Great Patriotic War - Status of the Fleets
Geographical conditions were not conducive to wartime manuvering forces of the Navy of the USSR among the major maritime theaters. The ability to manuver was limited to the use of some river systems and canals and the Northern Sea Route. The proximity of the White Sea-Baltic Canal in its entirety to the enemy in Finland made it difficult to use it to manuver forces between the Baltic and North sea theaters.
The North Sea theater of operations was characterized by great length and enormous size bodies of water close to the ocean and the harsh climatic and natural conditions, the relative remoteness of the theater from the interior of the country, poor equipment for ports and marinas. The great length of the theater made it difficult to secure the organization of the main types of defense, has facilitated the use of enemy submarines and raiding operations contributed to its surface forces. The seizure of the German troops north-east coast of Norway, characterized by great irregularity of the coastline, facilitated the German use of sea lanes along this coast. In addition, the proximity of Murmansk, the Arctic to the border with Norway, favored the fascist military action against these bases. Typical for that time off-road theater, the absence in the eastern airfields and landing strips led to greater importance of marine communications and required retrofit the theater with a view to limiting the activity of the enemy.
However, a number of military and geographical conditions of the theater favored the forces of the Northern Fleet. Location of the Polar, Vaenga and Murmansk in the depths of the Kola Bay supported their defense from the sea. The extended position Ribachi Peninsula and the Middle facilitated the Northern Fleet monitoring Varanger Fjord, near approaches to this part of the Kola Peninsula from the sea, for Motovsky Gulf, and finally, ensure the sustainability of the flank of ground forces. The direct connection of the theater with the ocean made it possible to make extensive use of external communications, while at the same time, increased the ability of forces of the Northern Fleet to enforce them.
It goes without saying that the actions of forces in the northern theater was influenced by seasonal conditions and visibility (polar day and night), and in the eastern part of the theater and ice conditions. By the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, the Northern Fleet (commanded by Rear Admiral AG Golovko, a member of the Military Council of the Divisional Commissioner A. Nikolaev, Chief of Staff Rear Admiral SG driver) has a relatively small forces. In the ranks were 8 destroyers, 2 of them are old, 7 escort warships, 15 submarines, 15 patrol boats of the type "MO", several torpedo boats and minesweepers. Aviation in the Northern fleet numbered 116 aircraft, mostly older types. Coastal defense this time a sufficient number of cells with complete or nearly complete engineering equipment.
The main base of the Northern Fleet is polar, a rear base - Murmansk. Airfield Network Northern Fleet aircraft was very poorly developed. The main objectives of the Northern Fleet before the outbreak of the war were to promote the flank of coastal ground forces, together with the forces of Arkhangelsk Military District of the White Sea coast defense, security of its sea lanes, and operations against enemy communications.
The Baltic Sea is characterized by relatively small size, relatively shallow, rocky nature of the coast in some areas, and its closed (due to the peculiarities of the torrential zone, connecting the Baltic with the North Sea). The small depth, the presence of islands and rocky areas favored the use of mines and anti-submarine defense. The limited size of the sea enabled the aircraft of either party to act against enemy shipping, including coastal. The configuration, the Baltic coast of the USSR allowed the enemy to act simultaneously on two key areas (east coast of the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland) with a unified sense of purpose (against Leningrad). Separation and division of individual areas of the theater facilitate the isolation of the enemy each.
The northern coast of the Gulf, the coastal area between the ports of Turku and Stockholm, the west coast of Finland and almost the entire east coast of Sweden are covered by the sea a few thousand small islands forming the skerries. The width skerry bands from the mainland is 10 miles (18 km), and in places 20-30 miles (37-55 km). The Skerry district of the Gulf is full of plenty of exits and convenient parking, connected by internal fairways allows covertly deploy surface ships and submarines based on the Finnish database. The low width of the Gulf of Finland and the small of his depth at the exclusive constraint due to the presence of a large number of dangers, shoals and islands, creates particularly favorable conditions for the use of mines and effective anti-submarine defense, including all types of positional ASW equipment, and a dense system of monitoring and warning systems. White nights, continuing in the Gulf about two summer months, are not conducive to secrecy of the fighting. In winter, the bays and coastal zones of the Baltic Sea ice cover shackles. All ports of Finland, Riga and the Gulf of Bothnia usually freezes. Autumn and winter, frequent low clouds very difficult air operations in the Baltic theater.
The Red Banner Baltic Fleet (commanded by Vice Admiral VF Tributs, a member of the Military Council of the Divisional Commissioner M. Yakovenko, Chief of Staff Rear-Admiral A. Panteleyev) at the beginning of World War II had a total 2 battleships, 2 cruisers, 2 leaders, 21 destroyer (including 8 of the old type "Novik"), 65 submarines, 6 surface mine layers, 33 trawlers (only 18 new-type "bomb"), 7 escort warships, 48 motor torpedo boats as well as dozens of patrol boats of various types. In addition, the Navy had a series of training ships and a large number of auxiliary vessels.
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