Soviet Navy

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Soviet Navy
Военно-Морской Флот СССР

1938 CPA 590.jpg

Special stamp - 20 years of the Red Army (Navy)
active 1918 to December 21, 1991
Country Soviet UnionSoviet Union Soviet Union
Armed forces Armed Forces of the Soviet Union
Type Armed forces
structure Northern Fleet

Pacific Fleet

Black Sea Fleet

Baltic Fleet
Mediterranean Eskadra

Tradition Russian Navy
Flag of the Soviet Navy Naval Ensign of the Soviet Union (1950–1991) .svg
Jack of the Soviet Navy Naval Jack of the Soviet Union.svg

The Soviet Navy ( Russian Военно-Морской Флот СССР Wojenno-Morskoij flot SSSR ) was a branch of the armed forces of the Soviet Union . Other names were Red Fleet , Red Peasant and Worker Fleet (KKRF) or Naval War Fleet of the USSR .


Main article: Imperial Russian Navy

The Russian Empire did not have a strong maritime tradition, at least not comparable to the British Royal Navy or the French Navy . Due to its geographical location in particular, Russia had few cheap access to the high seas , which are also often blocked by ice for seasonal reasons. In addition, given Russia's size and central location in Eurasia, overseas trade was of little importance compared to land connections and a large navy to protect overseas trade was therefore unnecessary.

Foundation and interwar period

The Aurora was unofficially the first Soviet warship after the crew mutinied against Imperial Russia in 1917 .

The Soviet Navy was created in 1917 from the remnants of the Imperial Russian Navy. Many ships continued to serve after the October Revolution , albeit under different names. In fact, the rebellious Imperial Russian armored deck cruiser Aurora can be seen as the first ship of the Soviet Navy , whose crew defected to the Bolsheviks . An earlier Bolshevik uprising occurred in 1905 on the ship of the line Knjas Potjomkin Tawritscheski (Потёмкин).

The Soviet Navy, when referred to as the Red Workers and Peasants Fleet (Russian: "Рабоче-Крестьянский Красный Флот" (РККФ) or Rabochye-Krest'janskij Krasnij Flot, RKKF) existed in the interwar period of decay. In terms of heavy units, she only owned a few outdated Gangut- class battleships . With much of the state's attention turned inward, the Navy saw no point in maintenance or training. A telling sign of the perceived inadequate threat potential of the Navy was that the Soviet Union was not invited to participate in the Washington Naval Agreement , which was supposed to limit the size and capacities of the most powerful naval forces. It was only in the course of the third five-year plan (1938–1942) that an extensive rearmament program was launched and a separate People's Commissariat for military and marine affairs was set up. The construction of four battleships of the Soviet-Soyuz-class began, but their completion was prevented by the beginning of the German-Soviet War in 1941.

Second World War

During the Winter War (which was largely a preliminary skirmish to the Great Patriotic War ) there were minor actions in the Baltic Sea , mainly artillery duels between Finnish forts and Soviet cruisers and battleships.

As Hitler that Operation Barbarossa was launched in 1941, the Soviet leadership began to realize that a Marine was nevertheless important. Large parts of the Soviet Navy in World War II consisted of ex- US Navy - lend-lease - destroyers . They were a dangerous opponent for the German Navy submarines when defending Soviet convoys . In the early phase of the war, a large part of the Red Fleet in the Baltic Sea was enclosed by Finnish and German minefields , particularly by the so-called Juminda and Apolda barriers, in Leningrad and Kronstadt from 1941 to 1944. In addition, strong German air strikes prevented an escape from the narrow Gulf of Bothnia . Some units survived in the Black Sea , where they participated in the defense of Sevastopol during the siege .

Yankee I-class missile submarine, circa 1971
Moskva- class flight deck
cruiser , 1985
Kiev- class aircraft carrier , 1986
Kirov- class nuclear
cruiser , 1992

Cold War

Soviet naval bases and anchor rights 1984

After the war, Stalin decided that the Soviet Union must under all circumstances be able to compete with the West. An armaments program was launched in order to at least quantitatively catch up with the West. An important part of the maritime armament of the Soviet Union was the construction of submarines , which were technically based on German Kriegsmarine models. A large number of these boats were launched every year in the post-war period. Later, the Soviet Union gradually improved its submarines by combining the latest research results of its own and technology adopted by Nazi Germany and the Western nations in the course of reparations , but lagged a generation behind the NATO countries in some aspects, especially in terms of sound camouflage and sonar technology.

A fundamental reorientation of the Soviet Navy occurred under Admiral Sergei G. Gorschkow , who in 1956 replaced Nikolai G. Kuznetsov as Commander in Chief . Stalin died in 1953; his successor Khrushchev changed his naval policy massively.

In Gorshkov's era, the Soviet fleet oriented itself with extraordinary efforts and an enormous advance in armament to achieve equality with the US Navy and to have a worldwide presence on the oceans.

The Soviet Navy rushed to equip its surface fleet with missiles of various types. Indeed, it became a hallmark of Soviet design to deploy heavy missiles on relatively small ships - and fast rocket boats - while in the West such a move was not considered tactically feasible. The Soviet Navy also owned some very large guided missile cruisers with enormous firepower, such as the nuclear cruisers of the Kirov class and the conventionally powered cruisers of the Slava class , which are derived from the Kirov class .

1968 and 1969 appeared the Soviet aircraft cruiser Moskva and Leningrad of the Moskva class , followed by the first of four aircraft carriers of the Kiev class in 1973. The Soviet military leadership tried with the great American super aircraft carriers compete by the project Orel was in order. This was deleted on the drawing board due to changed priorities. In the 1980s, the Soviet Navy built its first real aircraft carrier, the Tbilisi (later renamed Admiral Kuznetsov ). In contrast to aircraft carriers in other countries, the Kiev- class and the Admiral Kuznetsov had their own offensive missiles. In the second half of the 1980s, the Soviet Union tried again to build a super aircraft carrier, the Ulyanovsk . The ship was almost finished when the Cold War came to an end and was then scrapped.

Despite these successes, the Soviet Navy never owned a large fleet of aircraft carriers like the US Navy, whereas it was the only one to use a large number of strategic bombers from the Aviazija wojenno-morskogo flota (AW-MF) in a maritime role. The Tupolev bombers such as the Tupolev Tu-16 and the Tupolev Tu-22M were equipped with high-speed anti - ship missiles . The main role of these planes was to intercept the NATO supply convoys that were sailing from North America to Europe as part of Operation REFORGER .

The large Soviet fleet of attack submarines had the same function, but also targeted the American aircraft carrier battle groups. In addition, the Soviet Navy also owned numerous guided missile submarines such as the Oscar-class and a variety of ballistic missile submarines , including the largest submarines in the world, the Typhoon-class .

The Soviet Navy had safety problems during operation, especially with nuclear-powered ships that started with the first nuclear-powered submarine, the K-3 Leninsky Komsomol and the November class established by this boat . She had several incidents involving her nuclear submarines during the Cold War . Among them were well-known ones like the K-219 and the K-278 Komsomolez , which were lost in fire; also a nuclear leak at K-19 , from which several crew members died ( see also feature film: K-19 - Showdown in the Deep ). Inadequate Soviet nuclear safety and damage control techniques were usually to blame. The Soviet side, on the other hand, often blamed collisions with US submarines; Allegations that may contain real truth. This is likely to remain unclear as the US Navy does not talk about accidents as long as there have been no deaths or nuclear incidents. Even so, at the end of the Cold War in 1991, many first-generation submarines were still in service with the Soviet Navy. The reason for this was that the Soviet submarines had a lower targeting precision of their missiles and it was also noticed that many of them were being shadowed by quieter western attack submarines, which they would have eliminated at an early stage of a possible conflict. This forced the Soviet army command to adhere to the philosophy of "security through numbers".

After the collapse of the Soviet Union , the Soviet Navy disappeared again into insignificance and was divided between the maritime successor states of the former Soviet republics (Russia, Ukraine, Baltic States). In particular, the Black Sea Fleet spent several years in an unclear state before Russia and Ukraine reached an agreement. This was signed on May 28, 1997.



The Soviet Navy was divided into several main fleets: the Northern Fleet , the Pacific Fleet , the Black Sea Fleet and the Baltic Fleet and a permanent naval formation in the Mediterranean , the 5th Squadron . The Caspian Flotilla was a semi-independent formation that was administratively under the command of the Black Sea Fleet, while the Indian Squadron was under that of the Pacific Fleet and received its units from there. Other parts included the naval forces , marine infantry, and coastal artillery . After the end of the Cold War , the Soviet Navy was reformed as the Russian Navy .

Commander-in-chief of the Soviet naval fleet

RSFSR naval war fleet

Naval Navy of the USSR

Vladimir Chernavin, 2013

See also


Web links

Commons : Soviet Navy  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. The Soviet Fleet . In: Der Spiegel . No. 26 , 1969 ( online ). “Khrushchev canceled the aircraft carriers ('floating cemeteries'), almost completely stopped building cruisers ('worthless scrap heaps') and instead had speedboats, minesweepers and modern submarines laid down on the keel. 'The main task of the navy', according to […] the Kremlin in 1957, has been and will continue to be cooperation with the Soviet army . ' [...] "
  2. Winfried Schneider-Deters: The Ukraine: Power Vacuum Between Russia and the European Union . Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, 2012, ISBN 978-3-8305-3116-6 , p. 61