launched with great frequency during the immediate post-war years. Afterwards, through a combination of indigenous research and technology obtained through espionage from Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 and the Western nations, the Soviets gradually improved their submarine designs, though they initially lagged the NATO countries by a decade or two.

The Soviets were quick to equip their surface fleet with missile
Missile
Though a missile may be any thrown or launched object, it colloquially almost always refers to a self-propelled guided weapon system.-Etymology:The word missile comes from the Latin verb mittere, meaning "to send"...

s of various sorts. Indeed it became a feature of Soviet design to place large missiles onto relatively small, but fast, missile boat
Missile boat
A Missile Boat is a small craft armed with anti-ship missiles. Being a small craft, missile boats are popular with nations interested in forming an inexpensive navy...

s, while in the West such an approach would never have been considered tactically feasible. The Soviet Navy did also possess several very large and well-armed guided-missile cruisers, like those of the Kirov
Kirov class battlecruiser
The Kirov-class battlecruiser is a class of nuclear-powered military ships of the Russian Navy, the largest and heaviest surface combatant warships currently in active operation in the world. The Russian designation is heavy nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser...

 and Slava
Slava class cruiser
The Slava class cruiser, Soviet designation Project 1164 Atlant, is a large conventionally-powered warship, currently operated by Russia.-Design:...

 classes. By the 1970s, Soviet submarine technology was in some respects more advanced than in the West, and several of their submarine types were considered superior to their American rivals.

The 5th Operational Squadron (:ru:5-я Средиземноморская эскадра кораблей ВМФ) operated against the NATO naval forces in the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

, especially the U.S. Sixth Fleet.

Carriers and aviation

Although the Soviet Union's wartime naval commander-in-chief, Admiral Kuznetsov
Nikolai Gerasimovich Kuznetsov
Nikolay Gerasimovich Kuznetsov was a Soviet naval officer who achieved the rank of Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union and served as People's Commissar of the Navy during The Second World War....

, actively promoted the building of aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

s after the war, Communist Party ideology termed them "instruments of capitalist imperial aggression" and accordingly deemed them unsuitable for the USSR. Moreover, among the armed services the Navy was lowest in priority in the consideration of the Party's management. Premiers Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

 and Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev  – 10 November 1982) was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , presiding over the country from 1964 until his death in 1982. His eighteen-year term as General Secretary was second only to that of Joseph Stalin in...

 considered aircraft carriers overly expensive, time-consuming, and vulnerable to attack.

The Soviet Navy still had the mission of confronting Western submarines, creating a need for large surface vessels to carry anti-submarine helicopters. During 1968 and 1969 the Moskva-class helicopter carriers were first deployed, succeeded by the first of four aircraft-carrying cruisers of the Kiev class
Kiev class aircraft carrier
The Kiev class carriers were the first class of fixed-wing aircraft carriers built in the Soviet Union....

 in 1973. Both of these types were capable of operating ASW helicopters, and the Kiev class also operated V/STOL
V/STOL
Vertical and/or short take-off and landing is a term used to describe aircraft that are able to take-off or land vertically or on short runways. Vertical takeoff and landing describes craft which do not require runways at all...

 aircraft (e.g. the Yak-38 'Forger'
Yakovlev Yak-38
The Yakovlev Yak-38 was Soviet Naval Aviation's first and only operational VTOL strike fighter aircraft, in addition to being its first operational carrier-based fixed-wing aircraft...

); they were designed to operate for fleet defense, primarily within range of land-based Soviet Naval Aviation aircraft.

During the 1970s the Soviets began Project OREL, whose stated purpose was to create an aircraft carrier capable of basing fixed-wing fighter aircraft in defense of the deployed fleet. The project was canceled during the planning stages when strategic priorities shifted once more. It was during the 1980s that the Soviet Navy acquired its first true aircraft carrier, Tbilisi, subsequently renamed Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov, which carries Sukhoi Su-33 'Flanker-D'
Sukhoi Su-33
The Sukhoi Su-33 is an all-weather carrier-based air defence fighter designed by Sukhoi and manufactured by KnAAPO. It is a derivative of the Su-27 "Flanker" and was initially known as the Su-27K. The aircraft was first used in operations in 1995, aboard the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov...

 and MiG-29
Mikoyan MiG-29
The Mikoyan MiG-29 is a fourth-generation jet fighter aircraft designed in the Soviet Union for an air superiority role. Developed in the 1970s by the Mikoyan design bureau, it entered service with the Soviet Air Force in 1983, and remains in use by the Russian Air Force as well as in many other...

 fighters, and Ka-27
Kamov Ka-27
|-See also:-External links:*...

 helicopters. A distinctive feature of Soviet aircraft carriers has been their offensive missile armament (as well as long-range anti-aircraft warfare armament), again representing a fleet-defense operational concept, in distinction to the Western emphasis on shore-strike missions from distant deployment. A second carrier (pre-commissioning name Varyag) was under construction when the Soviet Union disintegrated. Construction stopped and the ship was sold, incomplete, to China by Ukraine.
Soon after the launch of this second Kuznetsov-class ship, the Soviet Navy began the construction of an improved aircraft carrier design, , which was to have been slightly larger than the Kuznetsov class and nuclear-powered. The project was terminated, and what little structure had been initiated in the building ways was scrapped.

In part to perform the functions usual to carrier-borne aircraft, the Soviet Navy deployed large numbers of strategic bomber
Strategic bomber
A strategic bomber is a heavy bomber aircraft designed to drop large amounts of ordnance onto a distant target for the purposes of debilitating an enemy's capacity to wage war. Unlike tactical bombers, which are used in the battle zone to attack troops and military equipment, strategic bombers are...

s in a maritime role, with the Aviatsiya Voenno-Morskogo Flota
Soviet Naval Aviation
Soviet Naval Aviation was a part of the Soviet Navy.- Origins :...

(AV-MF, or Naval Aviation service). Strategic bombers like the Tupolev
Tupolev
Tupolev is a Russian aerospace and defence company, headquartered in Basmanny District, Central Administrative Okrug, Moscow. Known officially as Public Stock Company Tupolev, it is the successor of the Tupolev OKB or Tupolev Design Bureau headed by the Soviet aerospace engineer A.N. Tupolev...

 Tu-16 'Badger'
Tupolev Tu-16
The Tupolev Tu-16 was a twin-engine jet bomber used by the Soviet Union. It has flown for more than 50 years, and the Chinese license-built Xian H-6 remains in service with the Chinese air force.-Development:...

 and Tu-22M 'Backfire'
Tupolev Tu-22M
The Tupolev Tu-22M is a supersonic, swing-wing, long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber developed by the Soviet Union. Significant numbers remain in service with the Russian Air Force....

 were deployed with high-speed anti-shipping missiles. The primary role of these aircraft was the interception of NATO supply convoy
Convoy
A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.-Age of Sail:Naval...

s traveling the sea lines of communication
Sea lines of communication
Sea lines of communication is a term describing the primary maritime routes between ports, used for trade, logistics and naval forces...

 between Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, and thus countering Operation REFORGER
Exercise REFORGER
Exercise Reforger was an annual exercise conducted, during the Cold War, by NATO. The exercise was intended to ensure that NATO had the ability to quickly deploy forces to West Germany in the event of a conflict with the Warsaw Pact.The Reforger exercise itself was first conceived in 1967...

.

Submarines

Due to the USSR's geographic position, submarines were considered the capital ships of the Navy. It was submarines that could penetrate attempts at blockade, either in the constrained waters of the Baltic and Black Seas or in the remote reaches of the USSR's western Arctic. Surface ships clearly were much easier to find and attack. The USSR had entered WWII with more submarines than Germany, but geography and the speed of the German attack precluded it from effectively using its more numerous fleet to advantage. Because of its opinion that "quantity had a quality of its own" and the insistence of Fleet Admiral Gorshkov
Sergey Gorshkov
Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Sergey Georgiyevich Gorshkov was a Soviet naval officer during the Cold War who oversaw the expansion of the Soviet Navy into a global force....

, the Soviet Navy continued to operate many first-generation missile submarines, built in the early 1960s, until the end of the Cold War in 1991.

In some respects, including speed and reactor technology, Soviet submarines achieved unique successes, but for most of the era lagged their Western counterparts in overall capability. In addition to their relatively high speeds and great operating depths they were difficult Anti-submarine warfare
Anti-submarine warfare
Anti-submarine warfare is a branch of naval warfare that uses surface warships, aircraft, or other submarines to find, track and deter, damage or destroy enemy submarines....

 (ASW) targets to destroy because of their multiple compartments, their large reserve buoyancy, and especially their double-hulled design. Their principal shortcomings were insufficient noise damping (American boats were quieter) and primitive sonar
Sonar
Sonar is a technique that uses sound propagation to navigate, communicate with or detect other vessels...

 technology. Acoustics was a particularly interesting type of information that the Soviets sought about the West's submarine-production methods, and the long-active John Anthony Walker
John Anthony Walker
John Anthony Walker, Jr. is a former United States Navy Chief Warrant Officer and communications specialist convicted of spying for the Soviet Union from 1968 to 1985, at the height of the Cold War...

 spy ring may have made a major contribution to their knowledge of such.

The Soviet Navy possessed numerous purpose-built guided missile submarines, such as the Oscar class
Oscar class submarine
The Project 949 and Project 949A Soviet Navy/Russian Navy cruise missile submarines ....

, as well as many ballistic missile
Ballistic missile
A ballistic missile is a missile that follows a sub-orbital ballistic flightpath with the objective of delivering one or more warheads to a predetermined target. The missile is only guided during the relatively brief initial powered phase of flight and its course is subsequently governed by the...

 and attack submarines; their Typhoon-class boats are the world's largest submarines. The Soviet attack-submarine force was, like the rest of the Navy, designed for interception of NATO convoys, but also targeted American aircraft-carrier battle group
Carrier battle group
A carrier battle group consists of an aircraft carrier and its escorts, together composing the group. The first naval task forces built around carriers appeared just prior to and during World War II. The Imperial Japanese Navy was the first to assemble a large number of carriers into a single...

s.

Over the years Soviet submarines suffered a number of accidents, most notably on several nuclear boats. The most famous incidents include the Yankee-class K-219
Soviet submarine K-219
K-219 was a Navaga-class ballistic missile submarine of the Soviet Navy. She carried 16 SS-N-6 liquid-fuel missiles powered by UDMH with IRFNA, equipped with an estimated 34 nuclear warheads....

, and the Mike-class Komsomolets, both lost to fire, and the far more menacing nuclear reactor leak on the Hotel-class K-19
Soviet submarine K-19
K-19, KS-19, BS_19 was one of the first two Soviet submarines of the 658, 658м, 658с class , the first generation nuclear submarine equipped with nuclear ballistic missiles, specifically the R-13 . Its keel was laid down on 17 October 1958, christened on 8 April 1959 and launched on 11 October 1959...

, narrowly averted by her captain
Nikolai Vladimirovich Zateyev
Nikolai Vladimirovich Zateyev was a Russian submariner and a Captain First Rank in the Soviet Navy, notable as the commander of the ill-fated Soviet submarine K-19 in July 1961 during the Hotel class submarine's nuclear-reactor coolant leak. Zateyev and the actions of his crew managed to avert...

. Inadequate nuclear safety
Nuclear safety
Nuclear safety covers the actions taken to prevent nuclear and radiation accidents or to limit their consequences. This covers nuclear power plants as well as all other nuclear facilities, the transportation of nuclear materials, and the use and storage of nuclear materials for medical, power,...

, poor damage control, and quality-control issues during construction (particularly on the earlier submarines) were typical causes of accidents. On several occasions there were alleged collisions with American submarines. None of these, however, has been confirmed officially by the U.S. Navy, which maintains a policy of secrecy regarding nuclear incidents.

Transition

After the dissolution of the USSR and the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Navy, like other branches of Armed Forces, eventually lost some of its units to former Soviet Republics, and was left without funding. The Black Sea Fleet
Black Sea Fleet
The Black Sea Fleet is a large operational-strategic sub-unit of the Russian Navy, operating in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea since the late 18th century. It is based in various harbors of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov....

 in particular spent several years in reserve, until 1997 when an agreement that ceded some of its ships to Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 was made.

Commanders of Naval Forces of the RSFSR ("KoMorSi")

  • Vasili Mikhailovich Altfater (15 October 1918 – 22 April 1919),
  • Yevgeny Andreyevich Berens
    Yevgeniy Berens
    Yevgeny Andreyevich Berens was a Russian military leader, Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Naval Forces from April 1919 to February 1920.Berens graduated from the Naval Cadet Corps in 1895. He was navigating officer of the Russian cruiser Varyag and fought in the Battle of Chemulpo Bay when his...

     (24 April 1919 – 5 February 1920),
  • Aleksandr Vasiliyevich Nemits
    Aleksandr Nemits
    Aleksandr Vasilivich Nemits, was a Russian and Soviet Naval Officer. He was commander of the Soviet Navy between February 1920 and November 1921....

     (5 February 1920 – 22 November 1921).

Commanders-in-Chief of the Naval Forces of the U.S.S.R. ("NaMorSi") (from 1 January 1924)

  • Eduard Samoilovich Pantserzhansky
    Eduard Pantserzhanskiy
    Eduard Samuilovich Pantserzhanskiy was a Russian military leader, Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Naval Forces from December 1921 to December 1924....

     (22 December 1921 – 9 December 1924),
  • Vyacheslav Ivanovich Zof (9 December 1924 – 23 August 1926),
  • Romuald Adamovich Muklevich
    Romuald Muklevich
    Romuald Adamovich Muklevich was a Russian military figure and Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Naval Forces from August 1926 to July 1931....

     (23 August 1926 – 11 June 1931),
  • Fleet Flag-officer 1st Rank Vladimir Mitrofanovich Orlov
    Vladimir Mitrofanovich Orlov
    Vladimir Mitrofanovich Orlov was a Russian military leader and Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Naval Forces from July 1931 to July 1937....

     (11 June 1931 – 15 August 1937),
  • Fleet Flag-officer 1st Rank Mikhail Vladimirovich Viktorov
    Mikhail Viktorov
    Mikhail Vladimirovich Viktorov was a Russian military leader and Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Naval Forces from August 1937 to January 1938....

     (15 August 1937 – 30 December 1937).

People's Commissars for the U.S.S.R. Navy ("NarKom VMF USSR") (from 1938)

  • Army Commissar 1st Rank Pyotr Alexandrovich Smirnov
    Pyotr Alexandrovich Smirnov
    Pyotr Alexandrovich Smirnov was a Soviet Commissar, Deputy Minister of Defence and Commander of the Soviet Navy.Smirnov was born in a workers family in a village near Vyatka in 1897. He finished school and worked as a smith in a lumber factory from 1913. He joined the Bolsheviks in 1917 and was a...

     (30 December 1937 – 5 November 1938),
  • Army Commander 1st Rank Mikhail Petrovich Frinovsky (5 November 1938 – 20 March 1939),
  • Admiral Nikolai Gerasimovich Kuznetsov
    Nikolai Gerasimovich Kuznetsov
    Nikolay Gerasimovich Kuznetsov was a Soviet naval officer who achieved the rank of Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union and served as People's Commissar of the Navy during The Second World War....

     (from 27 April 1939).

Commanders-in-Chief of the Soviet Navy ("GlavKom VMF") (from 1943)

  • Fleet Admiral Nikolai Gerasimovich Kuznetsov
    Nikolai Gerasimovich Kuznetsov
    Nikolay Gerasimovich Kuznetsov was a Soviet naval officer who achieved the rank of Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union and served as People's Commissar of the Navy during The Second World War....

     (to January 1947),
  • Admiral Ivan Stepanovich Yumashev (17 January 1947 – July 1951),
  • Fleet Admiral of the Soviet Union Nikolai Gerasimovich Kuznetsov (20 July 1951 – 5 January 1956), second term,
  • Fleet Admiral of the Soviet Union Sergey Georgyevich Gorshkov
    Sergey Gorshkov
    Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Sergey Georgiyevich Gorshkov was a Soviet naval officer during the Cold War who oversaw the expansion of the Soviet Navy into a global force....

     (5 January 1956 – 8 December 1985), considered the officer most responsible for reforming the Soviet Navy,
  • Fleet Admiral Vladimir Nikolayevich Chernavin
    Vladimir Chernavin
    Fleet Admiral Vladimir Nikolayevich Chernavin was the last Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Navy 1985-91 and the first Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy 1991-92.-Biography:...

     (8 December 1985 – December 1991; CIS Navy through August 1992).

See also


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK