Northern Fleet

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Northern Fleet

Great emblem of the Northern Fleet.svg

Association badge
Lineup 1933 (1916)
Country Soviet Union 1955Soviet Union Soviet Union (1933–1991) Russia (since 1991)
Armed forces Russian armed forces
Armed forces Russian Navy
Type fleet
headquarters Severomorsk
Awards Order of the Red Banner
commander Vice Admiral Moiseyev
The Admiral Ushakow (ex "Kirow") and the Marshal Ustinow in Severomorsk (1992)

The Northern Fleet , Northern Sea Fleet or Red Banner Northern Fleet ( Russian Северный флот Severnij flot ) is the name of the part of the Soviet Navy established in 1933 that was stationed beyond the Arctic Circle , as well as the Russian successor association.


The preparation

During the First World War , Russia faced the problem of securing the transport routes used by Russian and British ships in the Barents Sea against submarines of the German Imperial Navy . That is why the polar sea flotilla was created on June 19, 1916. After the October Revolution , the White Sea Flotilla of the Red Fleet was in Arkhangelsk from March 1920 . It was later renamed the North Sea Naval Forces and disbanded in January 1923.

The Northern Fleet was created around June 1, 1933. For the reconstruction, the Soviet Navy transferred a number of ships from the Baltic Sea to the north via the White Sea-Baltic Canal between May and September 1933 . These consisted of three destroyers of Novik-class , three patrol boats of the Uragan class and three submarines Decembrist class. On the morning of July 21, they arrived in Soroka and were surprisingly greeted by Josef Stalin , Kliment Voroshilov and Sergei Kirov on the steamer Anochin. According to the commander of the submarine forces of the Northern Fleet, Ivan A. Kolyshkin, the canal was built especially for this purpose, as the Western European countries did not allow Soviet naval forces to pass through the Baltic Sea. The laying took place in 2 operations and began while the canal was still being built. The first group consisting of 2 destroyers, 2 patrol boats and 2 submarines left Kronstadt on May 18, 1933 and reached Murmansk on August 5. The second group, consisting of 1 destroyer, 1 patrol boat, 1 submarine and 2 minesweepers , reached the port of Soroka on the White Sea in September 1933. They formed the Northern Flotilla (Commander Sachar Sakupnew, replaced by Konstantin Duschenow in March 1935). Polyarny became the main base of the flotilla in 1935 . The first group of planes for the flotilla came to Murmansk in September 1935. On May 11, 1937, the Northern Flotilla was renamed the Northern Fleet. By this time the Soviet Navy had already organized coastal and anti-aircraft guns , built airfields and received new ships.

During the winter war of 1939-1940, the ships of the Northern Fleet blocked the Finnish military base in Petsamo . In June 1941 the Northern Fleet already owned 8 destroyers, 15 submarines, 2 torpedo boats , 7 patrol boats, 2 minesweepers and 116 aircraft. In August 1940 the Soviet Navy established the White Sea Base with the intention of protecting the coastline, bases, ports and other facilities; it was renamed the White Sea Flotilla a year later. (Commanders: Rear Admiral M. Dolinin (since August 1941), Vice Admiral G. Stepanow (since October) and, finally, Rear Admiral Stepan Kutscherow and Vice Admiral Yuri Panteleev.)

The Northern Fleet in World War II

During the Great Patriotic War from 1941 to 1945, the Northern Fleet defended the coastlines of the Rybachy and Sredny peninsulas , secured external and internal transport routes, provided support to the maritime flank of the 14th Army , raised marine infantry and participated in the Petsamo-Kirkenes operation of 1944. Up to 10,000 men of the Northern Fleet fought ashore.

During the war, the Northern Fleet was reinforced with aircraft and ships from the Pacific and Caspian Seas . In the Second World War after Italy's surrender, the Northern Fleet did not receive any ships from the Regia Marina , but rather a number of Western Allied ships, such as the HMS Royal Sovereign or USS Milwaukee , which gave the Soviet fleet access to modern western equipment, especially radar .

During the war, the Northern Fleet secured the passage for 1463 units of the northern sea convoys and 2568 units of the inland convoys. Their submarines, torpedo boats and air forces sank 192 enemy transport ships and 70 warships. In addition, the Northern Fleet damaged 118 transport, war and auxiliary ships.

The Northern Fleet in the Cold War

After the Second World War , the NATO countries initially had very weak naval forces in the Baltic Sea area. The Soviet Navy could assume that it would be able to quickly gain free access to the world's oceans from its traditional main base in the Baltic Sea. The situation only changed with the German rearmament in 1956. Soon NATO forces - primarily the German Federal Navy together with the Danish Navy - were in considerable strength ready to defend the Baltic Sea exits. This meant that the Soviet Navy could no longer easily penetrate the North Atlantic with submarines and other forces from the Baltic Sea and attack the NATO sea connections there.

Therefore the bases in the North Sea were expanded. With the port of Murmansk and a few nearby facilities, ice-free bases were available there all year round, from which one could penetrate into the North Atlantic. Around the same time, from the late 1950s, the Soviet Navy began building its nuclear submarine fleet. These boats, built primarily at the Sevmasch shipyard in Severodvinsk, also had to have secure access to the open oceans. The Soviet Union allocated most of its strategic submarines to the Northern Fleet.

The Northern Fleet thus became the most important of the four Soviet fleets . The strategic nuclear submarines formed the maritime part of the Soviet nuclear triad . Nuclear-powered fighter submarines of the Northern Fleet were intended for use in the Atlantic and were intended to attack carrier groups of the US Navy , the 7th Squadron constantly accompanied the 2nd Fleet of the US Navy with surface forces. Their surface forces, cruisers and destroyers, and later individual aircraft carriers , served primarily to protect the base region and the submarines. With the amphibious forces, attacks against NATO areas would have been possible, especially at close range.

Relocating the main power of the Soviet Navy to the Arctic Ocean was a major strategic move. As a result, NATO was forced to set up strong naval forces to secure its sea routes in order not to be cut off from reinforcements and supplies from North America in the event of war. On the other hand, it was also very expensive for the Soviet Union to build and maintain the base of the largest Soviet fleet under extreme weather conditions and at a great distance from its own industry. The service was associated with great hardship for the soldiers and their families, and the willingness to voluntarily extend the service time is not said to have been very great.

Today's importance of the Northern Fleet

The K-535 ( Juri Dolgoruki ) of the Borei class on test drive (2010)

The Northern Fleet continues to be of great strategic importance for Russia. One of its most important ports is still Sapadnaya Liza near the Norwegian border on the Kola peninsula . After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the independence of its republics, Russia nevertheless tried to regain the status of a military power on a par with the USA. With the strategic nuclear submarines, the Northern Fleet has a substantial part of the Russian nuclear potential, especially the second strike capacity . As in the past, the main task of the Northern Fleet's other naval means of warfare is primarily to protect this potential.

Commanders of the Northern Fleet

Surname Period
Konstantin Ivanovich Duschenow May 1937 – May 1938
Valentin Petrovich Drosd May 1938 – September 1940
Arseni Grigoryevich Golovko September 1940 – August 1946
Wasili Ivanovich Platonov August 1946 – April 1952
Andrei Trofimowitsch Tschabanenko April 1952 – February 1962
Vladimir Afanassievich Kassatonov February 1962 – May 1964
Semyon Mikhailovich Lobov May 1964 – March 1972
Georgi Mikhailovich Yegorov March 1972 – July 1977
Vladimir Nikolayevich Chernavin July 1977 – December 1981
Arkady Petrovich Mikhailovsky December 1981 – February 1985
Ivan Matveevich Kapitanez February 1985-March 1988
Felix Nikolajewitsch Gromow March 1988-March 1992
Oleg Alexandrovich Erofeev March 1992 – January 1999
Vyacheslav Alekseevich Popov January 1999 – December 2001
Gennady Alexandrovich Suchkov December 2001 – May 2004
Mikhail Leopoldowitsch Abramow May 2004 – September 2005
Vladimir Sergeyevich Vysotsky September 2005 – September 2007
Nikolai Mikhailovich Maximov November 2007 – March 2011
Andrei Olgertowitsch Woloschinsky March 2011 – June 2011
Vladimir Ivanovich Korolev June 2011 – April 2016
Nikolai Anatolyevich Yevmenov April 2016 – May 2019
Alexander Alexejewitsch Moissejew May 2019–


Northern Fleet bases

In addition to the main base in Severomorsk, the Northern Fleet has six additional bases and shipyards , with the base near Murmansk being one of the largest and best known.

Bases (among others)


Activities and problems

Successes and first achievements

In September 1955, the Soviet Navy was the first to launch a ballistic missile from a submarine. The first Soviet submarine (B-67) with ballistic missiles on board entered service with the Northern Fleet in June 1956. On July 3, 1958, the first Soviet nuclear submarine K-3 Leninski Komsomol ( November class ) was put into service with the Northern Fleet. After passing under the Arctic ice, it reached the North Pole in 1962 and hoisted the Soviet flag and naval pennant (the North Pole was crossed under by the USS Nautilus as early as 1958 ). Soviet submarines have since visited the northern polar region more than 300 times.

In September 1963, two nuclear submarines of the Northern Fleet made a journey under the Arctic Ice Cap , thus reaching the Pacific Fleet for the first time in history. More than 25 Soviet submarines repeated this adventure in the following years. In 1966, a submarine unit of the Northern Fleet carried out a group tour around the world, covering a total of about 25,000 nautical miles .


Two air force regiments, one anti-submarine squadron, eight submarines and destroyers were elevated to the status of the Soviet Guard for their skillful use . Many formations, units and ships were awarded medals. More than 48,000 men were awarded orders and medals. 85 sailors of the Northern Fleet received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union (three of them twice). On May 7, 1965, the Northern Fleet was awarded the Order of the Red Banner .


In particular, the submarines of the Northern Fleet have suffered some serious accidents and losses, including

  • Nuclear submarine K-219 , October 6, 1986
  • Nuclear submarine K-278 Komsomolets , April 7, 1989
  • Nuclear submarine K-141 Kursk , August 12, 2000
  • Nuclear submarine K-159 , August 30, 2003
  • Nuclear submarine AS-12 , July 1, 2019

Atom problem

The handling of decommissioned nuclear submarines and their reactors is a particular cause for concern. Germany supports the safe disposal of these contaminated sites within the framework of an agreement concluded in 2003 with € 300 million. It is known, however, that a large number of reactors have already been sunk in the North Sea. The ecological consequences cannot be foreseen.

According to a report by RIA Novosti in November 2006, 145 of the decommissioned nuclear submarines from Soviet times have now been scrapped. In a two billion dollar disarmament program, Russia is being supported in cooperation with the USA, Great Britain, Canada, Japan, Italy and Norway.

See also

Web links

Commons : Nordflotte  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Jürgen Rohwer , Mikhail Monakov: Stalin's Ocean-going Fleet: Soviet Naval Strategy and Shipbuilding Programs 1935-1953 . New York 2001, p. 31.
  2. Ivan A. Kolyshkin: In the depths of the North Sea . Berlin 1982, p. 90 f. Video of the scene
  3. Kolyshkin, p. 86.
  4. Kolyshkin, pp. 85 ff.
  5. Назначены новые командующие Северным и Черноморским флотами, accessed June 24, 2011.
  6. Минобороны сообщило о новом командующем Северным флотом., April 7, 2016, accessed April 8, 2016 (Russian).