Soviet Naval Operations
Second Period (Nov 1942 - Dec 1943)
During second period of World War II, which was characterized by the passage of strategic initiative to the Soviet Armed Forces, the Naval fleet contributed to the seaside groups of ground forces in their offensive operations. The second period of the Great Patriotic War (November 1942 - end of 1943) was marked by the Soviet troops counter-offensive operation and defeat of the 330,000-strong group of Germans near Sebastopol. Resulting from the increased military production output and extension of military reserves, the USSR managed to gain both economic and military superiority over Nazi Germany.
During this period, the Navy continued to assist the land troops on the sea-coast flanks and started to take a more active part in military operations on the sea lines of communication. The river flotillas provided direct fire-support of the troops. Fleets and flotillas kept on landing operational and tactical troops, carrying out troops and equipment transportation on the sea and river routes.
The Naval fleet activated the fight with the enemy on his sea communications, ensured safety of motion on its sea communications, it continued to accomplish the tasks of daily combat activity. The assistance of red banner Baltic fleet to seaside groups of ground forces was evinced by the active participation of ship and coast artillery, and also aviation in the defense of Leningrad and in the breakthrough of its blockade. Retaining the islands of the eastern part of Gulf of Finland (Lavensari, Penisari and Seskar), the Red Banner Baltic Fleet [KBF] reliably covered approaches to Leningrad from the side of sea.
At the end second period of war the Red Banner Baltic fleet carried out large troop transportation to the Oranienbaum bridgehead, where the forces, at the beginning of the third period, delivered the main attack to the seaside group of the Fascist-German troops. The Ladoga military flotilla continued to ensure troop and national-economic transportation into Leningrad on the lake communication. Aviation and PT boats of the KBF systematically acted on the communications of enemy in the eastern part of Gulf of Finland. Together with the North-Caucasian Front Black Sea fleet at the beginning of second period of war participated in the offensive operation, after landing the amphibious force in the regions of southern Ozereyki and Stanichki. Mastery of the bridgehead in Stanichki region deprived the Hitlerites of the possibility of using a Novorossisk port and created favorable conditions for the driving the enemy out from Novorossisk.
The Black Sea Fleet conducted a number of landing operations in districts of Novorossiysk, Taganrog and Mariupol. The Kerch-Eltingen landing operation resulted in Kerch beachhead capture which later allowed the Soviets to accomplish successful military operations for liberation of the Crimea. In September 1943, the forces of the North-Caucasian Front and Black Sea fleet conducted the Novorossisko-Taman operation. In interaction with the troops of the 18th Army the fleet accomplished the Novorossisk landing operation, which was completed by the release of Novorossisk.
Subsequently the Black Sea fleet and Azov military flotilla contributed to the forces of North-Caucasian Front in the complete liberation of the Taman peninsula. As a result the Kerch-Eltigenskoy landing operation, carried out together by the forces of front and by fleet, a bridgehead in the Kerch peninsula was seized at the end of the second period. Submarines, aviation and the surface ships of the Black Sea fleet of at the end 1942 and in 1943 acted on the sea communications of enemy on the Crimean coast and in the western part of the sea.
The actions of the Red Banner Northern Fleet had great significance in the strategic use of a Naval fleet, providing of safety of the motion of escorts on the external and Arctic communications. In second period of the war of the force of this navy they participated in the provision for transfer of 16 convoys ["union escorts"], which consisted of 236 transports.
An important role was played by the Volga River military flotilla which was responsible for securing Volga River strategic oil-communication. The Caspian military flotilla in 1943 continued to ensure troop and national-economic transportation.
The actions of submarines and aviation were activated on sea communications, which complicated enemy transportation for the army in Norway and the delivery to Germany of strategic raw material from the ports of Varanger-fjord. Difficulties in the supply and the completion, caused by the disruption of communications, deprived the German army in Norway of the possibility to conduct any attack actions.
Unlike the first period of the GPW, when it was mainly submarines that were active on the sea lines of communication, beginning from 1943 the Navy started to engage aviation on a large scale. Almost half of the enemy sank transport tonnage is the result of the aviation attacks. Airplanes with mine-torpedo weapons were added to the fleets Air Forces' armory. Aviation started to play a key role in the operations directed at enemy sea transportation lines undermining.
Submarine activity was to a large extent hindered by the poor instrumentation and equipment of repair depots with modern machinery and appliances, while at the Baltic Sea Fleet they had to deal with powerful anti-submarine constructions erected by the enemy.
The fact that the Soviet Air Forces finally managed to win air superiority and equip the ships with efficient anti-aircraft guns was conducive to the anti-aircraft defence enhancement. The most valuable sea shipping started being covered by fighters. Moreover, losses of ships while transporting cargoes reduced.
In order to meet, in part, the shortage of officers produced by heavy casualties and expansion, and to promote efficiency, discipline, and comradely cooperation among officers, the commissar system was, ostsnsibly, at least, abolished, both in the army and navy in 1943. Political commissars, formerly constituting as high as 1/5 of officer personnel, were been enrolled as regular naval officers, in which capacity they continued to exert strong party influence upon military personnel, although without the power to countersign the orders of the commander.
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