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Soviet Naval Battles - Russian Republic (Dual Power) in 1917

Soviet cogitations: 317
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 22 Aug 2018, 17:34
With the February Revolution in March 1917 (at the time Russia used the different Julian calendar) and the return of Lenin from his exile, it begun the process that lead the formation of the Soviet Union. Between February and November (October Revolution) 1917, the power in Russia co-shared between the Petrograd Soviet and the Provisional Government of the Russian Republic. The fleet was nominally under control of the dual power; however, it was effectively under control of the ships’ soviets due the high politicization of the crew. During this period, the Fleet engaged the Imperial Germany and the Ottoman Empire.

While Baltic and Black Sea’s operations were important, the Russian fleet in the Northern waters was extremely small in terms of numbers and capabilities. German submarines sunk at least 8 Russian merchants off or close Norway after the February Revolution but there was no actual active warfare between Russian and German ships nor anti-submarine actions against the few U-boats operating off northern Norway.

While the Fleet did not officially sailed under red Soviet flags, the Soviet Navy fully claimed the legacy of this naval warfare (motivated by the actual siding of Soviets of ships’ sailors) and dedicated literature on it.



8 March 1917
Beginning of the February Revolution

16 March 1917
Ends of the February Revolution with the establishment of the Russian Republic under dual control of Provisional Government and the Petrograd Soviet.

28 May 1917
Russian submarine Bars lost for unknown causes, probably mine.

Photo of submarine Bars in 1915: she was lead-ship of her class, the largest, capable and most numerous Russian WWI submarines.

3 June 1917
German submarine UC-58 encountered the Russian small merchant Sten Li (227 GRT) and scuttled her.

8 June 1917
Russian submarine AG-15 sank on a diving incident during a training session. 5 crewmembers managed to survive by swimming out of the boat, but overhall 18 lost their life after an incident caused by human mistake. Submarine was quickly raised and recovered

11 June 1917
Russian submarine Lvitsa lost for unknown causes, probably mine.

6 July 1917
Russian submarine AG-14 sunk probably by mine.

Photo of AG-14. Survivors of the "American Holland" class, would serve in the Soviet Navy during WW2 in Black Sea.

26 June 1917
German submarine UC-57 sunk the Russian schooner Georg (18 GRT) and the tug Martiniemi (30 GRT) that was towing the barges Marie (87 GRT) and Tervo (58 GRT)

Photo of UC-31, of the same class that operated actively in Baltic.

7 July 1917
German submarine UC-58 sunk the Russian minesweeping boats n°11 and n°14. (Note: other sources like Navypedia indicate these boats as incomplete).

14 July 1917
German submarine UC-58 sunk the (reportedly) Finnish tug Bonus (111 GRT). At the time Finland was not an independent nation, and actually Germany would later back the White counter-revolutionary Finnish forces, a mistakes in sources is likely.

30 July 1917
Russian torpedo boat Leytenant Bukarov sunk by mines in the Gulf of Riga. Sometimes unfairly rated as “destroyer”.
Mine reportedly laid by German submarine UC-78 off Aaland Islands (also date is reported as 12 August).

Photo of sister-ship Likhoy.

15 August 1917
Russian torpedo boat Stroynyy attacked by three German FF-41 floatplanes in the Gulf of Riga, grounded and wrecked.

Photo of sister-ship Delnyy

20 August 1917
Russian auxiliary minesweeper Ilja Muroets sunk by mine laid by German submarine UC-59

3 September 1917
Russian merchant Marian (1753 GRT) damaged by artillery fire from German submarine UC-78, repaired in 1918 and transferred in Black Sea after the war.

10 September 1917
Russian tug Vims (or “Sims”) sunk by mine laid by German submarine UC-58

26 September 1917
Russian torpedo boat Okhotnik sunk in Irben Straits on German mine.

Photo of sister-ship Pogranichnik: one survivor of the class would serve as gunboat in Ladoga Lake during WW2

6 October 1917
German old torpedo boat T-54 (ex- S-54) sunk by mines.

7 October 1917
German minesweeper M-31 sunk on mines off Latvia.

Sister-ship M-39: minesweepers of large size and numerous class.

12 October 1917
Beginning of the Moon Sound Operation: the German Navy action to occupy the Baltic States attacking from the Gulf of Riga.
Overall, the German Navy employed a considerable force of 10 battleships (most of them modern dreadnaught), 11 cruisers, 50 destroyers and torpedo boats and 6 submarines.
The Russian Navy possessed only 2 old pre-dreadnaught battleships, 3 cruisers, 3 large gunboats, 21 destroyers and torpedo boats.
Russian warships actively laid numerous fields of naval mines.
On the first day of operations, German battleship Bayern heavily damaged by mine in the Gulf of Riga, while the battleship Grosser Kurfürst suffered less serious damage.

Photo of Bayern. Damaging two battleship was a good success but did not prevented the German advance and invasion of Baltic countries.
Bayern-class (only two ships) was more powerful than the König class (four ships, including Grosser Kurfürst)

14 October 1917
Russian destroyer Grom sunk in action during battle with German units in Moon Sound after hits from German battleship Kaiser.
A boarding party from German destroyer B-98 briefly boarded the abandoned sinking ship and raised the German flag but the ship abandoned due her status.
Soviet historiography long believed a sailor remained on the ship intentionally igniting an explosion to hit the German boarding party.

Photo of destroyer Grom.

16 October 1917
German submarine UC-60 shelled and sunk Russian merchant Est (1426 GRT)

17 – 18 October 1917
Battle of Moon Sound
The battle of Moon Sound was the peak of the naval campaign centered in the Gulf of Riga: the German Navy aimed to take control of the Gulf and islands to occupy the Baltic States.
At the same time, the Russian forces were politically split but the decision to face in battle the German was pressed on by the sailors soviets (despite awareness of little chances of victory) because the growing fear of a German intervention against Petrograd Soviet.
The battle was the only instance in the naval warfare history when socialist or communist manned battleship faced similar opponents in direct gunnery battle.
Two Russian pre-dreadnaught battleships, Slava and Grazhdanin faced the more powerful and modern dreadnaught battleships König and Kronprinz.
Russian battleship Slava badly damaged by German battleship König after multiple hits: she blown-up by crew to avoid capture (Russian torpedo boat Turkmenets-Stavropolskiy also torpedoed her) and intentionally blocking the northern route to exit the Gulf of Riga. Grazhdanin suffered two hits from enemy fire. In the last stage of the action, battleship König also scored one hit on Russian armored cruiser Bayan.

Impressive photo of Slava in crippled conditions before her ultimate loss. Her sacrifice was later praised by Soviet Navy' historiography due allegiance of crew to the Soviet cause.

18 October 1917
German destroyer S-64 and the smaller German old torpedo boat T-66 (ex- S-66) sunk by mine.

26 October 1917
German old torpedo boat T-65 (ex- S-65) sunk by mines.

28 October 1917
Russian submarine Gepard lost for unknown causes, probably mine.

Photo of Gepard.

29 October 1917
German battleship Markgraf damaged by Russian mine in the Gulf of Riga.

General design of König class battleships (four units: König, Grosser Kurfürst, Kronprinz, Markgraf). Two units of the class suffered damages by mine in operations, but two (including the lead-ship) proved a significant advantage for the German Navy during the clash with the Russian pre-dreadnaught.

7 November 1917
October Revolution
Soviet cogitations: 317
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 22 Aug 2018, 17:37

NOTE: During the 1917 alone, Russian submarines and destroyers sunk or seized dozens of Ottoman schooners. They are not included in this page because of the absolute scarcity of information, confirmation and details of each case: only recorded the more rare attack against larger targets or steamers.

8 March 1917
Beginning of the February Revolution

16 March 1917
Ends of the February Revolution with the establishment of the Russian Republic under dual control of Provisional Government and the Petrograd Soviet.

4 May 1917
Russian submarine Morzh possibly damaged by hits from Ottoman coastal battery. The enemy claimed sinking, but recovery of wreck disclosed loss for mine. It is still possible that Morzh suffered unspecified damages from the enemy attack.

5 May 1917
Russian submarine Morzh sunk by mine. Discovery of wreck in 2002 allowed identification of loss’ cause.
Before her loss, Morzh was notable for being an extremely active submarine in Black Sea.
(NOTE: In western sources, the submarine often reported just as missing in action).

Photo of submarine Morzh in 1915:

5 June 1917
German submarine UB-14 sunk the Russian sailing-ship merchant Kerasunda (155 GRT)(cargo: salt) with an explosive charge. The submarine just landed three Georgian nationalists on the Russian shore.

26 June 1917
Russian battleship Svobodnaya Rossiya and cruisers Pamiat' Merkuriya alongside four destroyers escorted a group of minelayers to lay fields off Bosporus.
The group encountered the Ottoman light-cruiser Midilli (German-manned, ex- “Breslau”) that also returned from a minelaying mission: destroyers Gnevnyy and Schastlivyy opened fire at excessive distance. Svobodnaya Rossiya opened fire once distance reduced, but Midilli deployed smoke screens and avoided the fight without firing. The action was the very last encounter between major warships in Black Sea, but differently from the Baltic actions, there was no return fire nor damage on engaging ships.

The Battleship received a new name after the February Revolution, previously known as “Imperatritsa Yekaterina Velikaya”

30 June 1917
Russian torpedo boat Leytenant Zatsaryonnyy sunk on mines at Fedosya. 37 KIA, the ship sunk on a mine laid by Ottoman light cruiser Midilli off Fidonisi Island.

Photo of ship before her loss.

24 July 1917
Russian submarine Tyulen sunk the Ottoman coaster Intizam (244 GRT). The ship also already suffered heavy damages in 1916.

22 September 1917
Russian submarine Tyulen intercepted and seized near Igneada the Ottoman small steamer Kozlu (851 GRT)(cargo: leather, flour, kerosene), and brought it to Sevastopol under escort of destroyers Schastlivyy and torpedo boat Zvonkiy.

Tyulen was a sister-ship of the Morzh submarine, older than the Bars class but still very active in Black Sea

11 October 1917
German submarine UB-42 attacked the Russian schooner Agios Georgios (106 GRT) opening fire with two hits scored. The schooner’s name is clearly Greek and there is little information about the actual origins. Captain was killed and a sailor wounded, before the rest of the crew left the ship. Germans scuttled the boat with explosives; she carried a cargo of wood. Submarine claimed also a larger steamer sunk the previous day, and a second merchant attacked on 12 October but both attacks have no real matches and likely were failure without real damage inflicted.

12 October 1917
Russian submarine Gagara shelled and damaged Ottoman merchant Vatan (516 GRT).
This is so far the last significant submarine victory scored by Russians after the February Revolution.

31 October 1917
Battle of Igneada
Russian destroyers Bystry and Pylkiy with support of seaplanes made an attack against the port (at border with Bulgaria) and sunk Ottoman torpedo boat Hamidabad (8 KIA, 4 WIA). On the same attack, merchant Mekke (2488 GRT) sunk and merchant Sutluce n°63 (489 GRT) damaged. This small victory was the only victory with gunnery achieved by a Russian warship after the February Revolution.

Turkish sister-ship Sultanhisar. Destroyer Bystry survived the Civil War and become "Frunze" in the Soviet Navy, sinking in 1941

7 November 1917
October Revolution
Soviet cogitations: 317
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 22 Aug 2018, 17:38
((removed section))
Soviet cogitations: 317
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 13 Oct 2020, 20:49
Large updates by German submarine actions in Baltic during 1917: main source it's Uboat-net however some entries appears to have mistakes or need further confirmation
1) Edited intro: the whole minor "Barents Sea" section was eliminated and a mention to it was made in the main intro (no real warfare activity)
2) Loss of merchant "Sten Li" by German sub. in June 1917
3) Loss of AG-15 by diving accident
4) Destruction of small convoy by German sub. UC-57 on 26 June 1917
5) Loss of minesweeping boats n°11 and n°14 on July 1917 (possibly a mistake?)
6) Loss of tug "Bonus" on July 1917 (again a possible mistake by nationality)
7) Loss of "Ilja Muroets" on August 1917 by UC-59
8 ) Damage to merchant "Marian" by shelling of UC-78
9) Loss of "Vims" by UC-58
10) Loss of merchant "Est" by submarine UC-60 in October 1917
11) Removed some claims by Russian submarine "Morzh": victories are probable, but added disclaimer over lack of information for the many successes claimed by Russian submarines on small schooners
12) Loss of "Kerasunda" by UB-14 off Georgia
13) Added info of the naval skirmish of 26 June 1917: there was no actual battle (enemy cruiser escaped without returning fire) but effectively it was the only confrontation with large Russian warships (including a Battleship) after the February Revolution in Black Sea
14) Added info for the loss of "Leytenant Zatsaryonnyy"
15) Victory for submarine "Tyulen" sinking the Ottoman merchant "Intizam" on July 1917
16) Victory for submarine "Tyulen" by seizing the Ottoman merchant "Kozlu" on September 1917
17) Mysterios loss of a (Greek-named) reportedly Russian schooner on 11 October 1917
18) Added more info for the Battle of Igneada and two extra victories: relatively large merchant "Mekke" sunk and "Sutluce n°63" damaged

German destroyer lost on 18 October 1917 in Baltic was S-64, not S-54
"Turkish" term replaced with the properly correct "Ottoman"
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