Naval War

The German naval campaign in the Baltic Sea was one of Germany’s most successful military efforts of the entire Second World War. For most of the Second World War, the Baltic Sea was a virtual German lake. The most successful year for the Germans in the Baltic Sea was 1943. In that year, not one Soviet ship or submarine made it past the anti-submarine net the Finns and the Germans had erected from Helsinki to Tallinn. In the end, in the Spring of 1945, the German Kriegsmarine under Großadmiral Karl Dönitz was able to evacuate nearly 2.5 million Baltic and German civilians and soldiers from Baltic shores to safety in northern Germany despite vigorous attempts by the Soviets to prevent just that from happening. This operation, the last of the once mighty Kriegsmarine, would be the largest sea-rescue operation in history. The German live streaming solutions navy started and ended the naval war in the Baltic Sea supporting the German Army to meets its operational objectives.

Marinekommando Nord under the command of Admiral Claasen and headquartered in Kiel, had the following forces at its disposal for Barbarossa:

Battleships

    • : Schlesien and Schleswig-Holstein (they did not participate in any attacks though)

Submarines

    • : 22nd U-Bootflotilla, Korvettenkapitän Ambrosius commanding (U140, 142, 144, 145, and 149)

Minesweeper group

    • : Grille, Preussen, Skagerrak and Versailles

Minesweeper group Nord

    • : 5th, 15th, 17th, 18th and 31st Sweeper Flotillas

Sperrbrecher group

    • : 6th, 8th and 138th

Submarine chasers

    • : 11th Submarine chaser flotilla, 11th and 12th Räumbooteflotilla

Naval Group “D”

    • : Minesweeper group “Cobra”, 1st Torpedoboat flotilla (S26, 39, 40, 101, 102, and 103) 5th Torpedoboat flotilla (S27, 28, 29, 45 and 47), Half of the 5th minesweeper flotilla (R56, 57, 58, 60, 61 and 62), Base ships Carl Peters and Tsingtao, 3rd Finnish coastal partol flotilla (V304-308 and V310- 314), Ilmarinen, Väinämöinen, Hämeenmaa, Karjala, Turunmaa and Uusimaa, 3 submarines and some lesser ships

 

Opposing them were the following Soviet forces:

3rd Battle Group

    • :

Battleships

    • : Marat and Oktyabraskaya Revolustiya

Destroyers

    •  (flotilla leaders): Leningrad and Minsk

Destroyers

    • : Artyom, Engels, Jakov Sverdlov, Kalinin, Karl Marx, and Volodarsky

Light Battle Group

    • :

Cruisers

    • : Kirov and Maksim Gorkiy

1st Destroyer Division

    • : Gnevnoy, Grodnoy, Grozhjashtshy, Smetlivoy and Steregushtshy

2nd Destroyer Division

    • : Storozhevoy, Stoiky, Silnoy and Sereditoy

 

    • And all former Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian merchant and navy ships.

 

The German submarine bases named Krefeld and Seeburg were established in Saaristomerre, Finland.

Germany began the Baltic Sea campaign by laying a number of minefields just prior to and right after 21 June 1941. Specifically, the Germans laid three minefields in proximity to German waters – Wartburg I minefield off of the coast of Klaipeda (Memel), Wartburg II minefield between Karlskrona, Sweden, and Klaipeda (Memel), and Wartburg III minefield off of the Gotland coast close to Swedish waters. The primary purpose of these minefields was to prevent the Soviet Baltic Sea Fleet from attacking the vital German-Swedish commerce routes. In addition to establishing these mine fields, Helsinki became a German forward-area naval base. The Wartburg mining efforts were successful as they caused the Soviet navy to take heavy losses in the early days of the war.

Although the Kriegsmarine had started its minelaying campaign in the Baltics a few days before Barbarossa, the first official naval action between the Germans and the Soviets took place at 0345 hours, 22 June 1941. The German torpedoboats S59 and S60 sunk the ex-Latvian steamer (now in Soviet colors) not far off of the Gotland coast. On 23 June 1941, S43 was sunk off of the Hiiumaa coast. A few days later, S101 was also lost near Hiiumaa island. That same day, the Soviet cruiser “Maksim Gorkiy” hit a German 250kg mine in the Apolda mine field. She made it to Tallinn, was made seaworthy again and proceeded to Kronstadt a few days later. On 28 June 1941, five German S-boats boldly entered Liepaja harbor and took the port. The German 291.Infanterie-Division arrived a day later.

In addition to the Baltic Sea, minor naval engagements also took place on Estonia’s Lake Peipus. In 1915, the Russian first formed a small fleet on Lake Peipus. During the interwar period, Tartu was the home of the Estonian Lake Peipus Fleet. The largest vessels were approximatley 140 ton gunboats armed with 102mm, 75mm and 47mm guns. All of these-Estonian boats were heavily damaged through Luftwaffe attacks. Once the Germans had secured the area, they repaired all of the boats for continued use.