Naval power Russia (part 1)

Gerald Böhm/Matthias Wasinger


Especially in the beginning of the Second World War, Soviet operational command and control was essentially influenced by the loss of information and confidence triggered by Stalin’s capacious purges. In the course of this measure the system got rid of a multitude of co-called “subversives”. In this context it is especially mentionable that accurately in the naval forces, which had only a subordinate role, the entire command and control was replaced. Obviously the own history had taught that especially the navy was very open to revolutionary ideas. Despite this obvious debilitation in all areas of the armed forces, the Soviet Union bore the brunt of all operations in the Second World War for years. The best present the Russians gave to the Allies was the gain of time without which Great Britain would not have been able to heal the wounds inflicted at Dunkirk, and without which the USA would not have been able to bring their arms production to full blast and to upgrade their land and sea forces. Embedded in experiences from history, based upon a chain of command just disordered, and confronted with the geo-strategic challenges, above all the political management tried to represent the position of a superpower in the war as well, by the quantitative growth of the Soviet naval forces. In all the superpowers of that time, the signs of the time indicated large fighting vessels for implementing the Mahan Doctrine of the decisive battle. Reality, however, was to outpace all this. With the so-called raid of the German Wehrmacht on the USSR in 1941 the naval forces were taken by surprise as well. Although in the course of the first attacks on Soviet navy bases by the German air force not a single ship could be sunk, the rapid thrust of the German Wehrmacht soon prevented the relocating of small ship units on the inland waters. Due to the climate, the redeployment of forces across the Pacific Ocean was feasible only during a few months a year. Because of the successful German thrust into present Ukraine and the surrounding of Leningrad, both the Baltic Sea fleet and the Black Sea fleet were cut off. On the open sea, German and Finnish naval mines in the Baltic Sea, as well as specialised mine laying and torpedo aeroplanes, together with naval bombers - after redeployment from the Mediterranean Sea – in the Black Sea, isolated the respective Soviet fleets. The objective of “projecting power” by means of large fighting vessels had thus been foiled. Immediately after the beginning of the war, the Soviet naval forces had largely been isolated. From a Russian point of view, only the temporal and spatial limitations of command and control remained, as an interoperation of the fleets, especially in the fighting of fleet against fleet, had thus been prevented. And this was practised very successfully. The Soviet Union had been strategically oriented towards fighting against the German Reich only. Only in 1945, after the German Reich had capitulated, the Red Army invaded Manchuria.