Pacific Fleet


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Pacific Fleet

 

a major strategic naval formation, a component part of the USSR Navy; it ensures the protection of the maritime borders in the Far East and defends the state interests of the USSR in the Pacific Ocean.

In 1731 the Okhotsk Military Flotilla was created for patrol duty and the protection of fisheries. G. G. Skorniakov-Pisarev was its first commander. In 1799 three frigates and three small ships were sent to Okhotsk under the command of Rear Admiral I. K. Fomin to form a permanently operational military flotilla. In 1849, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskii became the flotilla’s main base. The ships of the flotilla distinguished themselves in the Pe-tropavlovsk Defense of 1854. In 1855, Nikolaevsk-na-Amure became the main base of the flotilla; in 1856 the flotilla’s name was changed to the Siberian Military Flotilla, and in 1871 the main base was shifted to Vladivostok. Until almost the end of the 19th century the flotilla had only a small number of ships.

As a result of the growing acuteness of Russo-Japanese conflicts, a special shipbuilding program was undertaken in 1898 “for the needs of the Far East.” The program was carried out very slowly, and consequently ships had to be transferred from the Baltic to the Far East (the Pacific Squadrons). By the beginning of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05, the Russian naval forces in the Far East consisted of the 1st Pacific Squadron and the Siberian Military Flotilla. The 1st Pacific Squadron (seven battleships, eight cruisers, 13 torpedo boats, and two gunboats) and some of the ships of the Siberian Military Flotilla (two cruisers, two torpedo cruisers, 12 torpedo boats, and five gunboats) were based at Port Arthur, while other ships of the Siberian Flotilla (four cruisers and ten torpedo boats) were at Vladivostok. During the Russo-Japanese War the sailors of the Pacific Fleet showed a high degree of heroism and self-sacrifice, but the principal forces of the Russian Fleet in the Pacific were lost.

During the Revolution of 1905–07 the sailors of the Pacific Fleet took an active part in the revolutionary movement and in the armed uprisings in Vladivostok in January 1906 and October 1907.

At the time of the October Revolution of 1917, sailors of the Siberian and Amur flotillas fought for the establishment of Soviet power in the Far East against both the White Guards and interventionists. During the Civil War, almost all the ships were taken by the White Guards and Japanese interventionists. In 1922, after the interventionists had been driven off, the Naval Forces of the Far East were created, consisting of the Vladivostok Detachment and the Amur Flotilla and commanded by I. K. Kozhanov. In 1926 these groupings were disbanded: the Vladivostok Detachment was transferred in 1925 to the operational jurisdiction of the border troops in the Far East, while the Amur Flotilla became a separate entity. At the time of the aggression by imperialist Japan in Manchuria (1931), the Central Committee of the party and the Soviet government adopted a resolution providing for the creation of naval forces in the Far East. The forces were established on Apr. 13,1932, and in January 1935 were renamed the Pacific Fleet. (Flag Officer of the Fleet First Class M. V. Viktorov was in command from April 1932 through August 1937.)

The creation of the Pacific Fleet entailed great difficulties; the first units were formed of small craft that had been transported by rail. In 1932 a division of torpedo boats was added to the fleet and eight submarines were commissioned. In 1934 the fleet acquired 26 small submarines, and a naval air arm and a coast guard were created. In 1937 the Pacific Naval School was opened. By the beginning of World War II (1939–45), the fleet included two brigades of surface ships, four brigades of submarines, one brigade of torpedo boats, several divisions of ships and motorboats, naval air units, coast guard forces and facilities, and marines.

The following officers have commanded the Pacific Fleet: Flag Officer First Class G. P. Kireev (1937), Flag Officer Second Class N. G. Kuznetsov (January 1938-April 1939), and Flag Officer Second Class I. S. Iumashev (August 1939-January 1947).

During the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), the Pacific Fleet maintained a constant state of combat readiness and was even able to transfer to the Northern Fleet one lead ship, two destroyers, and five submarines. More than 140,000 of the fleet’s sailors fought on various fronts within naval rifle brigades and other units. By August 1945, the Pacific Fleet included two cruisers, one lead ship, ten destroyers, two torpedo boats, 19 patrol ships, 78 submarines, ten mine layers, 52 mine sweepers, 49 M0 motor-boats, 204 torpedo cutters, and 1,549 military aircraft. The fleet was commanded by Admiral I. S. Iumashev, Lieutenant General S. E. Zakharov, member of the Military Council, and Vice Admiral A. S. Frolov, chief of staff. The fleet’s air arm was commanded by air force Lieutenant General P. N. Lemeshko.

During the Manchurian Operation of 1945, Pacific Fleet forces took part in the liberation of North Korea: in the period from August 12 to 16 landing parties from ships of the fleet captured the ports of Unggi, Najin, and Chongjin. The fleet’s air arm landed airborne troops at Port Arthur and Dairen, and ships of the fleet took part in the Southern Sakhalin Operation of 1945 and the Kuril Landing Operation of 1945. For their meritorious combat service, thousands of sailors and officers were awarded orders and medals, and more than 50 men earned the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, 18 ships and units of the Pacific Fleet were awarded the title of Guards, 16 ships and units were awarded the Order of the Red Banner, and 15 large units and units received honorary titles.

In January 1947 the Pacific Fleet was divided into the Fifth and Seventh fleets. The Fifth Fleet was commanded by Admiral A. S. Frolov (January 1947 to February 1950), Admiral N. G. Kuznetsov (February 1950 to July 1951), and Admiral Iu. A. Panteleev (August 1951 to January 1953). The Seventh Fleet was commanded by Admiral I. I. Baikov (January 1947 to October 1951) and Admiral G. N. Kholostiakov (November 1951 to May 1953). In April 1953 these fleets were again combined into the Pacific Fleet, which was commanded by Admiral Iu. A. Panteleev (January 1953-January 1956), Admiral V. A. Chekurov (January 1956-February 1958), Admiral V. A. Fokin (February 1958-June 1962), Admiral N. N. Amel’ko (June 1962-March 1969), and Admiral N. I. Smirnov (March 1969-September 1974). Since September 1974, Admiral V. P. Maslov has been in command of the Pacific Fleet. By a decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR dated May 5, 1965, the Pacific Fleet was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.

The Pacific Fleet is an oceangoing fleet; it has modern ships, including missile-carrying vessels, atomic-powered submarines, aircraft equipped with missiles, antisubmarine aviation, rocket-artillery coast-guard troops, and marines.

REFERENCES

Boevoi puf Sovetskogo Voenno-morskogo flota, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1974.
Tikhookeanskii flot. Moscow, 1966.

V. P. MASLOV

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