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a constituent part of the USSR Navy, created in 1933 to defend the Soviet polar region.
The Arctic Ocean Flotilla was founded on June 19, 1916, during World War I in connection with Russia’s need to defend Russian and British shipping on the Barents Sea against attack by German surface forces and submarines. In March 1920 the White Sea Naval Flotilla was formed in Arkhangel’sk and, in April 1920, was renamed the Naval Forces of the North Sea (disbanded in January 1923).
To form the Northern Fleet, a detachment of ships was sent north from the Baltic Sea, including two destroyers, two patrol boats, and two submarines. They left Kronstadt on May 18, 1933, and on August 5 arrived in Murmansk, where the Northern Naval Flotilla had been formed on June 1 (commander, Z. A. Zakupnev; from March 1935, K. I. Dushenov). In September 1933 the second detachment of ships, made up of one destroyer, one patrol boat, one submarine, and two minesweepers, arrived in Soroka on the White Sea. In 1935, Poliarnoe became the flotilla’s base. In September 1935 the first detachment of airplanes for the fleet arrived in Murmansk.
The Northern Naval Flotilla was renamed the Northern Fleet on May 11, 1937. By this time the first-line batteries of shore and air defense had been set up, airfields had been built, and new ships had arrived to fill out the fleet. During the Soviet-Finnish War of 1939–40, ships of the Northern Fleet blockaded the Finnish base at Petsamo. By June 1941 the Northern Fleet included eight destroyers, 15 submarines, two torpedo boats, seven patrol boats, two minesweepers, and 116 aircraft. The White Sea Naval Base was formed in August 1940 to defend the coast, bases, and ports and perform other missions. In August 1941 it was reorganized as the White Sea Naval Flotilla (commander from August 1941, Rear Admiral M. M. Dolinin; from October 1941, Vice Admiral G. A. Stepanov; subsequent commanders included Rear Admiral S. G. Kucherov and Vice Admiral Iu. A. Panteleev).
During the Great Patriotic War, the Northern Fleet defended the coastline and Srednii and Rybachii peninsulas, provided protection for internal and foreign shipping, operated on enemy sea-lanes, supported the maritime flank of the Fourteenth Army, disembarked tactical landing parties, and fought in the Petsamo-Kirkenes Operation of 1944. Some of the personnel of the fleet (up to 10,000 men) fought in battles on the land front. During the war, the Northern Fleet received more aircraft and ships from the Pacific Ocean and Caspian Sea and was also replenished with British ships temporarily transferred to the USSR in exchange for ships of fascist Italy that were seized during the war and were to be divided up among the Allies. On Apr. 15, 1945, the White Sea Naval Flotilla was reorganized as the White Sea Naval Defense Region.
During the war the Northern Fleet secured the passage of 1,463 vessels in foreign convoys and 2,568 vessels in domestic convoys. Fleet submarines, torpedo boats, and aviation sank 192 transports with a total tonnage of 530,569 tons, as well as 70 enemy warships. In addition, 118 transports, warships, and auxiliary vessels were damaged. Two aviation regiments, a submarine-hunter division, eight submarines, and the destroyer Gremiashchii received the title “guards” for skill in combat. Many units and ships were awarded orders, and 85 Northern Fleet servicemen received the title “Hero of the Soviet Union.” B. F. Safonov, V. N. Leonov, and A. O. Shabalin received the honor twice. More than 48,000 persons were given orders and medals.
After the war, the Northern Fleet received new, modern fighting ships of various classes, including atomic submarines armed with strategic missiles and surface ships with missile weapons. Fleet aviation has been equipped with new types of long-range aircraft with powerful missile and antisubmarine weapons. On May 7, 1965, the Northern Fleet was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.
The commanders of the Northern Fleet have included Flag Officer First Class K. I. Dushenov (from May 1937), Flag Officer Second Class V. P. Drozd (from May 1938), Admiral A. G. Golovko (from September 1940), Admiral V. I. Platonov (from August 1946), Admiral A. T. Chabanenko (from April 1952), Admiral V. A. Kasatonov (from February 1962), and Admiral S. M. Lobov (from 1964). In March 1972, Admiral of the Fleet G. M. Egorov took command of the Northern Fleet.
REFERENCESGolovko, A. G. Vmeste s flotom. Moscow, 1960.
Ponomarev, I. Podvig severomortsev. Murmansk, 1960.
Vainer, B. A. Severnyi flot v Velikoi Otechestvennoi voine. Moscow, 1964.
Kozlov, I. A., and V. S. Shlomin. Severnyi flot. Moscow, 1966.
G. M. EGOROV