Danube Flotilla / Dynavckaga Flotillia
Hungary was a continental state, which had long maintained its contact with the outer world only through the port of Fiume, which belonged to Croatia. If Croatia joined Servia, Hungary would become a landlocked kingdom, without port or seaboard, fatally dependent on the good-will of her neighbors for the conduct of her economic life. She would be, in short, what Servia had been, and she would be reduced to dependence on some precarious device of a free port on alien territory.
Before the Great War, Serbia was land-locked and without access to the sea and had practically but one market, Austria-Hungary. Austria-Hungary attempted to bring her to her knees over and over again by strangling her economically, by raising tariff duties on her products to such an extent that she would starve. After the Great War, Hungary was absolutely landlocked. Hungary had no seacoast. Hungary had no access to the sea, and in the industrial era if there was not free access to the sea for a state it meant the death of that state.
If she was to continue her industrial life, she would need the opportunity to bring freely from over the seas raw materials, and she would need free access to the coast to send her products across the seas to other countries. She would need the right to send those goods to the seaboard over railroads going through other countries, with the knowledge that she will not be charged preferential freight rates or be interfered with by tariff duties of any kind.
The year 2007 marked the 90th Anniversary of the birth of the Independent Hungarian Military Intelligence / Reconnaissance, but also the establishment of the Hungarian Defense Forces (HDF), the setting up of the Museum of Military History (also 90 years ago) and that of the Air Force 70 years earlier, as well as the opening of the Ludovika Military Academy 200 years ago, and the River Fleet 160 years ago.
Warship service in Hungary started virtually simultaneously with the inception of the Hungarian Defence Forces. The first fighting ship, the “Lázár Mészáros” steamer was first launched and entered service on 25 July 1848, a day that marked the beginning of the warship era in Hungary. 1867, the year when the unit was redesignated as “Danube Flottila”, marked a milestone in the history of the Hungarian warship service. 1871 was another landmark, as this year saw two monitors entering service. These vessels had full metal hulls and relatively thicker armor plates.
In 1896 it was proposed to strengthen the Danube flotilla by the addition of a number of monitors, now that the obstacles to the navigation of the lower Danube had been removed. In 1901 the Danube flotilla consisted of four small river monitors. This was regarded as insufficient and it was proposed to build two more, if possible to secure the approval of the Imperial Parliament.
By 1913 the Danube Flotilla consisted of monitors and patrol boats. The monitors were the Temes and the Bodrop, built in 1904, each with an armament 2 12 cm. q. f. guns, 1 12 cm. howitzer, and 2 8 mm. machine guns. The Szamos and the Körös, built in 1892, each armed with 2 12 cm. q. f. guns, 2 7 cm. q. f. guns, and 2 8 mm. machine guns. The Maros and the Leitha, built in 1871, each armed with 1 12 em. q. f. gun, 2 47 mm. mitrailleuses, and 1 8 mm. machine gun. These monitors had a complement of about 3 officers and 70 men, and were armored. The guns had a range of 5 kilometers and the machine guns were for close fighting. To these 6 monitors must be added 7 patrol (motor) boats, each armed with 1 machine gun. This flotilla was especially built for service on the northern frontier of Servia.
From the date of the coming into force of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, all Austro-Hungarian warships, submarines included, were declared to be finally surrendered to the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. All the monitors, torpedo boats and armed vessels of the Danube Flotilla were surrendered to the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. Hungary, however, had the right to maintain on the Danube for the use of the river police three patrol boats to be selected by the Commission referred to in Article 138 of the Treaty of Versailles. The Principal Allied and Associated Powers may increase this number should the said Commission, after examination on the spot, consider it to be insufficient. In July 1919 the last unit of the Danube flotilla, the monitor Szamos, which had remained loyal to Bela Kun, fled down the Danube and surrendered to the Serbians. The officers and men of the crew requested permission to fight against the Hungarian Soviet government, and the Serbian government transported them to Szegedin, up the Tisza River, southeast of Budapest, ; where they were placed at the disposal of the Karolyl forces.
During and after World War II the warship crews had to take up a new and even more dangerous challenge, as they were tasked with sweeping the River Danube for mines, which preserves several “memories” of the war to date, since several shells and bombs are dug up at the most unexpected locations in the riverbed. When the war was over, the complete fleet was declared to be captured material, and the warships were transported from the country.
The leadership of the newly established Hungarian People’s Army quickly recognized that protection and minesweeping on the river Danube were important missions, and the ‘Honvéd’ Warship Brigade resumed the work in May 1945. The crews neutralized a total of 954 mines between 1945 and 2001, but a significant amount still remain under water.
Several minehunters and minesweepers entered service in the 1950s. The next major upgrade occurred in 1981, when the unit received six AM type modern minesweepers. In 1988 the Hungarian Danube Flotilla, incorporated into the army in 1968, consisted of 700 men and eighty-two vessels, including ten Nestin MSI (riverine) boats. During wartime its chief functions would be to clear the Danube and Tisza rivers of mines and to assist the army and its materiel in river crossings.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|