Danube Naval Flotilla

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Danube Naval Flotilla


a fleet created during the 18th and 19th centuries during the wars that were waged against Turkey.

The Danube Naval Flotilla was first established in 1771 by P. A. Rumiantsev during the Russo-Turkish War of 1768-74 as the Liman Oar-powered Flotilla, and it was disbanded in 1774. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1787-91 the Liman Flotilla (from December 1790 known as the Black Sea Oar-powered Fleet), under the command of Rear Admiral N. S. Mordvinov and later under Major General O. M. de Ribas, engaged in joint action with army troops near Kinburn, Măcin, and Brailov and in the capture of Izmail and Ochakov. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 the Danube Naval Flotilla (which consisted of one or two gunboats, four to ten steam-powered mine cutters, and a few steamships) fought successfully against a strong Turkish flotilla on the Danube. In 1879 some of the ships were given to Bulgaria. During World War I (1914-18) a detachment of cutters of the Danube Naval Flotilla supported Russian troops on the Rumanian front. In November 1917 the sailors of the flotilla went over to the side of Soviet power. After the seizure of Bessarabia by Rumania the ships departed for Odessa in February 1918, where they were captured by the Austro-German interventionists.

On June 17, 1940, in connection with the annexation of Moldavia by the USSR, the Danube Naval Flotilla was created with its main base at Izmail; it included five monitors, 22 armored cutters, 30 minesweeping cutters, seven patrol boats, and other vessels. At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War (1941-45) the Danube Naval Flotilla, acting with troops of the Southern Front, repulsed attempts by Rumanian troops to effect a crossing of the Danube. When the Soviet Army retreated, the flotilla transferred its base to Odessa in July, then to Nikolaev and Kherson, where it ensured the crossing of the Iuzhnyi Bug and Dnieper rivers; in September 1941 the flotilla broke through to escape to Sevastopol’, and in October it sailed to Kerch’. On Nov. 21, 1941, it was disbanded. Prior to Sept. 16, 1941, it had been commanded by Rear Admiral N. O. Abramov, and subsequently, by Rear Admiral A. S. Frolov.

On Apr. 14, 1944, the flotilla was formed again and based at the Dnieprovsko-Bug Estuary and then at Odessa and after August 1944 at Izmail. In August 1944 it numbered 33 armored cutters, seven mine cutters, and eight minesweepers. Rear Admiral S. G. Gorshkov was in command of the Danube Naval Flotilla and, after Dec. 12, 1944, Rear Admiral G. N. Kholostiakov. Acting with troops of the Second and Third Ukrainian fronts, the Danube Naval Flotilla took part in the Iaşi-Kishinev Operation, the forcing of the Danube, and the capture of the ports of Sulina, Tulcea, and Izmail, as well as in the liberation of Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Austria. It completed the enormous task of sweeping the Danube of mines (as many as 600 mines were destroyed), took part in 21 landings (more than 27,000 men), and transported about 1 million men, more than 1,500 tanks, and more than 5,000 artillery weapons.

The Danube Naval Flotilla was awarded the Order of the Red Banner, the Order of Nakhimov First Class, and the Order of Ushakov First Class. After the war ended, it was disbanded.


V’iunenko, N. P., and R. N. Mordvinov. Voennye flotilii v Velikoi Otechestvennoi voine. Moscow, 1957.
Loktionov, I. I. Dunaiskaia flotiliia v Velikoi Otechestvennoi voine (1941-1945 gg.). Moscow, 1962.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.