Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Monday, February 02, 2004

This is coolbert: As I said in a previous post, the Russian Czarist Navy was reputed to be the most brutal and harsh of the Czarist military forces. During Soviet times, this tendency for brutality and harshness not only seems to have continued, but perhaps was even more severe. Suvorov comments that, "mutinies aboard Soviet vessels are far from rare". A draftee, if his luck was bad, might get assigned to the Navy and have to spend four years on active duty! At least twice I have seen mention of such mutinies occurring. Once in the early sixties it is reputed that the enlisted of a Soviet destroyer in the Baltic mutinied and overpowered their officers. Set sail for Sweden with the hoped for defection, en masse. This destroyer was intercepted by other Soviet vessels en route and the enlisted overpowered by boarders, the defectors being stopped in their tracks. Personally I doubt the Swedes would have given asylum to the defectors anyhow. Too much politics involved. Fear of Soviet reprisal, etc. But the enlisted on that ship must have been game and felt the try was worth the risk. All of the captured mutineers were subsequently executed. Taken in small groups to various Soviet naval bases and executed in front of their assembled peers. The total number executed must have numbered in the hundreds. On another occasion, a Soviet nuclear submarine was seen to surface and the bodies of dead crew members laid out on the deck of the sub. Pictures taken from circling aircraft showed the dead had either been shot or clubbed and beaten in a horrific manner. Something really bad must have happened on that sub. Probably a mutiny suppressed by officer staff [I bet the officers were the only ones on the ship allowed to carry sidearms].

Now, as to the destroyer that was commandeered by the enlisted who hoped to sail to Sweden and freedom. The question was asked as to why, when intercepted by other Soviet vessels, the enlisted did not fight back? Well, it has been proposed that the enlisted did not know how to use the weaponry of the destroyer. Fire the guns, missiles, etc. This was a job only the officers could do. The enlisted could not fight back as they did not know how to do so!

The conditions the Soviet naval crews had to deal with were extremely harsh, just from an environmental standpoint. A crewmember of a submarine stationed with the Northern Fleet, had to do duty for six months straight, and this all could be done during hours of darkness, due to the northern latitude of the homebase, Murmansk. A crewmember of a sub may make a three month long voyage on patrol, come back to base, and not see the sun for three more months! This results in depression and a diminution of performance. To counter this, the sub crews would reportedly be sent to the Black Sea, residing at a resort for six months, just sitting on the beach and listening to recordings of birds singing!


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