Russian Pacific Subs transferred to the Northern Fleet 1942

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Andy H
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Russian Pacific Subs transferred to the Northern Fleet 1942

Post by Andy H » 14 Feb 2021 17:58

Hi

During WW2 the Russians transferred a handful of submarines (5) from their Pacific to the Northern Fleet, out of some 85 boats in total.
They were either transferred via northern Russia or via Alaska, down through the Panama canal and on to the Artic.

Historically Russian submarines didn't achieve anything near to their western counter-parts but they did tie down German escorts in the Artic and have influence over operations undertaken in the area. The Russians knew from various intel sources that conflict with Japan in '42 wasn't on the horizon, yet it transferred very view assets to the west. The main exception being manpower, around 130,000 men serving in Naval Rifle Brigades etc.

The Russian submarines weren't technologically great and only around 30 of the Shchuka (Shch), S (Stalinets)classes were of a semi-decent calibre, though the Russians did transfer some L (Leninet) class in reality as well.

So in this ATL, the Russians decide to transfer the 30boats as outlined above (The M (Malyutka) class boats would remain with the Pacific fleet) from May'42 with an expectation that they'd arrive and be operational come the end of '42 into the first 1/4 '43. This would give them time to build up the logistical support up and around their Artic bases, plus importantly give them much needed training against German naval tactics and counter-measures.
The Royal Navy complained about the lack of Russian naval support in the region especially in relation to its Artic convoys, these 30 boats would provide a useful rebuke to that complaint. Whilst not expecting a huge Russian submarine offensive in the area, it would result in increased pressure (losses) on the limited KM assets in the area and deter KM heavy units potentially from sailing etc.

Interested in thoughts as to what they could accomplish and equally why they didn't redistribute more in reality!

Regards

Andy H

Peter89
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Re: Russian Pacific Subs transferred to the Northern Fleet 1942

Post by Peter89 » 14 Feb 2021 20:36

Hm, a question just came into my mind. Was the Swedish iron ore shipped with Swedish ships? Because then they might not be attacked.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: Russian Pacific Subs transferred to the Northern Fleet 1942

Post by Peter89 » 14 Feb 2021 20:53

A little bit of trade info between Sweden and Germany.

Real Swedish Merchandise Trade with Germany and the German Bloc, 1940‐1944, in 1938 Swedish Kronor (in millions) and breakdown in percentages
1940: 880m
Animal Products: 5.4%
Machinery: 12.1%
Metals: 19.9%
Minerals: 19.1%
Paper: 17.2%
Wood: 17.0%

1941: 862m
Animal Products: 3.0%
Machinery: 11.6%
Metals: 22.4%
Minerals: 17.4%
Paper: 20.2%
Wood: 18.3%

1942: 556m
Animal Products: 1.3%
Machinery: 13.0%
Metals: 20.4%
Minerals: 18.6%
Paper: 26.3%
Wood: 16.0%

1943: 523m
Animal Products: 0.8%
Machinery: 14.1%
Metals: 24.3%
Minerals: 25.2%
Paper: 20.0%
Wood: 11.6%

1944: 326m
Animal Products: 1.3%
Machinery: 15.8%
Metals: 20.6%
Minerals: 20.0%
Paper: 20.2%
Wood: 12.5%
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: Russian Pacific Subs transferred to the Northern Fleet 1942

Post by T. A. Gardner » 15 Feb 2021 01:33

It would really make little difference. It can reasonably be argued that the Soviet submarine force was the worst of any combatant in WW 2. The Soviets lost more submarines than they sank ships. They sank nothing significant in the way of warships and their sinking of merchants was really just pathetic on the whole. I doubt more submarines in their use would have accomplished much.

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Re: Russian Pacific Subs transferred to the Northern Fleet 1942

Post by Peter89 » 15 Feb 2021 10:07

T. A. Gardner wrote:
15 Feb 2021 01:33
It would really make little difference. It can reasonably be argued that the Soviet submarine force was the worst of any combatant in WW 2. The Soviets lost more submarines than they sank ships. They sank nothing significant in the way of warships and their sinking of merchants was really just pathetic on the whole. I doubt more submarines in their use would have accomplished much.
Also the Swedish trade declined steadily by itself.

Not to mention that the Swedish trade could be (and was) easily redirected to Luleå.

Swedish iron ore was a nice but not crucial addition to the German war effort. Ball bearings and the related machinery were much more important, but the Germans steadily increased domestic production and did not run out of their stocks before the war has ended, despite Allied bombing efforts and preemptive buying.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: Russian Pacific Subs transferred to the Northern Fleet 1942

Post by Andy H » 15 Feb 2021 16:42

.......

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Takao
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Re: Russian Pacific Subs transferred to the Northern Fleet 1942

Post by Takao » 15 Feb 2021 21:04

Well, the SHCH cal subs were relatively short ranged [3,600NM @ 7-8 knots], as opposed to the much longer ranged S- & L-classes which were transferred. Especially, since the subs that were transferred all went via the US-Panama-UK route, plus all the submarines underwent repair & refit in the UK.

Also, the vast majority of the Pacific subs were the short ranged SHCH(34) & M(37) class submarines.

Further, despite the Baltic shipping being a tempting target, the Germans had essentially sealed it off via mines & ASW assets - so much so that the Soviets evacuated several submarines from the area.

As has been mentioned, the Northern Fleet was not prepared to carry out such large scale subsurface operations logistically, and no such preparations were fourth coming. You see, the British operated a few subs with the Northern Fleet, and the area proved to be incapable of handling just those British & Soviet submarines, let alone another 30+ Soviet ones. It was so bad, that the British suggested moving some of those Soviet boats to British control. To which the Soviets verbally agreed, but this never came off.

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Re: Russian Pacific Subs transferred to the Northern Fleet 1942

Post by Andy H » 16 Feb 2021 17:41

Takao wrote:
15 Feb 2021 21:04
Well, the SHCH cal subs were relatively short ranged [3,600NM @ 7-8 knots], as opposed to the much longer ranged S- & L-classes which were transferred. Especially, since the subs that were transferred all went via the US-Panama-UK route, plus all the submarines underwent repair & refit in the UK.

Also, the vast majority of the Pacific subs were the short ranged SHCH(34) & M(37) class submarines.

Further, despite the Baltic shipping being a tempting target, the Germans had essentially sealed it off via mines & ASW assets - so much so that the Soviets evacuated several submarines from the area.

As has been mentioned, the Northern Fleet was not prepared to carry out such large scale subsurface operations logistically, and no such preparations were fourth coming. You see, the British operated a few subs with the Northern Fleet, and the area proved to be incapable of handling just those British & Soviet submarines, let alone another 30+ Soviet ones. It was so bad, that the British suggested moving some of those Soviet boats to British control. To which the Soviets verbally agreed, but this never came off.
Hi Takao

The Baltic is outside the remit of this ATL, so this is just concerned with the Northern Fleet operating in the Artic and around the Norwegian coast.

I fully accept all the shortcomings of the Russian subs.
However in reality the limited number of boats did contribute and affected KM operations, especially after the 20th Mountain Army began its retreat out of Finland.

Between Jan'43 and Oct'44 they sank or severely damaged 35 merchant ships plus 11 escort vessels and also the attack on the Tirpitz which they obviously didn't hit. They also helped escort some 4,000 Allied vessels in and out of Russian waters.
I cant help but feel that these extra 30 boats would have caused the KM additional problems and they would have certainly contributed more to the war, than sitting it out in the Far East.

Regards

Andy H

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Re: Russian Pacific Subs transferred to the Northern Fleet 1942

Post by T. A. Gardner » 16 Feb 2021 17:56

If we're talking the Northern Fleet alone, more subs in use by Russia will do little or nothing. There isn't a plethora of targets exactly for them to go after. Other than some shipping moving along the Norwegian coast, there really aren't any Axis targets to be had for them.

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Re: Russian Pacific Subs transferred to the Northern Fleet 1942

Post by Takao » 16 Feb 2021 22:03

Andy H wrote:
16 Feb 2021 17:41
Hi Takao

The Baltic is outside the remit of this ATL, so this is just concerned with the Northern Fleet operating in the Artic and around the Norwegian coast.

I fully accept all the shortcomings of the Russian subs.
However in reality the limited number of boats did contribute and affected KM operations, especially after the 20th Mountain Army began its retreat out of Finland.

Between Jan'43 and Oct'44 they sank or severely damaged 35 merchant ships plus 11 escort vessels and also the attack on the Tirpitz which they obviously didn't hit. They also helped escort some 4,000 Allied vessels in and out of Russian waters.
I cant help but feel that these extra 30 boats would have caused the KM additional problems and they would have certainly contributed more to the war, than sitting it out in the Far East.

Regards

Andy H
Well, The Soviet submarines hardly affected the 20th Mountain Army's retreat, but that did not stop the Soviets from claiming otherwise. The Soviets claimed to have sunk by submarine, 15 German ships between 12 and 31 October. The reality was that they sank only three; S-104 & V-4 each sank a German submarine chaser, and S-104 also sank the transport Lumme. Also, "limited" is a rather relative term, the Soviets had, at sea, 9 submarines in the vicinity when the retreat began; M-71, S-14, S-51, S-101, S-102, S-104, V-2, and V-4(L-20 was also at sea, but its location is unknown.)

Soviet Northern Fleet successes fluctuate by source, Polmar & Noot credit the Northern Fleet submarines with 14 sinkings for 26,169 tons during 1943, and 7 sinkings for 15,819 tons in 1944. With 36 sinkings for 38,207tons throughout the war. Mind you, these are direct attacks with torpedoes and\or gunfire, not mines.

It is also worth noting that the Soviets, during August & September, 1941, evacuated 8 submarines from the Baltic to the Northern Fleet.


Would 30 or so extra boats have helped, maybe, maybe not.
The Soviets did not really have the logistics in place to support that many boats in 1941-43...They were inadequate to handle the 8 extra submarines from the Baltic Fleet + 2 British submarines during 1941-42.

Indeed, most of the Northern Fleet submarines disruptive effect seems to have come from their minelaying submarines, with which the Soviets used to lay many minefields in German controlled waters.

Still, what submarines were with the Northern Fleet, despite their lack of successful sinkings did serve to divert a good bit of German aviation & ASW assets to protect their interests in the region.

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