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The subject index / Baltic Fleet

Baltic Fleet

Categories / Army. Navy/Baltic Fleet

BALTIC FLEET, consolidation of the naval forces of Russia - USSR - Russian Federation, based on the Baltic Sea. Built up by Tsar Peter I during the Northern War of 1700-21. First vessels (coastal vessels and rowing boats) for the Baltic Fleet were built at the shipyards on the Svir and the Syas rivers. In October 1702 a rowing flotilla took part in the assault of the fortress Noteburg (see Schliesselburg Fortress). On 7 May 1703 at the mouth of the Neva River two Swedish boats were captured, and incorporated into the Baltic Fleet (this day is considered the birthday of the Baltic Fleet). In 1704-05 ships of the Baltic Fleet took part in the repulsion of Swedish attacks on St. Petersburg. From 1709 the construction of sea-going ships and 30-40 gun frigates had been launched at the Admiralty shipyard in St. Petersburg. In 1720 Kronstadt became the fleet base. In 1710 the Baltic Fleet took part in the seizure of Vyborg, in 1714 defeated the Swedish fleet at Cape Gangut, in 1719 - near the Island of Esel, in 1720 - near the Island of Grengam. During the Seven Year War of 1756-63 ships of the Baltic Fleet backed up the land forces during the seizure of the town of Memel (1757) and the fortress of Kolberg (1760-61). During the Russo-Turkish war of 1769-74 and 1806-12 squadrons of the Baltic Fleet completed the passage to the Mediterranean Sea, in the battles near Chesme (1770) and Aphone (1807) routed the Turkish fleet. In the Russo-Swedish War of 1788-90 the Baltic Fleet foiled an attempt of the Swedish fleet to assault Kronstadt and acted successfully in the battles near the Island of Gogland (1788), the Island of Rochensalm (1789), by Revel, and Vyborg (1790). It was defeated for the first time in the Second Battle for Rochensalm (1790). During the naval Russo-British War of 1807-09 the Baltic Fleet failed to offer efficient resistance to British privateers. A considerable number of ships in the Baltic Fleet were destroyed during the gale and flood on 7.11.1824, the fighting efficiency of the fleet had been restored by 1826. In 1827, a squadron of the Baltic Fleet undertook an expedition to the Mediterranean and with the allied fleet defeated the Turkish fleet in the battle of Navarin. During the Crimean war of 1853-56 the Baltic Fleet stood idle. In 1861 it began the construction of the steam armoured fleet, in 1869 it launched the first maritime battleship in the world, the Peter the Great. By the late 19th century the Baltic Fleet had in its arsenal 250 vessels of all types. During the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05 the Second and Third Pacific Squadrons were formed, which made a passage to the Sea of Japan and in May of 1905 were crushed in the Tsusima Naval Battle. In 1909 St. Petersburg dockyards started building dreadnought ships and general reorganisation of the fleet; Baltic Fleet bases were transferred to Helsingfors (present day Helsinki) and Revel (now Tallinn), Kronstadt was retained as a rear repair base. During WW I 1914-18 the Baltic Fleet was not involved in active naval operations, building solely defensive mine and artillery installations in the Gulf of Finland and Riga. Ship and base crews of the Baltic Fleet played an active role in the February Revolution and October coup d'etat of 1917. In February-May 1918 ships of the Baltic Fleet made a passage from Revel and Helsingfors to Kronstadt, which again became the Baltic Fleet base. In 1921 a number of crews from ships of the Baltic Fleet excited an anti-Bolshevik rebellion in Kronstadt. In the 1930s the Baltic Fleet was technically upgraded and the Pacific and Northern Fleets were set up following its structure. During the Soviet-Finnish War of 1939-40 the Baltic Fleet provided support to the land forces of the Red Army, operating on the Karelian Isthmus. At the onset of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45 ships and boats of the Baltic Fleet sailed from Tallinn to Kronstadt, sustaining serious casualties from German air-raids and explosions on minelayers. The Baltic Fleet was actively involved in the defence of Leningrad (in 1941 many ships stood in the line of fire on the Neva River within the city boundaries), in breaking the blockade (1943), in the defeat of the German troops surrounding Leningrad (1944), in Baltic battles, and battles for East Prussia and East Pomerane (1944-45). After 1945 the Baltic Fleet lost its significance as the main strategic fleet of the USSR and was rigged in line with the defence objectives of the coastline and enemy counter-measures in the basin of the Baltic Sea. The Baltic Fleet had significant stimulating repercussions on the industrial and scientific development of St. Petersburg, which was its building base (naval contracts went out to almost all large machine-building and metallurgical city enterprises). St. Petersburg became the centre for scientific institutions, whose activities were related to fleet: the Russian Geographic Society, Departments of Physical Geography of the Academy of Sciences, institutions of shipbuilding sciences and contiguous disciplines. St. Petersburg remains the largest centre of naval education in Russia. A greater part of the exposition at the Naval Museum is devoted to the history of the Baltic Fleet. In 1979 a new square beside the Morskaya Embankment was designated as the Baltic Fleet Square.

References: Веселаго Ф. Ф. Краткая история русского флота. М.; Л. 1939; Ачкасов В. И., Вайнер Б. А. Краснознаменный Балтийский флот в Великой Отечественной войне. М., 1957; Дважды Краснознаменный Балтийский флот. 3-е изд., испр. и доп. М., 1990; Кротов П. А. Рождение Балтийского военно-морского флота // ВИ. 1991. № 11. С. 209-213.

A. N. Lukirsky, G.V. Kalashnikov.

Peter I, Emperor
Veselago Feodosy Fedorovich

Baltflota Square/Saint Petersburg, city

Ачкасов В. И., Вайнер Б. А. Краснознаменный Балтийский флот в Великой Отечественной войне. М., 1957
Дважды Краснознаменный Балтийский флот. 3-е изд., испр. и доп. М., 1990
Кротов П. А. Рождение Балтийского военно-морского флота // Вопр. истории, 1991
Веселаго Ф. Ф. Краткая история русского флота. М.; Л., 1939

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