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Workers' and Peasants' Red Fleet - October 1917

The Soviet Armed Forces were established by the Communist Party to protect the gains of the Great October Socialist Revolution against the encroachments of international imperialism and internal counterrevolution. Construction of the Armed Forces of the Soviet state was under the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, headed by Lenin. Paying attention to reliable defense of the Soviet state not only on land but at sea, the party attached great importance to the construction of the Workers 'and Peasants' Red Fleet.

Military sailors had actively participated in revolutionary movements. In December 1825 the sailors Guards, headed by Captain-Lieutenant Nikolai Bestuzhev took to the Senate Square. In the history of the First Russian Revolution are inscribed the names of the rebel ship - Battleship Potemkin, a mine-layer "Prut", cruisers Ochakov" and "Memory of Azov, the destroyer quickly.

On the eve of the Great October Socialist Revolution and the Bolsheviks Tsentrobalt Tsentroflot through their organization on ships and in parts of the naval forces of the Gulf of Riga led the defense Moonzund. Revolutionary sailors of the Baltic Fleet gave a decisive rebuff to the German's numerically superior fleet and inflicted heavy losses. The death threat to revolutionary Petrograd was reflected.

During the October armed uprising 2nd Baltic and the Guards perform combat missions of the Military Revolutionary Committee of the Petrograd Soviet. October 25 (November 7) in Petrograd to take part in an armed uprising came 11 warships, thousands of sailors Balts. A shot of the cruiser Aurora (1) heralded the beginning of a new era in human history - the era of the collapse of capitalism and the birth of a new socialist system.

October marked the beginning of the history of the Soviet Navy. January 29 (11 February), 1918, Lenin after the decree on the organization of the Workers 'and Peasants' Red Army, signed the Decree of the Council of People's Commissars on the establishment of the Socialist Workers 'and Peasants' Red Fleet.

By 1917 the fleet in the Baltic Sea was locked in the Gulf. The Black Sea Fleet simply had nothing to keep up with the German cruisers. In addition, the Baltic Germans until the summer of 1917 did not take any active steps, and entered the Gulf of Riga only when the Russian army was spreading propaganda, and retreated in chaos, leaving the Baltic. The same fate befell the fleet. That sailors refused to put themselves in the way of the German minefields, the batteries Cape Tserel refused to fire, and crews ran at the first volley of German battleships.

Bolsheviks found their slogans were on fertile ground. Having made a coup in October, they seized power in 1917. Having not fulfilled any of their promises, the unleashed terror in the country. And then came the Civil War. The army was demoralized to such an extent that the soldiers, threw down their weapons, and fled to their homes. The Germans seized the western part of the country, moving literally marching formation, almost without firing a shot. The Bolsheviks had to make peace. The Brest fleet contract was to remain in the home bases. That was at the beginning of 1918 - in Helsingfors and Sevastopol. Both bases were hosting the Germans.

In the Spring of 1918 Germans troops launched an offensive in Pskov, Narva and Gdov, raised his head Whites in Finland. There was a threat to seize the fleet. In February - May 1918, in an extremely difficult political situation, the heroic sailors of the Baltic made the Ice Cruise - ships were transferred from Helsingfors, Kotka Kronstadt and Vyborg in the Gulf of Finland through the ice. The saved ships served as the basis for the establishment of the Workers 'and Peasants' Red Fleet and the numerous river and lake flotillas, which during the Civil War had a strong support to ground troops in defeating the White Army and interventionists. In addition, more than 75 thousand sailors were fighting then in the Red Army, showing examples of valor and heroism.

In the Baltic Sea, Admiral Shchastny found that the Bolsheviks did not listen, and took all the ships that could move to Kronstadt, thus causing the anger of Lenin. In the Black Sea, Admiral Sablin withdrew the fleet in Novorossiysk. F.F.Raskolnikov was sent, and as a result of his intense activity among navy service members, half the ship's crew, not wanting to give the Germans, had flooded teh ships, and the other half returned to Sevastopol. After the surrender and withdrawal of the Germans from the Ukraine and the Crimea, after the Civil War, the remaining ships of the fleet had been evacuated from the Crimea White Army. Ultimately, the ships were in Bizerte, where they rotted. The Black Sea Fleet has practically ceased to exist.

The Bolsheviks struck another blow to the fleet in early 1921, against the rebels at Kronstadt with slogan "Soviets without Bolsheviks." The rebellion was subdued future Marshal Tukhachevsky. Of those who could not escape the ice in Finland, every second one was shot, and the rest were sent to the camps.

After the Civil War, the Party and people continued to care for the strengthening of defense of the country. In March 1921, X Congress of the RCP(b) adopted a decision aimed at reviving and strengthening the navy. In the spring of 1922, the Party's call for the Navy, came the first thousands of young communists, and on October 16 that year, V All-Russia Congress of the Young Communist League took patronage over the Navy. Since 1924 the military ships, continuing a long tradition of the Russian Navy, began to make long sea training cruises. By the foreign voyages "Aurora", "Komsomolets" and other ships, the world was convinced that the Workers 'and Peasants' Red Fleet was growing year by year.

Following the Revolution, all warship construction in Russia ceased, and indeed little work had been done since June 1917. The reports on the status of the former Russian Navy were many, and often conflicting and of doubtful authenticity; all such reports have been carefully collated, and reliance has been placed only upon those which seemed worthy of credence. It is believed that the conclusions thus formed are in general correct, but it is impossible to guarantee the accuracy of each detail of information herein set forth.

At the time of the October revolution, 1917, the Russian Navy was divided into four main forces, namely:

(1) The Baltic Fleet.

(2) The Black Sea Fleet.

(3) The Arctic and White Sea Squadron.

(4) The Pacific Squadron.

In addition to these principal forces, a flotilla of gunboats and special service vessels were operating independently (1) in the Danube River, and (2) in the Caspian Sea. A number of barges, river gunboats, and auxiliaries were formerly detailed for duty on the Danube River in connection with two naval brigades. All the vessels of this force were probably in the hands of the Germans. Two gunboats and four auxiliaries were formerly maintained on the Caspian Sea. No information is available as to the fate of these vessels.

(3) Arctic And White Sea Squadron

Battleship Chesma, guard ship, Kola Inlet; demobilized; care and maintenance party left. Cruiser Askold, at Murmansk, shortly to be commissioned with British personnel.

Destroyers Two of the White Sea destroyers were repairing at Liverpool; the remaining four were at Murmansk, each boat with a crew of six men. All four boats are in charge of one officer.

Submarines - One at Archangel, and one at Alexandrovsk.

Auxiliaries - A very considerable train of merchant cruisers, transports, and fleet auxiliaries was in the various White Sea and Murman ports.

Summary - All the White Sea and Arctic forces, although largely demobilized, were under allied and American control.

(4) Pacific Squadron

Destroyer flotilla - Twelve destroyers at Vladivostok were ordered demobilized by the Soviet Government, February 22, 1918, and in July, 1918, these boats were disarmed. Two destroyers of this flotilla are at Hongkong, as is the auxiliary cruiser Orel.

Auxiliaries - A number of minelayers and other auxiliaries formed part of this force, but no satisfactory information was available concerning them.

River gunboat - A flotilla of 28 gunboats was formerly maintained on the Amur River. It is known that most of these have had their engines and guns removed by the Bolsheviki, but no further reliable information is available.

Summary - From the foregoing, it would appear that the Pacific squadron can no longer be considered as a fighting force.

People's Commissariat of the Navy

On December 30, 1937, the People's Commissariat of the Navy was organized; prior to that time the Navy was a mere sub-section of the Red Army, forming a part of the Peoples Commissariat for Defense, together with the Red Army and Air Force. The People's Commissariat of the Navy trained navy personnel, administers the naval fleet, and naval bases, and land establishments of the nation. It was responsible for the training and administration of naval aviation, coast defense^ coast guard, and marine corps. The navy was responsible for all coastal and port defenses, including antiaircraft defense.

It shared with the People's Commissariats of Munitions and of the Shipbuilding Industry the responsibility for the construction of warships and naval bases. It was responsible for the distribution of naval supplies, although the procurement and production of these supplies is under the People's Commissariat of Munitions, which functioned in these matters under local naval inspectors. Naval war plans were the responsibility of the Soviet Naval Staff.

Prior to the outbreak of the Russo-German War, Soviet naval policy was dictated by the Politburo; decisions of this bureau were put into effect by the Supreme Naval Council. This council consisted of 11 members. It decided on questions regarding the disposition of the fleets, naval construction, naval aviation,, coast defense, coast guard, marine corps, and naval policies. Its membership included M.Zhdanov, Communist Party executive of Leningrad, the Commissar of the Navy, 4 Vice-Commissars, of whom 2 were political appointees, the Chief of the Naval Staff, and the 4 Chiefs of Naval Administration, i.e., armament, supplies, aviation, political. There was a subsidiary naval council attached to each fleet; they controlled all fleet activities within the district. In general, these subsidiary councils were composed of the 2 highest ranking naval political officers and the party secretary or executive of the district.

At the end of the Russian Civil War in 1922, the Soviet Government found that the outstanding majority of its naval officers had been inherited from the Imperial Regime, All officers who did not immediately fall in line with the new government were, of course, either exiled or shot. There were, however, a fairly large number of naval officers who were retained; they formed the nucleus for ihe young Soviet Navy.

On the other hand, the party officials in Moscow were not entirely certain of the political feelings of these men and therefore set up what is now known as the "Politico" system. Under this system, each officer having command, whether of an entire fleet or a motor torpedo boat, was assigned at least one political officer, a member of the Communist Party, who looked after the political education of the men under his command, as well as making certain that the commanding officer would commit no act which would hurt the Soviet Government.

As time went on, the Political Officers assumed more and more power, so that at the time of the Russo-Finnish War, no decision, either of political or operational importance, could be made by the commanding officer without the approval of his senior political officer. In fact, the political officer was equal in rank to the commander, if not superior to him. In September, 1941, there were no less than 9 political officers assigned to the 8,000-ton heavy cruiser VOROSHILOV. This system, which existed for the sole purpose of compelling officers to adhere to the rules set down by the Cppmmunist Party, made for great inefficiency at sea.




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