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Soviet Naval Battles - Caspian Sea operations in 1991

POST REPLY
Soviet cogitations: 291
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 28 Oct 2018, 20:25
With the political crisis, the retreat from Afghanistan and the general problems faced by the Soviet society at the end of 1980’s, the Soviet Union faced what is sometimes considered the true only “Civil War” inside the border of the nation before the eventual downfall of the state. The rise of local nationalisms, often fueled by the western and European campaign, took a bloody path in Azerbaijan. Local nationalists aimed both at the separation from the Soviet Union but also committed a genocide on the Armenian population in Baku City (nowadays known as the “Baku pogrom”). After initial shock and surprise for such events, the Soviet government engaged to secure the city, disarm the militants and prevent further massacres on the Armenians. It is worth to note that Armenian nationalists, distrustful of the Soviet government, also engaged in a limited guerrilla movement quickly attacked by the local Soviet forces. Western sources allegedly claim the Soviet Union officially sided with Azerbaijan against Armenian but this is quite a wrong statement as it is equally wrong to claim it existed an official or semi-official war status between the Armenian and the Azerbaijan Soviet republics.

The operations in Baku were effectively among the last Soviet naval combat activities of the before the downfall. Most of these actions done by the Border Guard, and not by the Soviet Navy’s Caspian Flotilla (to the author’s knowledge: many data still fragmented and poorly confirmed). The real last war actions (including artillery fights) by the Soviet Navy occurred in Eritrea: viewtopic.php?f=149&t=55043).

Sources include the magnificent work done by (c)Alexander Rosin on the russian blog http://alerozin.narod.ru

NOTE: Information/Help to identify the Soviet boats involved in actions is WELCOME

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19 / 20 January 1991
Azerbaijani militants seized in harbor a number of ships. Some local crewmembers apparently joined willingly their “cause” (even if cannot be dismissed the Soviet view that some were forced).
While the militants never attempted to arm the vessels, they intended to use the ships as a “naval blockade” and/or threatening the sinking for press propaganda purpose.


20/21 January 1991
A first clash occurred when the Soviet vessel numbered “496” (unclear the type) encountered the militant-controlled crane-ship Cheleken-1 (3544 GRT). The boat suffered gunfire hit with moderate damage and no casualties.


21 January 1990
Militant-controlled supply ship Neftegaz-10 (2737 GRT) rammed the smaller Soviet hydrographic vessel GS-194 (project 871). Soviet crewmembers opened fire with AK-74 submachine guns to attempt deter the assault, but after avoiding the hostile vessel with maneuver, GS-194 suffered minor damages to the stern. The hydrographic ship carried onboard 167 civilians (including women and children).

Militant-controlled offshore supply ship Neftegaz-64 (2723 GRT) and B.Babaze attempted attacking Soviet hydrographic vessels evacuating civilians but repelled by gunfire from project205P patrol boats of Border Guard: the first vessel suffered minor damage.


22 January 1991
Convoy Evacuation
Militant-controlled ships attempted further ramming assaults against Soviet vessels: the units involved tug Aktau (422 GRT) supply ship Neftegaz-10 (2737 GRT), supply ship Neftegaz-18, offshore supply ship Neftegaz-64 (2723 GRT), 40 let Komsomol, reported light damages. Other Militant-controlled ships mobilized but not directly reported as engaged in confrontation: crane-ship Shirvan (2882 GRT), water tanker Vodoley-4 (637 GRT) (also translated in English “Aquarius-4”), merchant Sabit Orudzhev (4110 GRT). In addition, B.Babaze reported incoming fire from Soviets, while militants claimed damage on Aktau included a leak while Vodoley-4.
Militant sources report live gunfire from Soviet warships but this is false and actually Soviet ships restrained and opened fire only with light weapons at hulls, thus avoiding casualties. Reports on damages on Aktau and Voldosky-4 appears deliberately exaggerated.
Soviet hydrographic ships and other unarmed vessels engaged in evacuating civilians, under protection of project205P patrol boats of Border Guard. The captain of patrol boat PSKR-610 (project 205P) awarded for the successful operation.
Image
Photo of a Project205P class


24 January 1991
Soviet ground forces stormed a number of seized vessels from the piers in Baku and arrested militants. Most of the re-seizures occurred with little resistance and there were no victims among militants. Azerbaijani propaganda press stating Soviet ships opened fire on the vessels, sometimes inflicting moderate to heavy damages, are fabricated and this is corroborated by absence of lack of casualties.


25 January 1991
The militant-controlled crane-ship Atlet-24 (1387 GRT) escaped seizure in harbor, intercepted on sea by Soviet Navy (or Border Guard) vessel bearing the number “1383” (unclear class). After firing on air (without result) to stop the ship, a boarding occurred followed by the reclaiming of the ship and the capture of the militants. Effectively this was the solely full naval victory (seizure in open sea by boarding) achieved by the Soviet Navy into the very same Soviet waters since the Civil War (interestingly, the Caspian theatre during the naval warfare of Civil War was rich of seizure-boarding attacks).
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