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East Germany (DDR) and Poland Cold War naval incidents.

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Soviet cogitations: 288
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 29 Sep 2018, 11:57
During the Cold War, the Navies of East Germany (DDR) and the People’s Republic of Poland were part of the naval component of Warsaw Pact in Baltic Sea.
At the beginning of Cold War, the Polish Navy retained a number of major units (including submarines and destroyers): however it was the East German Navy that begun a more advanced program of ship-building, including large-size minesweepers and motor torpedo boats developed out of WW2 German Navy designs.
In the central and later stage of Cold War, while both navies maintained local ship-building of minor units (minesweepers, patrol boats), the Poland Navy regained a priority and received major warships from Soviet Union (Submarines and Destroyers), while the East German Navy operated only minor and medium units.
Interestingly, the Poland shipbuilding grew in size during the late Cold War, designing successful landing ships and providing them to the Soviet Union.

However, while the Polish Navy engaged in few interesting Cold War incidents, the East German Navy with repetitive clashes carried on the bulk of actions against NATO units.
Early incidents of Cold War are currently poorly known: especially since the US, UK and other Western secret services are known to have secretly financed and backed saboteurs, agents and terrorists to infiltrate Poland and the very same Soviet Union in the Baltic regions. There are reasons to believe how the Soviet/Warsaw-Pact naval forces allowed these infiltrations to happens, due presence of counter-intelligence agents among the enemy ranks, leading to capture and destruction of numerous cells (in a similar way as happened for Albania).


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Unclear day 1949
Polish border-guard patrol boat Hel seized a West Germany fishing boat. After crew was expelled, the boat was never returned and was rather integrated in the Border Guard with designation DP-53. This event is quite unique, because most of Cold War incidents involving seizure or chasing of fishing boats usually resulted with the release of the fishing boats (sometimes after a fine for trespassing was paid): on this occasion, the boat wasn’t just kept but even pressed in service as a military unit.
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Interestingly, the patrol boat Hel was a pre-war unit survived the WW2. The ship now preserved as memorial, with the pre-war name Batory.



1 August 1951
Mutiny onboard the Polish hydrographic vessel HG-11 (ex-minesweeper ORP Zuraw): 12 crewmembers (of 30) took control of ship and sailed to Sweden where they asked for political asylum. Two days later the ship with the rest of the crew was returned. The incident is (so far) the only known confirmed instance of successful naval mutiny onboard a European communist Navy vessel.
Some crewmembers were sentenced to prison after the return for suspected complicity and/or failures to prevent the mutiny.
Image

The ship was a former pre-war Polish built minesweeper. Photo of sister-ship Mewa in 1937.



3 October 1962
East Germany minesweeper boat Sternberg collided with unidentified vessel in Abbotsjord.
The class designed and built in East Germany. Ex-“Raumbootes 422”



On unclear day during the Cold War
Collision between East German spy-ship Wismar with West German minesweeper Aldebaran
Image

Aldebaran (ex-R-91, in photo sister-ship of the same WW2 class)



2 November 1962
East Germany Minesweeper Dresden (Krake class) intentionally collided with the West Germany minesweeper Minden of Type 320 class. Unclear if damage occurred. The East Germany vessel was a national project (evolution of previous classes, with inspiration dating back WW2 German minesweepers). The West Germany vessel was part of the first class built in the nation, alteration of the American AMS/MSC type.



14 April 1968
East Germany passenger ship Völkerfreundschaft intentionally collided with the West Germany corvette Najade (a West-Germany designed class), after latter was recovering a defector who jumped overboard from Völkerfreundschaft.
While the East Germany vessel was civilian, incident is listed here due the nature of the incident.



On unclear day during the Cold War
Collision between East German minesweeper Berlin (Krake class) with West German motor torpedo boat Wolf. Unclear if damage occurred. The East Germany vessel was a national project (evolution of previous classes, with inspiration dating back WW2 German minesweepers).
The West German ship was a motor torpedo boat of national design.



31 August 1968
The East German motor torpedo boat Wilhelm Bänsch while following (in fog) the West German frigate Karlsruhe, collided with the Swedish ferry Drottningen and sunk, with the loss of seven sailors. It was the only confirmed naval loss of a Warsaw Pact warship during a cold war operation (chase of a NATO target, followed by collision was with a neutral vessel).
Boat was a former Soviet project 183 unit.



On unclear day during the Cold War
The East German minesweeper Leipzig (Krake class) collided with a coastal motorboat. Unclear event.
Image

The East Germany vessel was a national project (evolution of previous classes, with inspiration dating back WW2 German minesweepers).



July 1972
East Germany minesweeper Oranienburg attempted to ram the West Germany supply auxiliary tender Rhein.
Oranienburg was part of the project 89.II minesweepers class.



8 July 1980
East German patrol ship Komet rammed (slowing down while sailing ahead) the Danish patrol boat MHV-94 (later named Ringen, not a Royal Navy ship but part of the Home Guard) causing severe damages to the front hull. Komet suffered only minor damage.
Komet was a patrol variant (only 2 boats) of the larger class of project 89 minesweepers.



22 January 1983
East Germany passenger ship Völkerfreundschaft (already engaged in a Cold War incident in 1968) collided with the West Germany conventional submarine U-26 north of Rostock.
While the incident appears unintended, it seems the submarine sailing for an exercise did not wanted to be discovered thus not signaling its presence and causing the collision. Later the submarine’s commander behavior blamed for the incident. Passenger ship suffered minor damage, while the submarine suffered more heavy damage. While the East Germany vessel was civilian, the incident is reported due its nature.



24 July 1983
East Germany minesweeper Strasburg collided with West Germany surveillance ship Oker after an exercise. Damage so far only confirmed on the East Germany ship. Strasburg was part of the project 89.II minesweepers class. Oker was a former trawler.



26 July 1983
A West Germany spy-ship collided with an East Germany naval vessel.



15 June 1987
During a naval Warsaw Pact exercise, the West German auxiliary tender Neckar was observing the maneuvers near Kaliningrad when she received direct anti-aircraft 30mm fire from Polish corvettes ORP Górnik and ORP Hutnik. Four direct hits (three on starboard side and one near engine room) with a leak and fires but damage revealed to not be heavy. 3 sailors wounded. The Polish ships were firing at target drones when the West German ship sailed on the firing line. While unintentional, it was the only instance of live fire hits between NATO and Warsaw Pact ships of the Cold War.
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Photo of ORP Górnik in 2002
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Photo of Neckar and sister-ships in 1987 in Oslo. While used as tender and supply-ships, the Rhein-class units (designed and built in West Germany) received a relatively strong armament for their role (2 100mm guns and 4 40mm guns).
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