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Most books of WWII speak of the naval battles of allied and axis powers during the war, but none about the Soviet navy. The soviets had an active fleet at the time, why did it not engage the Germans at sea?

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The Soviets were allied. – Anixx Jan 1 '13 at 18:53
Sure they were. What I meant that as allies, they did not engage the Germans at sea! – The Byzantine Jan 1 '13 at 19:10
oh lol they did of course. – Anixx Jan 1 '13 at 20:03
The Soviets joined the allies only after the 22/06/1941. Before that, the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact was in full effect. – Sardathrion Aug 8 '13 at 9:32
Soviet fleet... you mean all those guys Stalin executed in 1934-1936? It's actually hard to operate a warship when all the people who know anything about boats are dead. – Tyler Durden Jun 6 '14 at 18:02
up vote 18 down vote accepted

Unlike Soviet ground forces the fleet was well prepared at the beginning of German invasion and did not panic or wait for orders.

For example as early as August 1941 Baltic fleet air force bombed Berlin from the island Ezel. In 1941 Baltic fleet placed 12047 mines.

In 1943 the Finns together with the Germans successfully placed a net across the Gulf of Finland which Soviet submarines could not penetrate. The operations of the Baltic fleet became confined to the Gulf.

Nevertheless the fleet played a serious role during the blockade of Leningrad and associated operations. For instance they supported the offensive north of Leningrad with about 200 high-caliber guns.

The fleet also set up some fleet units on the lakes surrounding Leningrad, the Chud, Ladoga, Onega and Ilmen lakes.

In 1944 Finland started to remove the barrier net, increasing the possibilities for Soviet fleet.

Overall they sunk 280 enemy warships and 624 transports, including 2 pre-dreadnought battleships, 3 cruisers, 16 destroyers, and 16 submarines.

The Fleet executed 24 landing operations and 158,000 aerial sorties.

100,000 Baltic fleet personnel were awarded decorations and 137 became Heroes of the Soviet Union.

The Black Sea Fleet also was not caught by surprise; on the night of the June 22 German attack on the USSR they successfully defended against a German surprise air strike.

Throughout the war the Black Sea Fleet made 13 landings, sank 508 enemy ships, and transported 2 million passengers and 8 million tonnes of freight.

The Northern Fleet during the war sank over 200 enemy warships and 400 transports and destroyed over 1300 planes.

The Pacific Fleet mostly did not participate in the war until the 1945 war against Japan. Many of its personnel did participate in the fight against Germany as members of other units.

Source http://militera.lib.ru/enc/0/djvu/enc_vov1985.djvu

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Source for the statistics? – Felix Goldberg Jan 1 '13 at 19:28
+1 Even though I don't understand why can't you just quote in the original answer... – astabada Jan 1 '13 at 21:19
According to this answer, the combined Russian fleets sank a total of 508+280+200 = 988 enemy warships. I don't believe Germany or her allies had this many warships. Can you elaborate on this claim? – Barry May 3 '13 at 0:37
@Barry the Black Sea figure of 508 includes transports. – Anixx May 3 '13 at 1:51

Baltic fleet:

There were a whole bunch of mines laid by Germany and their co-belligerents Finland and Sweden shortly before the Great Patriotic War began, which did not help the naval forces in Leningrad. This and the fast German advance up the Baltic coast prevented the Russians making my use of their surface fleet in open water. See the wikipedia page.

The Russian submarines seem to have had more success in disrupting the axis efforts, but since submarines do not fight great engagements and sea control was not as important to Russia at that time as it was in Britain (in it's own submarine war) it is unfortunately a footnote in history.

Balck Sea, Northern and pacific:

As for the black sea, it's on the wikipedia page, there was involvement in supporting and evacuating coastal cities. More problems with mines there as well as the Luftwaffe. As for the northern fleet it was involved in protexting the Arctic Convoys. The pacific fleet participated in the Soviet invasion of Manchuria.

If you were wondering, the Caspian Flotilla was involved in supplying Stalingrad (on the Volga) and supplying other fighting in the Caucasuses.

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To sum it up, crudely (talking about surface combat): The Baltic (Talinn) was overrun by the Germans, so the Soviet Navy couldn't fight them there. The Black Sea was inaccessible to the Germans, so SN didn't need to fight them there. – Felix Goldberg Dec 30 '12 at 21:40
Sweden was neutral, not a co-belligerent with Germany and Finland. (For all I know, they may well have mined the Baltic - it would certainly have made sense.) – Stephan Kolassa Jun 6 at 20:02

Soviet Navy's role was negligible compared to that of either the Soviet Army or the Navies of the Western Allies. This is not surprising given the essentially continental nature of the USSR.

The other two answers give the glorified official version which inflates ridiculously the damage inflicted on the Axis. Early in the war, the Baltic fleet was locked up in Leningrad; Tributs kept sending submarines on one way missions to show that he was doing something. After the cruiser Red Ukraine was lost in 1941, the use of larger ships had to be sanctioned by Moscow. Indeed, the Northern fleet helped with the Arctic Convoys, and late in the war both Baltic and Black see fleets were more active, but all their achievements pale compared to what the Red Army did.

PS. The Soviet Naval Strategy was heavily directed towards Sea denial (the Shipbuilding Ministry was unofficially known as "Наркомат подводных лодок" - Submarine Ministry) which is not surprising given the aforementioned continental nature of the USSR. One might find Анализ эффективности советского подводного флота в годы Второй мировой войны enlightening, especially its scathing criticism of the official historiography.

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Amen to this! Cf. Mark Solonin "25th June" – kubanczyk Aug 8 '13 at 15:36

The Soviet navy played an auxiliary role throughout the entirety of the Second World War. The Baltic fleet was mainly locked in by German and Finnish mines, while the Black Sea fleet mainly participated in evacuation operations (Odessa and Sevastopol) and after the Germans retreated in 1943, attempted to gain control from German and Romanian forces. The Navy also participated in numerous landing operations in the Black Sea (Malaia Zemlia) for which Tsezar Kunikov is famous, and Brezhnev, who took credit he didn't deserve.

Furthermore, Soviet Naval Infantry participated in numerous battles once their ships were disabled or there was a need for manpower. From Leningrad, to Odessa, Stalingrad, Sevastopol, Novorossiisk, and 'special forces' operations (mainly conducted by naval recon troops), Soviet navy personnel made up a significant and important part of many Red Army operations. The Germans nicknamed them 'The Black Death'.

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Are you a relation of Ts. Kunikov? – Felix Goldberg Aug 8 '13 at 7:47
No, the name I go by here isn't my actual name. – Kunikov Aug 8 '13 at 13:43

In the Black sea there was also an Italian naval group of small ships. Ans the germans managed to send a group off small speedboats using the Danube river to reach the Black sea.

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I'm not sure how this answers the question on the Soviet Navy. – Semaphore Aug 31 '15 at 16:17

the soviet fleet did assist on the arctic convoys as mentionedin a post.it was also a soviet submarine that sank a german hospital ship willhiem gustloff that was acting as a evacuation ship as the russians advanced on the eastern front. wasn't the only timea hospital ship was attacked. a dutch and australian hospital shipswere attacked in the pacific by the imperial japanese navyin 1942

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This answer provides anecdotal, unsourced examples of actions of the Soviet Navy; it doesn't answer what was the role of the Soviet Navy. – Mark C. Wallace Jun 12 at 11:26

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