In 1990 the Yugoslav navy had 10,000 sailors (4,400 conscripts), including 2,300 in twenty-five coastal artillery batteries and 900 marines in one light naval infantry brigade. This was essentially a coastal defense force with the mission of preventing enemy landings along the country's rugged 4,000-kilometer shoreline or coastal islands, and contesting an enemy blockade or control of the strategic Strait of Otranto. Its capabilities were limited by a lack of operational time at sea and infrequent live firing exercises.
Minor surface combatants operated by the Yugoslav navy included nearly eighty frigates, corvettes, submarines, minesweepers, and missile, torpedo, and patrol boats in the Adriatic Fleet. The entire coast of Yugoslavia was part of the naval region headquartered at Split. The naval region was divided into three smaller naval districts and a riverine flotilla with major bases located at Split, Sibenik, Pula, Ploce and Kotor on the Adriatic and Novi Sad on the Danube. The fleet was organized into missile, torpedo, and patrol boat brigades, a submarine division, and minesweeper flotillas. The naval order of battle included four frigates, three corvettes, five patrol submarines, fifty-eight missile, torpedo, and patrol boats, and twenty-eight minesweepers. One antisubmarine warfare helicopter squadron was based at Divulje on the Adriatic for coastal operations. It employed Soviet Ka-25, Ka-28, and Mi-8 helicopters, and domestic Partisan helicopters. Some air force fighter and reconnaissance squadrons supported naval operations.
The Partisans had operated many small boats in raids harassing Italian convoys in the Adriatic Sea during World War II. After the war, the navy operated numerous German and Italian submarines, destroyers, minesweepers, and tank-landing craft captured during the war or received as war reparations. The United States provided eight torpedo boats in the late 1940s, but most of those units were soon obsolete. The navy was upgraded in the 1960s when it acquired ten Osa-I class missile boats and four Shershen-class torpedo boats from the Soviet Union. The Soviets granted a license to build eleven additional Shershen units in Yugoslav shipyards developed for this purpose.
In 1980 and 1982, the Yugoslav navy took delivery of two Soviet Koniclass frigates. In 1988 it completed two additional units under license. The Koni frigates were armed with four Soviet SS-N-2B surface-to-surface missile launchers, twin SA-N-4 surface-to-air missiles, and antisubmarine rocket launchers. The Yugoslav navy developed its own submarine-building capability during the 1960s. In 1990, the main combat units of the submarine service were three Heroj-class patrol submarines armed with 533-mm torpedoes. Two smaller Sava-class units entered service in the late 1970s. Two Sutjeska-class submarines had been relegated mainly to training missions by 1990. At that time the navy had apparently shifted to construction of versatile midget submarines. Four Una-class midgets and four Mala-class swimmer delivery vehicles were in service in the late 1980s. They were built for use by underwater demolition teams and special forces. The Una-class boats carried five crewmen, eight combat swimmers, four Mala vehicles, and limpet mines. The Mala vehicles in turn carried two swimmers and 250 kilograms of mines.
The Yugoslav navy operated ten Osa I-class and six Rade Koncar-class missile boats. The Osa I boats were armed with four SS-N-2A surface-to-surface missile launchers. In 1990, domestic Kobra boats were scheduled to begin replacing the Osa I boats. The Kobra was to be armed with four SS-N-2C launchers or eight Swedish RBS-15 antiship missile launchers. Armed with two SS-N-2B launchers, the Koncar-class boats were modeled after the Swedish Spica class. The navy's fifteen Topcider-class torpedo boats included four former Soviet Shershen-class and eleven Yugoslavbuilt units.
Patrol boats were operated primarily for antisubmarine warfare. The inventory included three Mornar-class corvettes with antisubmarine rocket launchers and depth charges. The Mornar class was based on a French design from the mid-1950s. Seventeen Mirna inshore patrol boats and thirteen older Kraljevica submarine chasers also were available.
The Yugoslav navy's mine warfare and countermeasures capabilities were considered adequate in 1990. It operated four Vukov Klanac-class coastal minehunters built on a French design, four British Hamclass inshore minesweepers, and six 117-class inshore minesweepers built in domestic shipyards. Larger numbers of older and less capable minesweepers were mainly used in riverine operations. Other older units were used as dedicated minelayers. The navy used amphibious landing craft in support of army operations in the area of the Danube, Sava, and Drava rivers. They included both tank and assault landing craft. In 1990, there were four 501-class, ten 211-class, and twenty-five 601-class landing craft in service. Most of them were also capable of laying mines in rivers and coastal areas.
The coastal artillery batteries had both surface-to-surface missiles and guns. They operated the Soviet-designed SS-C-3 and a truck-mounted, Yugoslav-produced Brom antiship missile. The latter was essentially a Yugoslav variant of the Soviet SS-N-2. Coastal guns included over 400 88mm, 122mm, 130mm, and 152mm artillery pieces obtained from the Soviet Union, the United States, postwar Germany, and Yugoslav manufacturers.
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