Ice Campaign of the Baltic Fleet of 1918

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ice Campaign of the Baltic Fleet of 1918


an operation to rebase the ships of the Baltic Fleet from Revel (Tallinn) and Helsingfors (Helsinki) to Kronstadt, carried out from February, 17–22 to May 2.

The offensive of the German troops in the Baltic region that started after the cessation of the Brest peace negotiations created the threat of a German seizure of the main forces of the Baltic Fleet, which were icebound in Revel and Helsingfors. Upon V. I. Lenin’s instruction, the Collegium of the Naval Commissariat directed the Central Committee of the Baltic Fleet on February 17 to move all ships from Revel to Helsingfors. Despite the difficult conditions, ships began leaving Revel individually on February 19 and in detachments on February 22, under the escort of icebreakers. On February 25 the German troops entered Revel, but a large part of the ships remaining there had gone out to the outer roadsteads. By March 5 all the ships, except one submarine that was crushed by the ice, had reached Helsingfors. However, the civil war that broke out in Finland after Svinhufvud and Mannerheim’s counterrevolutionary rebellion created a new threat to the Baltic Fleet. On March 12 the first detachment left Helsingfors, escorted by the icebreakers Ermak and Volynets. Forcing thick ice and traveling 330 km, the detachment reached Kronstadt on March 17.

On March 21 the Finnish White Guards seized the icebreaker Tarmo, and on March 29 they seized the Volynets and occupied the islands in the Gulf of Finland. On April 3 a German amphibious force landed near Hangö (Hanko), and the German command proposed that the ships disarm themselves. A railroad troop train carrying 500 sailors of the merchant marine fought its way from Petrograd to Helsingfors, and these sailors were assigned to the ships. A second detachment that sailed on April 5 was met by the Ermak and the cruiser Riurik on April 8 and reached Kronstadt on April 10. A third detachment sailed on April 7–12 and arrived in Kronstadt on April 22, and a fourth detachment that had been in Kotka arrived on May 2. All the other ships that had remained in Helsingfors arrived in May.

The operation succeeded in rebasing in Kronstadt 236 ships, including six battleships, five cruisers, 59 destroyers and torpedo boats, and 12 submarines. These ships provided the basis for the Baltic Fleet’s might and played a great role in the defense of Petrograd and in actions in other Civil War theaters.


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Kroviakov, N. S. “Ledovyi pokhod” Baltiiskogo flota v 1918. Moscow, 1955.
Sapozhnikov, V. I. Podvig baltiitsev v 1918. Moscow, 1954.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.