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U-boats in Soviet waters and Soviet ASW action (Baltic)

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Post 21 Mar 2019, 16:53
The naval warfare on the Eastern Front during the WW2 (Great Patriotic War) was the largest conflict involving the Soviet Navy and without doubt it was the greatest naval war ever faced by a socialist or communist nation. In five years of warfare (excluding preliminary conflicts like the Winter War), the Soviet Navy endured times of sacrifice and losses, fighting against a formidable foe and writing bloody and glorious pages of naval war history poorly known in the western world.
Decades after the end of the war, destruction and confidentiality of documents make numerous details still unknown, it is only after modern-day researches of authors that a number of false myths and wrong claims (committed by all sources, post-war) receive a neutral assessment.
Contrary to the popular western belief that the naval warfare played no real part in the war, the Soviet Navy engaged in specific operations in the different areas of competence of the Fleets (Baltic, Black Sea, Northern, Pacific, and other Flotillas).
During the decade before the war, the Soviet Navy initiated large programs of expansion with a number of warships entering service (including cruisers and destroyers): such plans not completed in time, and by the time of the Nazi invasion, the shipbuilding programs stalled or diverted to wartime emergency plans.
The Soviet leadership, wisely realized how the submarine warfare was a key of strategic success and despite all classes of warships increased in numbers, submarines received a peculiar attention (with over 200 submarines in 1941!).


Work is a cross-reference between modern Russian sources (, author Miroslav Morozov on and modern German sources (
Similar works and tables made on English-based sites ( and Wikipedia) and older English literature are not updated and contain a number of mistakes.
Image credits (c)


During the World War II, the German U-boat operations against Allied convoy was one of the most prominent naval strategic operations.
German submarines inflicted heavy losses to the Allies, focusing especially in harassing the Atlantic supply lines to the United Kingdom.
An increase of British-American anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities resulted in growing losses for the “Wolf Packs” of U-boats lurking in Atlantic and the conclusion of the Battle of the Atlantic was a strategic global victory for the Allies. On the Eastern Front, the Kriegsmarine submarine operations were relatively limited in numbers and strategic goals.

The U-boats operations in Baltic differentiated through years of war.
In 1941, the Kriegsmarine dispatched coastal submarines engaging primarily Soviet own coastal submarines (the resulting balance was 1 German and 3 Soviet losses): while interesting, it had little strategic value.

During 1942 and 1943, no U-boat attempted offensive action: the Soviet Navy was trapped in Leningrad and the high amount of mines laid by Germans to halt the Soviet submarine offensive made impossible the own German operations.

Between late 1944 and early 1945, the U-boats finally committed for a true offensive operation in Soviet waters (Gulf of Finland): the outcome turned an effective failure.
While a number of Soviet small warships sunk (especially small patrols/submarine chasers), very little was achieved in term of merchants/barges and amount of GRT sunk.
U-boats also paid a relatively high cost (compared to Arctic and Black Sea) in terms of losses, including the strategic loss of U-250 (sunk in low waters and subsequently recovered by Soviets, scoring an intelligence success).

German U-boats in Baltic suffered 6 losses and sunk or destroyed 17 Soviet ships and damaged 3 ship.
To make a full comparative analysis of victory/losses, it must be included the loss of co-belligerent Finland: minelayer Louhi, 1 merchant, 4 fishing boats lost and 1 fishing boat damaged. This make a final balance score of 3.83 : 1 between victories and losses.

The balance do not include three German U-boats sunk by Soviet action in 1945 (training vessels not employed in offensive patrols in Soviet waters).

Soviet military ships lost include submarines M-78, M-99, M-94, minesweepers T-33, T-45, T-387, four submarine chasers (BMO-512, BMO-594, MO-101, MO-105), patrol boat SKA-062, minesweeping boats n°804, n°807, self-propelled barge/landing ship SB-2, barge n°112600, tug KKO-2, motorboat VRD-96.

Submarine chasers MO-107, MO-304 and minesweeping boat n°816 suffered damages.

Interestingly no pure Soviet transport ship with cargo (merchant, tanker, etc.) sunk due German U-boat action in Baltic.


Until fall 1944, the Finnish Navy operated alongside the Kriegsmarine: the submarine component of the Merivoimat can lay claim on the record of being the ONLY Navy operating submarines during WWII with scored victories but without losing a single vessel!
Soviets lost to Finnish submarines, two own submarines (ShCh-305 and S-7), submarine chaser MO-143, 2 merchants sunk and 2 merchants damaged.
Finnish operations in 1941, while concurrent to German actions, separated because operated on different area, with different purpose (anti-convoy operation of Soviet ships leaving Hanko) and different outcome.


1941 (Tallinn Area and entry of Gulf of Finland)

23 June 1941
German submarine U-144 torpedoed and sunk Soviet submarine M-78.
Soviet submarine was a Malyutka VIbis class. Less advanced than XXII class.

26 June 1941
German submarine U-149 lightly damaged by soviet submarine chasers with depth charges. Not enough to prevent a day later the torpedoing and sinking of soviet submarine M-99.

27 June 1941
German submarine U-149 torpedoed and sunk Soviet submarine M-99.
Soviet submarine was part of the widespread Malyutka XII class

21 July 1941
German submarine U-140 torpedoed and sunk Soviet submarine M-94.
Interestingly, eight crewmembers survived swimming from the submerged wreck, while three survived being on conning tower (but none survived the war).
Soviet submarine was part of the widespread Malyutka XII class
After the attack, Soviet submarine chasers launched depth charges causing damages to U-140.

10 August 1941
Soviet submarine ShCh-307 torpedoed and sunk German submarine U-144
The victory was one of two only submarine vs submarine sinking achieved by the Soviet Navy.

Soviet painting of the sinking.
Post 21 Mar 2019, 17:07
1941 (Hanko Area and Gulf of Finland)

30 June 1941
Soviet submarine chaser MO-143 sunk on a mine laid by Finnish submarine Vesihiisi.

2 July 1941.
Finnish submarine Saukko receive slight damage after depth charging of submarine chasers after a failed attempt to attack Someri harbor. Unclear the attacker (Soviet data for 1941 lacking, possibly small MO-4 class submarine chasers).

On the same day, Finnish submarine Vesihiisi receive slight damage after depth charging of submarine chasers after a failed attempt to attack a merchant. Unclear the attacker (soviet data for 1941 lacking, possibly small MO-4 class submarine chasers).

3 July 1941
Finnish submarine Vesikko torpedoed and sunk Soviet merchant Vyborg (3183 GRT).
Interestingly it would be the only Finnish submarine torpedo-victory against a Soviet merchant, but also the only proper Soviet merchant ever lost by submarine torpedo action in the whole war in Baltic!
Soviet escorts (likely small MO-4 class submarine chasers) launched depth charges caused slight damages to Vesikko.

Photo of Vesikko, differently from other WW2-era Finnish submarines, Vesikko preserved as memorial.

5 July 1941
Soviet merchant Rasma (3204 GRT) heavily damaged by mine laid by Finnish submarine Iku-Turso. Later German motor torpedo boats destroyed her.

7 July 1941
Soviet merchant Everolanda (3379 GRT) suffered damage after striking a mine laid by Finnish submarine Vetehinen.
Sweeping the field, Soviet minesweeper T-202 Buy also suffered insignificant damage (not counted as victory).

23 July 1941
During an air raid on Finnish harbor, 3 crewmembers of Finnish submarine Vesikko and motor torpedo boat Sisu suffered wounds.
It is unclear, among the three wounded, how many sailors were submarine’s crewmembers.

5 August 1941
Soviet auxiliary minesweeper Menzhinskyi and submarine chasers MO-212 and MO-142 damaged Finnish submarine Vesihiisi with depth charges. The Menzhinskyi is the largest Soviet warship (an ex-civilian ship) confirmed to have hit with depth charges a submarine in Baltic.

7 August 1941
Soviet merchant Aksel Karl (3500 GRT) sunk by mine laid by Finnish submarine Iku-Turso.

11 August 1941
Finnish sources believe the Soviet passenger ship V. Molotov suffered damages on mines laid by Finnish submarine Vesihiisi, but she actually hit a Soviet own floating mine.
Post 21 Mar 2019, 17:11

1942 and 1943

German U-boats made no offensive or defensive patrols against Soviets during these two years of war due high dangers of minefields to block the Soviet own submarine offensives.
Finnish submarines made only defensive anti-submarine patrols searching for Soviet submarines coming out of the Gulf of Finland.

21 October 1942
Finnish submarine Vesihiisi torpedoed and sunk the Soviet submarine S-7, while on anti-submarine patrol.
The sinking of S-7 was a big loss, because the vessel proved reliable and efficient in the previous offensive campaign: 4 crewmember POW (including commander).
Interestingly, the Soviet commander Sergei Lisin (that received a “Hero of Soviet Union” award post-mortem) was so valued that once returned in fall 1944 by Finnish prison, he was not reprimanded (placed in a training section).

Photo of Vesihiisi.

Photo of S-7: a successful submarine, before the loss.

27 October 1942
Finnish submarine Iku-Turso, sailing on an anti-submarine patrol, often credited with sinking Soviet submarine ShCh-308 or ShCh-320 after a surface gunnery attack. Actually, she chased the Soviet submarine ShCh-307, suffering no damage. Recent discoveries of wrecks of both ShCh-308 and ShCh-320 reveal (by wreck location) how both sunk on naval mines.

5 November 1942
Finnish submarine Vetehinen on anti-submarine patrol, intercepted and sunk with surface ramming attack the Soviet submarine ShCh-305
It is a very rare occurrence of intentional submarine on submarine sinking achieved with ramming!

Photo of ShCh-305, only representative of “Vbis” subclass in Baltic, scored no victory before the loss.
Post 21 Mar 2019, 17:43
1944 and 1945
Gulf of Finland

15 July 1944
German submarine U-679 had a gunfire battle against the submarine chasers MO-104 and MO-105 and motor torpedo boats TK-47 and TK-57. During the battle, a torpedo fired by TK-57 barely missed the target and the U-679 damaged by gunfire with five hits and 8 WIA. Germans mistakenly claimed to have damaged a soviet unit, but none of them suffered damage.

18 July 1944
German submarine U-479 torpedoed and damaged Soviet submarine chaser MO-304

24 July 1944
Submarine U-479 lightly damaged by unidentified Soviet submarine chasers with depth charges

26 July 1944
Soviet attack planes Il-2 damaged with bombs the German submarine U-348

28 July 1944
German submarine U-475 torpedoed and damaged Soviet submarine chaser MO-107

30 July 1944
German submarine U-250 torpedoed and sunk Soviet submarine chaser MO-105. Shortly after this attack, other Soviet vessels begun chasing the submarine.
Eventually Soviet submarine chaser MO-103 identified attacked and sunk with depth charges U-250 (6 POW, including Captain).
Interestingly, the wreck sunk in low waters and Germans made attempts (artillery shelling, depth charges) to destroy the wreck/disrupt recovery attempt, without success.
German motor torpedo boat S-80 sunk on mines during a failed special mission to hit the wreck.
On the wreck, the Soviet Navy recovered the newest models of advanced German acoustic torpedoes.

It was the only confirmed sinking of enemy submarine with depth charges in Baltic (and according the modern evaluation, one of the two ones achieved by Soviets in the whole conflict).

Photo of the raised wreck of U-250: the sinking provided valuable information to the Soviet Navy.

On the same day, German submarine U-481 torpedoed and sunk Soviet minesweeping boats n°804, n°807 and damaged n°816 (all small "R" class).

31 July 1944
German submarine U-370 torpedoed and sunk Soviet submarine chaser MO-101

On the same day, Soviet attack planes Il-2 attacked with bombs the German submarine U-348. No damages but 1 MIA.

1 August 1944
Submarine U-348 lightly damaged by patrol boats SKA-83 and SKA-103 and submarine chaser MO-108 with depth charges.

5 August 1944
Soviet attack planes Il-2 lightly damaged with bombs the German submarine U-479.

24 August 1944
Finnish submarine Iku-Turso suffered light damages (but forced to return to base) after detonating small charges attached to anti-submarine net. It was effectively the only noticeable action from a Finnish submarine in 1944 and the last one of the war (Finland still allied with Nazi Germany at the time of this incident).

25 August 1944
German submarine U-242 torpedoed and sunk Soviet tug KKO-2 and motorboat VRD-96

26 August 1944
German submarine U-745 torpedoed and sunk Soviet auxiliary minesweeper T-45
After the attack, patrol boat SKA-292 attacked with depth charges and caused light damages to submarine U-745

15 September 1944
Finland leave the Axis and join the Allies.

16 September 1944
Soviet Pe-2 bombers damaged the German submarine U-1014 (2 KIA, 3 WIA).

5 October 1944
Soviet attack planes Il-2 lightly damaged the German submarine U-676 (2 WIA).

14 October 1944
Soviet Pe-2 bombers damaged the German submarine U-717 (2 KIA, 3 WIA).

Pe-2 bombers inflicted the same amount of casualties on two different U-boats in Libau harbor in few days.

15 October 1944
German submarine U-481 shelled and sunk the Finnish fishing boats Dan, Endla and Maria.

17 October 1944
German submarine U-1165 torpedoed and sunk Soviet submarine chaser BMO-512

24 October 1944
German submarine U-958 shelled and sunk Finnish fishing boat Linnea and damaged Piikkiö

28 October 1944
Finnish merchant Rigel (1495 GRT) sunk on a mine laid by German submarine U-242.
Interestingly, this was the only proper Allied merchant ship sunk by German U-boat action in Baltic during the WW2!

31 October 1944
German submarine U-958 torpedoed and sunk Soviet self-propelled barge SB-2.
Interestingly the target was part of a peculiar class of ships built in 1940, effectively the largest “landing ships” type of warship vessels serving the Soviet Navy during WW2. SB-2 was also the most valuable target likely sunk by Germans in Baltic, because it carried weapons and ammunition for Soviet landing operations in Moonsund.

18 November 1944
German submarine U-679 torpedoed and sunk Soviet patrol boat SKA-062

19 November 1944
German submarine U-481 sunk with combined torpedo and gunnery attack the Soviet barge n°112600

27 November 1944
German submarine U-479 sunk on mines at the entrance of Gulf of Finland.
Likely a floating mine from the large German own mine fields, or a survived Soviet mine laid in 1941.

28 November 1944
German submarine U-481 torpedoed and sunk Soviet minesweeper T-387.
Also reported with the hull number “331”, part of a new class of small minesweepers.

Photo of sister-ship T-352. MT class designed and built in Leningrad during the war, for deliberate purpose of cleaning the Gulf of Finland from mines

24 December 1944
German submarine U-637 torpedoed and sunk Soviet submarine chaser BMO-594

9 January 1945
German submarine U-679 sunk on mines at the entrance of Gulf of Finland.
Wreck found in position heavily mined by MT class Soviet minesweepers, but a German floating mine could also be the cause.

11 January 1945
German submarine U-745 torpedoed and sunk Soviet minesweeper T-33
Many sources report one of the many old names of the warship (including T-76).

Photo of ship serving as Lithuanian patrol ship Prezidentas Smetona, a former Type1916 WWI-era German minesweeper. Integrated in the Soviet Navy in 1940.

12 January 1945
German submarine U-370 torpedoed and sunk Finnish minelayer Louhi.
10 KIA, two Soviet submarine chasers rescued the 31 survivors.

The Finnish Navy operated few but efficient minelayers and they were active again since Finland abandoned Germany and joined the Allies.

31 January 1945
German submarine U-745 sunk on mines laid by Finnish minelayers Louhi and Routsinsalmi (barrage “Vantaa-3”).
Interestingly, the new anti-submarine barrage laid on Soviet demands (after Finland joining allies) with Soviet escort.

12 February 1945
German submarine U-676 sunk on mines laid by Finnish minelayers Louhi and Routsinsalmi (barrage “Vantaa-3”).
Interestingly, the new anti-submarine barrage laid on Soviet demands (after Finland joining allies) with Soviet escort.

9 March 1945
Soviet bombers Pe-2 and attack planes Il-2 damaged the German submarine U-351 (3 KIA, 4 WIA).

One of the most iconic Soviet aircrafts of the whole war. Sometimes Il-2 strafed enemy U-boats in Baltic, inflicting some casualties.
Post 21 Mar 2019, 17:44

1945 (Southern Baltic)

Soviet naval offensive activities presented three additional full victories (sinking) scored against German U-boats.
While important for matter of records and individual successes, these U-boats operated as training-vessels and did not engaged in offensive or defensive patrols against Soviet shipping, (thus these successes are not included in the loss/victories ratio in introduction).

24 January 1945
German submarine U-763 damaged during a Soviet air raid in Königsberg.
Scuttled five days later by Germans. Submarine was part of the training flotilla.

16 March 1945
German submarine U-367 sunk in the Bay of Danzig after striking a mine laid by Soviet submarine L-21.
The specific field of mines was quite successful (it also sunk the torpedo boats T-3 and T-5).
Submarine was part of the training flotilla.

16 April 1945
German submarine U-78 sunk close Pillau by Soviet ground artillery.
Submarine used as electricity generation plant.
Interestingly, it was the only U-boats sunk by ground artillery fire during the entire WW2!
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