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Soviet Naval Battles during Civil War (re-done)

Soviet cogitations: 3
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Nov 2017, 01:00
New Comrade (Say hi & be nice to me!)
Post 18 May 2018, 17:36
According to Navypedia all of the Finnish C class torpedo boats were "returned' to the soviets, but actually were sold back to Finland & scrapped in place
Soviet cogitations: 312
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 18 May 2018, 21:59
According to Navypedia all of the Finnish C class torpedo boats were "returned' to the soviets, but actually were sold back to Finland & scrapped in place

Navypedia is a very good site but not perfect. Finnish sources fully confirm the ice-crushing incident.
Soviet cogitations: 312
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 05 Sep 2018, 09:51
* Multiple updates for Baltic Sea section:
Inserted early action: the notorious Aurora partecipation during October Revolution, losses of German units from November 1917 (effectively during the new
Soviet rule) including a submarine, losses of newly-controlled Soviet ships since November 1917.
Refined information and details of loss of Soviet submarine Edinorog.
Removed the incident between Soviet ship Jermak vs Finnish White ship Sampo (it will be detailed in a proper page of Finnish Civil War)
Inserted information about the important "Ice Voyage"
Inserted activity of British submarines in May and June 1919 (failed attacks)
Refined information and details of loss of Soviet submarine Ugor.
* Inserted the loss of a White steamer in Caspian Sea (10-Nov-1918) due sabotage
* Inserted a reported loss for a midget-submarine in Danube River section
* Inserted for Black Sea Sections two submarine actions: a German seizure of a Soviet schooner in 1918 and a White success with gunfire (damage only) on a Soviet guard boat
Soviet cogitations: 312
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 27 Jan 2019, 11:29

Differently for what occurred years later during the WW2, Ladoga Lake during the Russian Civil War saw no real naval engagement.
Soviet forces deployed a flotilla to support ground operations, but Finnish forces had no Flotilla nor use of motorboats or transport boat.

27 June 1919
Soviet units accomplished a naval bombardment on Finnish forces located in Vidlitsa and Tuloska and the operation followed by landing of troops.
Finnish forces retreated north and the Soviet units received orders to not pursue the enemy.
During the action, the small destroyers Amurets and Ussuriets were the most prominent Soviet units.

Photo of Amurets. While successful the action saw no meeting with enemy units.


Compared to Ladoga Lake operations, the activity on Onega Lake was more important and saw more combat action, the enemy operated both a British flotilla of small boats, some White units and a group of seaplanes; however the activity lacked to materialize in a large battle. It is worth to stress that enemy morale on the Onega front was very low: mutinies were common among White units and a similar episode occurred also among the British contingent!

1 June 1919
Soviet small gunboat n°5, towing a steamboat with 20 Soviet soldiers, briefly engaged against an enemy armed boat. There were no hits on either side.

4 June 1919
Soviet small gunboats n°4 and n°6 engaged with a more heavily armed White armed boat, soon joined by a second armed boat. Once again no reported hit

5 June 1919
Soviet small gunboats n°4, n°6 and n°8 landed a small party of troops north of Tolvuya, but were soon engaged by four White armed boats. Once more no hits reported and the Soviet re-embarked the troops.

28 June 1919
Soviet hydrographic vessel Slutskyi sunk by White ground artillery close the Unitsa village after approaching the shore, unaware the village was in White hands

20 July 1919
Mutiny among White troops on the Onega Front, switching side and joining the Red Army, causing great trouble for the overall White northern front.

1 August 1919
The largest naval clash in Onega Lake and only true surface engagement involved the Soviet small gunboats n°2, n°6 and the small patrol boats n°3 and n°6 (same identification number of small gunboat).
British seaplanes attacked the group until gunboat n°6 suffered damage by bomb explosion (10 WIA, including commander).
Small gunboat n°2 exhausted all ammunition and received damage by seaplane’s bomb until attacked at point-black by White armed boats: after further hits, she grounded.
Shortly later, small patrol boat n°3 suffered the very same fate, but it is unclear if damage inflicted by British seaplane or White armed boat. Soviet sailors of n°2 and n°3 fled the grounded boats through the nearby forest. The Whites recovered small gunboat n°2 and placed her in service (named Silnyi).

Photo of one of the extremely small class of gunboats (de-facto no more than simple riverine launches: 7 crewmembers and armed only with one machinegun)

Some British source speak about the loss of Soviet small destroyer Storozhevoyi, but this is clearly false and they just mixed up the loss of n°2 with the real presence of the small destroyer (from 1 July to 15 October, with little real activity).

5 November 1919
Medvezhyegorsk Operation
The Soviet Flotilla organized a large landing operation at Medvezhyegorsk , the last White stronghold at the very northern tip of Onega Lake.
Ship engaged were the netlayers Yauza and Berezina, small gunboats n°1, n°4, n°5, n°6, n°7, n°8, patrol boats n°2 and °4, floating battery n°2, disembarking 840 troops.
The operation involved shelling on ground target. While British boats have been already retreated to Archangelsk, the only enemy warship left was the small gunboat Silnyi (ex- Soviet n°2 recovered on 18 August by Whites).
Crew scuttled her to prevent capture, without putting a fight against the more numerous Soviet vessels, but effectively it was the only Soviet naval success on Onega Lake (forcing enemy to scuttle in face of imminent combat or seizure).

7 November 1919
During operations at Medvezhyegorsk the Soviet small gunboat n°7 received hits from survived enemy ground artillery and grounded.
In addition, n°3 suffered damage, while n°6 did not. Out of logistic difficulties the Soviet re-embarked troops and retreated and scuttled n°7, however the combat operations in Onega Lake was over with the subsequent further retreat of the White Army toward Archangelsk.

Information about warfare into Baikal Lake is scarce and fragmented. It appears however that was likely the most inland “naval” warfare ever occurred in modern history alongside the WW-I Operations in Lake Tanganyika between British, Belgian and German ships!

16 August 1918
Battle of Lake Baikal
Often incorrectly described as the only Czechoslovak naval battle (similar operations occurred also in Volga River), it was nevertheless the largest one and the most significant single action occurred in Lake Baikal.
Czech armed ships Sibirjak and Fedosia attacked the Soviet-controlled Mysova harbor: they initiated a bombing, inflicting damages to the train station.
The main Soviet defense was the armed ship Baikal, she was a large icebreaker ferry, converted for military purpose with weapons, but despite her attempt to return fire, she suffered hits and sunk. Czech ships retreated, on the way back they briefly encountered the Soviet armed ship Angara but no engagement occurred.
It appears Soviets did not properly identified the enemy attacking ships: some Soviet report speak about enemy gunfire from floating batteries/rafts as possible cause of Baikal’s loss.

Photo of ship in 1911. The Baikal was an impressive ship of large size and dual original intended purpose (ferry and icebreaker): it is very likely the high visible profile was a reason of her loss, in addition to the same size, making the vessel less maneuverable compared to the Czech ships.

Interestingly, the poorly known naval campaign in Baikal Lake was the only one resulting in a Soviet defeat: the conflict however centered on ground warfare.
Eventually the Czechoslovak Legion (a formidable force of ex POWs originally trained by czarist Russia against A.H. empire), made the controversial decision to betray the Whites: in 1920 they captured the White leader Admiral Kolchak, handing him to the Soviets and receiving permission to evacuate from Siberia after an armistice.
Soviet cogitations: 312
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 27 Jan 2019, 13:25
1) Added a proper Intro description
2) Inserted last post with Lakes warfare
3) Added one extra-source specific on Dvina river.
4) Arctic/Dvina River: re-worked and detailed a victory scored on floating battery on 20/Oct/18: now fully confirmed and known it was manned by Canadians.
5) Arctic/Dvina River: rAnti-aircraft victory: fully confirmed and detailed the success of 12/Nov/18
6) Arctic/Dvina River: Anti-aircraft victory: fully confirmed and detailed the success of 14/July/19
7) Danube River: refined the fate of midget-submarine n°3 (simply abandoned)
8 ) Black Sea: large rework of fight of 10/June/18: the enemy lost ship was an Austria-Hungary vessel (not German!)
9) Black Sea: Inserted one Soviet claim of ground shelling (20/Jul/20)
10) Black Sea: Added details at the end of the page of Soviet submarines.
11) Caspian Sea: refined details of 8/Aug/19, with names for two of the alleged Soviet corsair-ships.
12) Baltic: inserted other two attacks on Soviet subs on 31/Dec/18 and 19/Jul/19
13) Baltic: inserted likely encounter between Soviet minesweeper and CMB units on 30/Jul/19
14)Baltic: Anti-aircraft victory: loss of British plane on 26/Aug/19 (cause unclear)
15)Baltic: Inserted multiple air losses for British in October 1919
Soviet cogitations: 312
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 06 May 2020, 21:32


(Note: Oka River is tributary to Volga, but the riverine actions centered entirely on an independent anti-Soviet uprising of the SR Party, unrelated to White ships).

5 November 1918
A Socialist-Revolutionary Party uprising occurred near the village of Kistrus, with the rebel ships Hannibal and Spartan temporarily capturing four boats and 7 tugs. They also looted the steamers Vityaz and Lastochka of arms and ammunition originally destined to the Red Army.

13 November 1918
Crewmembers detained on their own ships disarmed the guards and regained control, sailing away. It’s not clear which ships managed to free themselves.

14 November 1918
Soviet armed steamer Ryazan (armed with 47mm guns) dispatched to suppress the uprising: she successfully regained control of all the ships, including Hannibal and Spartan.


1 September 1919
By personal action of a single sailor, the White armed ship Irtysh was boarded by Red Army party when close the shore, after the sailor alerted of the ship’s presence. Interestingly, the ship was loaded with large amount of coins and jewels.

2 September 1919
After the seizure of Irtysh, White armed ships Alexander Nevsy and Tyumen went searching for the missing ship having no clue of what happened.
A fight begun with White armed ship Alexander Nevsky seized and boarded after suffering damages. According Soviet sources the sailor who instigated the rebellion onboard Irtysh died during the fight (Seaman “Vodopyanov” was actually the young Checka agent Konstantin Vronsky who faked his own death). Tyumen suffered some damages and retreated.
Soviet sailors of Irtysh wanted to rename their ship “Vodopyanov” after their supposedly fallen comrade but by 3 September 1919 the two captured ships were renamed Spartak and Karl Marx.

14 September 1919
Soviet armed ship Karl Marx (ex- Alexander Nevsky) engaged and sunk during a battle with the White armed ships Altay and Maria, while Spartak (ex-Irtysh) sunk after multiple hits scored by White Seaplanes. However, Spartak was quickly raised in October 1919 even if used only for auxiliary services.

7 July 1920
During a Green Army takeover at Kolyvan, the naval Checka agent Konstantin Vronsky again played a vital role when he was onboard the steamer Bogatyr transporting 52 members of local villages Soviet committees. He managed to convince the Green Army soldiers that he was one of them, and with this new position he organized the recapture of the ship: 16 Green guards died. The Bogatyr managed to escape and reach Tomsk despite being briefly chased by the Green armed tug Melnik. The escape of the ship and the lives of the passengers was highly celebrated. Once again the Checka agent had a ship (indirectly) named after him, Bogatyr was renamed “Dzerzhinsky” after the leader of Cheka.

Photo of the steamer Bogatyr before the war.


1 October 1920
The White armed boat Minusenok strafed with machine-gun fire a Soviet ferry carrying cavalrymen until it run aground. This was the only notable naval incident inside the Yenisei river, the next day the same armed boat engaged and suffered damages from Soviet ground artillery and machine-guns fire.
Soviet cogitations: 312
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 06 May 2020, 21:34
New chapter for minor events occurred on other rivers added. On these rivers (Ob and Yenisei), only the White Army operated small local Flotilla, so there was no direct Soviet opposing Flotilla, however few episodes occurred. On Oka river also there was no real naval warfare, but an anti-soviet uprising led to some riverine incidents.
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