Transport ships of USSR in 1941-1945 - any info!!

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Large timber ships became military transports during WWII

Post by BIGpanzer » 20 Jul 2005 18:43

………Soviet large timber ships of “Volgoles” type were used very widely as military transport ships during WWII.
Specifications: 111,1 x 15,7 m; 8130 t; 1800 hp diesel; 10,5 knots; 34 men crew.
15 large timber ships of this type were built in 1930-1935 by Admiralty shipyard and North shipyard (Leningrad) + 2 were rebuilt as transports for ore and coal in 1936. They were used on Black Sea-Baltic Sea-North Sea routes in 1930s, also on Far-Eastern routes.

Four timber ships were reequipped for locomotive transportation from USA to USSR during WWII. American engineers from Portland reequipped the ships, which could carry 18 steam locomotives with tenders each, according to the recommendations of Soviet engineers. Those ships played a great role in Lend-Lease locomotive delivery to USSR through Pacific Ocean, Bering and Japanese Seas.

The crew of timber ship “Stary bolshevik” (“Old communist” in some sources) became famous after the heroic navigation in May 1942 (convoy PQ-16). The ship (armed with 3 cannons, 4 heavy MG and 2 "Maxim" MG) went from Boston to North Russia, transporting 5000 t of shells, bombs and explosives. It was attacked by 9 German bombers and was heavily damaged by bomb. The ship was enveloped in flames and monstrous explosion (5000 t of explosions on board, first nuclear bomb corresponded to 15000-20000 t!) could be happen every second. British destroyer could take wounded Soviet sailors from lifeboats, but the rest Soviet crew (many of the crew members were women) decided to save the ship and remained on board under the new German attacks (total 47 air attacks during the navigation!). The convoy left the doomed ship. But crew (captain I. Afanasiev) could repair the diesel, extinguished the strong fire and even brought down the German bomber and damage German submarine by the ship light artillery and MG fire. In three days the burnt ship with completely destroyed superstructures and masts could came up with convoy. The British convoy commander commodor Perry was amazed with the heroism of Soviet sailors from “Old communist” and immediately radioed about that to London, all ships from the convoy saluted to Soviet sailors. The captain, mate and steersman became the Heroes of Soviet Union.

Some info about other timber ships of the type “Volgoles” (“Volga timber”):
1. “Volgoles” – was interned at German port Stettin after the beginning of Soviet-German war (22 June 1941). The crew was arrested by Germans.
2. “Dvinoles” – sank on 4 February 1942 (North Atlantic, 80 miles from Newfoundland Island) after the collision in fog with Norwegian steamer during the convoy navigation from USA to USSR. All Soviet crew was rescued by another Norwegian ship.
3. “Komiles” – was used as reequipped military transport for locomotive transportation from USA to USSR (Pacific Ocean, see above). Survived the war. "Komiles" was lost near Kuril Islands in 1948.
4. “Sevzaples” – was used as reequipped military transport for locomotive transportation from USA to USSR (Pacific Ocean, see above). Survived the war, removed from service in 1972.
5. “Kuznets Lesov” – was sunk on 23 November 1942 (North Atlantic, Greenland Sea). The ship made navigation together with convoy QP-15 and lost touch with convoy because of strong storm, so it continued the navigation alone. It was torpedoed by German submarine U-601, all crew was lost.
6. “Klara Cetkin” – was used as reequipped military transport for locomotive transportation from USA to USSR (Pacific Ocean, see above). Survived the war. The ship was given to the Ministry of Fisheries in 1970.
7. “Exportles” – military transport. Survived the war.
8. “Lesbel” – military transport. Survived the war.
9. “Maxim Gorky” – was used as reequipped military transport for locomotive transportation from USA to USSR (Pacific Ocean, see above). Survived the war, removed from service in 1971.
10. “Stary bolshevik” – it was used for military cargo transportation (guns, ammunition, fighters, medicaments) during the Spanish Civil war. Heroic ship of WWII (see above). Survived the war, removed from service in 1969.
11. “Murmanles” – military transport. Survived the war.
12. “Uralles” – was sunk on 29 October 1941 near Evpatoria (Black Sea) by German bombers during the evacuation of civilians.
13. “Ivan Papanin” (military transport No. 505) – was sunk on 29 August 1941 (Finnish Gulf, Baltic Sea) during the convoy navigation from Tallinn. The ship transported more than 3000 soldiers and 200 trucks. It was attacked by German bombers and was heavily damaged by two bombs. Near 70 men were killed in fire (including the captain), but the ship could reach the shore and more than 2500 soldiers were rescued. Next day the damaged and burnt ship sank.
14. “Karl Lepin” – it was used for military cargo transportation (mainly I-15 fighters) during the Spanish Civil war. Military transport during WWII. Survived the war.
15. “Vtoraya pyatiletka” (military transport No. 543). The ship was sunk on 30 August 1941 (Finnish Gulf, Baltic Sea) during the convoy navigation from Tallinn by German bombers (more than 15 attacks). Patrol boats rescued the crew and 2500 soldiers.
16. “Polina Osipenko” – transport for ore and coal, rebuilt timber ship. The ship was heavily damaged on 13 August 1941 by German bombers (Black Sea) during the navigation from Nikolaev with cargo and 1000 civilians on board. The burning ship could reach the shore and sank. Almost all men were rescued (9 were lost). In 1968 the ship was raised by divers and scraped.
17. “Anatoly Serov” – transport for ore and coal, rebuilt timber ship. Survived the war.

Photo of the Soviet large timber ship of "Volgoles" type (17 copies, 1930-1936)
is from http://www.ravnenie-na-pobedu.ru/region ... rs/me3.jpg

This is "Stary bolshevik"
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Post by BIGpanzer » 21 Jul 2005 01:10

Today I found also the short info about "Kuban" transport ship, which made many dangerous navigations at Black Sea during WWII. Does somebody know the type of that ship and can help me with its photo/picture?

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Post by BIGpanzer » 23 Jul 2005 11:59

What I could only find that "Kuban" was a previous refrigerator ship, which was used as military transport during WWII (Black Sea). It had 6830 t, 103 m x 14,8 m; 2200 hp diesel and 13 knots. Four such ships were built by Admiralty shipyard (Leningrad) in 1929-1932, they were used mainly at Mediterranian and Black Seas routes before WWII.

I found also the info that two refrigerators of that type ("Kuban" and "Neva") were the first Soviet ships, which delivered cargos from USSR to Republican Spain during the Spanish Civil war in 1936.

Refrigerator "Rion" (also the same type of ship) was used at Pacific Ocean for Lend-Lease cargos transportation from USA to USSR during the whole WWII. Interesting, that 99,2% of military transportation by Soviet ships during WWII were made through the Pacific Ocean (single ships, not convoys) and only 0,4% were made through Atlantic Ocean (single ships and convoys). Soviets used near 300 transport ships at Pacific Ocean, 23 were lost (5 or 6 of them were torpedoed by USA submarines by mistake).

"Volga" transported military cargos through Atlantic Ocean to North Russia (PQ-QP convoys).

"Kuban" was used as military transport at Black Sea since 1941 and transported cargos, ammunition and landing troops under strong bombardments. Its captain was killed during the first dangerous navigation with landing troops to Feodosia, all survived 27 crew members were awarded with medals. In February 1942 "Kuban" was damaged by mine, but was towed to the port and repaired. The ship was sunk on 2 July 1942 at Novorossiysk port by German bombers (77 German bombers attacked the port that time). "Kuban" was raised by divers in 1944 and scrapped.

The other three ships of that type survived the war.

Can anybody help me with the photos of that ship, please?
I found only one good colour picture of "Kuban" refrigerator ship (military transport during WWII).

Picture of the Soviet refrigerator ship of "Volga" type (4 copies, 1929-1932)
is from http://techmol.narod.ru/TM/IST_SER/1976/s11_.jpg
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Post by BIGpanzer » 23 Jul 2005 23:03

It is interesting that Soviets built in 1930s mainly the diesel transport ships, not steam.............

I found just now the short info about "Anatoly Serov" military transport ("Volgoles" type timber ship, see my post from 20 July). It was armed with 6x45mm, 3x22mm and 10 MGs in June 1941 and was used for military cargos transportation and evacuation of equipment and civilians from Black Sea ports. The ship participated in Odessa and Sevastopol defence, also in Kerch-Feodosya landing operation. During 15 months it transported 7700 t of ammunition, 650 tanks and cars, 7500 civilians and 11000 wounded soldiers. "Anatoly Serov" was attacked 95 times by German torpedo-bombers and its crew brought down 3 bombers by AA fire. In May 1942 the ship was heavily damaged by 5 bomb direct hits at Sevastopol, but the crew could repair the ship and reached Novorossiysk port, where it was damaged again by additional bomb hit. The destroyed ship could make a new navigation to Sukhumi, where it was completely repaired during 7 months. Till 1945 it transported military cargos for Soviet troops. 5 men from the crew were killed and 15 were wounded during the war. In April 1949 the ship was exploded on old WWII mine and sank.

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Ships of "Tsurupa" type

Post by BIGpanzer » 24 Jul 2005 16:14

Some info about Soviet dry cargo ships of “Tsurupa” type – they were used widely as military transport ships during WWII at Black Sea.
Specifications: 86,7 m x 12,1 m; 4740 t; 1200 hp diesel; 10,3 knots; 1300 miles; 25 men.
9 were built in 1930-1941 by Nikolaev and Sevastopol shipyards: “Tsurupa”, “Skvortsov-Stepanov”; “Nogin”, “Anri Barbus”, “Chapaev”, “Ulianov”, “Pugachev”, “Timiryazev” and “Lepse”.

“Timiryazev” transported cargos from USSR to Republican Spain during the Spanish Civil war. On 30 August 1938 it was sunk at Mediterranean Sea near Algeria by torpedoes from Spanish destroyer. The lifeboat with crew was rescued by Algerian ship. But, probably, that "Timiryazev" was a cargo ship of another type, because some sources report that dry cargo ship "Timiryazev" ("Tsurupa" type) was built only between 1939-1941.

“Chapaev” made dangerous navigations from Novorossiysk to Odessa during the defense of Odessa, transporting in all 8000 soldiers, 72 cannons and Katyushas, 120 cars, 600 horses and 7600 t of ammunition; towing damaged ships. It evacuated many thousands of civilians from Odessa. The crew repulsed more than 15 attacks of German torpedo-bombers and avoided 90 bombs. Armed with only 2x45mm guns and 4 MGs “Chapaev” was the first Soviet transport ship, which could brought down the bomber (September 1941). The ship with 200 soldiers, 10 cannons, 240 horses and 1300 t of ammunition on board was sunk on 1 March 1942 near Sevastopol by two Soviet mines because of navigation mistake (some sources report that it was torpedoed by German submarine); 120 men, including captain, were lost. Others were rescued by patrol boats in 15 min.

“Nogin” transported ammunition and evacuated civilians from Black Sea ports. It was sunk on 5 January 1942 at Feodosia port during the Soviet landing operation by two German bomb hits, but it was raised in 1944 and repaired. "Nogin" was used then at Pacific Ocean and once was arrested by Japanese coast defence forces for two months (178 Soviet transport ships were stopped and arrested for "customs inspection" by Japanese in 1941-1944, but then were released). “Nogin” and “Pugachev” participated in landing operations against Japan in Korea and Kuril Islands in August 1945.

Another sources give the info that "Pugachev" with grain on board was towed by refrigerator "Kuban" (see above about this ship) and was sunk on 30 September 1941 by German bombers. "Kuban" rescued all crew from "Pugachev". Now "Pugachev" is the popular place for diving. So, probably another "Pugachev" participated in landing operations against Japanese in 1945.

"Lepse" was sunk at the port by its crew to prevent the capture by Germans in 1941. In 1945 it was raised and reequipped. Since 1961 till now "Lepse" have been using as auxiliary ship for transporting the nuclear fuel (Barents sea). Old ship with rusty hull with hundreds tonns of radioactive waste on board is one of the most dangerous place in the world now (Murmansk port, North Russia).
Modern photos of "Lepse" ship as nuclear fuel transport (technological base): http://www.bellona.no/data/b/0/33/32/1_1407_2.jpg
http://www.bellona.no/data/b/0/34/88/7_1407_1.jpg
http://www.bellona.no/data/b/0/34/82/6_1407_1.jpg

But I couldn't find the WWII photos of the ships of that type...................

Line drawing of the Soviet dry cargo ship of "Tsurupa" type (9 copies, 1930-1941)
is from http://www.azur.ru/img.php?img=280_aaa69
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One of the most widely used Soviet transport ships

Post by BIGpanzer » 26 Jul 2005 15:50

I have read that one of the most widespread Soviet transport ships of WWII period was medium timber ship of “Tovarisch Krasin” type. Those ships (5280 t; 89 m x 13.1 m; 900-1200 hp steam-engine; 9-9.8 knots; 2500 miles; 32 men crew) were built in 24 copies (7 series) by Baltic and Sevastopol shipyards in 1925-1934.
They were used for the transportation of timber and coal between USSR and Great Britain in 1920s-1930s, participated in many famous North expeditions and navigations of 1930s. Almost all ships were mobilized as military transports during WWII (Baltic Sea, Barents Sea, Pacific Ocean), many of them were used in convoys from USA San Francisko and Seattle to Soviet Murmansk and Arkhangelsk. “Mironych” was used till late 1950s at Pacific Ocean, “Vancetti” made navigations till 1975.

The info I have about their losses:
1. “Krasny partisan” dissapeared on 26 January 1943 at Barents Sea during the navigation to USA. Probably, it was sunk by German bombers or submarine “U-255”. 51 men were lost.
2. “Krestyanin” was sunk on 01 August 1942 at Barents Sea (torpedoed by “U-601”). 38 men on two lifeboats could reach the shore, 7 men were lost.
3. “Kuibyshev” was sunk on 24 August 1942 at Kara Sea (also torpedoed by “U-601”). All crew was lost.
4. “Volodarsky” was sunk, no more info.
5. “Mikoyan” was sunk on 3 October 1942 at Indian Ocean during the cargo transportation from British colonies to Persian Gulf region. Torpedoed by Japanese submarine “I-162”. The crew on lifeboats could reach Indian shore. All survived and returned back to USSR.
6. “Sukhona” was sunk on 13 September 1942 at Greenland Sea (PQ-18 convoy) by German torpedo-bombers. Before this the crew of "Sukhona" could save sailors from the ship "Stalingrad", also destroyed by German bombs.
7. “Tovarisch Stalin” and “Mikhail Frunze” were damaged by bombs and used as non-self-propelled fuelers by North navy till the end of the war.
8. “Tovarish Krasin” was sunk by old WWII mine at Baltic Sea in June 1946.

Almost all ships of that type, participated in North convoys, were armed with 76,2mm universal cannon against bombers and submarines, several AA MGs of Örlicon type and parachute flares with steel rope against diving bombers.

The picture of "Tovarisch Krasin" timber ship: http://www.designer.hillscastle.com/ima ... hip_12.jpg
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Post by BIGpanzer » 27 Jul 2005 01:24

I am searching now the info about Soviet ice-breakers and transport ships with ice lining, which were used during WWII in North convoys, also AFAIK as armed patrol ships. I've just found that Soviets lost 17 ice-breakers during the war, mainly at Baltic Sea.
Any info is welcome, please! :)

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Transport ships with ice belt of "Anadyr" type

Post by BIGpanzer » 28 Jul 2005 18:12

I have just read that one of the best Soviet transport ships with ice belt were universal cargo-and-passenger ships of "Anadyr" type (they were used very widely at Far-Eastern routes, North Sea Route, participated in many polar expeditions of 1930s and rescued the famous Soviet "Cheluskin" ship, which was crushed by ice in 1934). Those ships could transport several light aircrafts on the deck for arctic expeditions.

Baltic shipyard produced 10 ships of that type in 5 series (1929-1932): 6110 t; 100,5 m x 14 m; 1500 hp steam-engine; 10,5 knots; 4032 miles; 50 men crew + up to 542 passengers.

Those ships were used as armed military transports and even as ice-breakers during WWII (North Atlantic, Arctic Ocean, North Pacific).
"Anadyr" made in 1935 the navigation from Soviet Far-Eastern port Vladivostok to Belgian Antwerpen through the North Sea Route (first in the world). During WWII - military transport at Arctic and Pacific Oceans, several times was stopped by Japanese destroyers and patrol boats.
"Smolensk" was used since 1941 as mother ship for torpedo boats and submarines (Pacific Navy) and scraped only in 1965.
About "Sever". "Suchan", "Sverdlovsk", "Saratov" and "Krasnaya Gazeta" I have no info.

Their losses:
1. "Stalingrad", transported 500 t of explosives, was torpedoed by "U-589" on 13 September 1942 at Greenland Sea (PQ-18 convoy, 21 men were lost and 66 men were rescued by British patrol mine-sweepers).
The rest 9 ships survived the war.

I found two preWWII photos of "Sakhalin" ship (1932; construction of Magadan port by political prisoners, who were transported by "Sakhalin"):
http://kolyma-info.ru/data/media/11/old_sax.jpg
http://magda2004.narod.ru/Hist/hpar.jpg
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Post by BIGpanzer » 29 Jul 2005 19:44

I am searching now the detailed info about the heroic and unique artillery engagement between German battleship "Admiral Scheer" and Soviet ships with ice belt "Sibiryakov" (25.08.1942) and "Dezhnev" (two days after).

Anybody wants to help?

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Post by BIGpanzer » 31 Jul 2005 01:28

Some WWII losses of Soviet ice-breakers and icebreaking ships. I found this info today, almost by chance. Me seems such type of info is hard to find, so may be it will be interesting...

Arctic Ocean, North Atlantic:
“Sadko” (13.09.1941, Kara Sea, icebreaking ship) – sank during the transportation of cargos because of unknown reef. The crew was rescued by ice-breaker “Lenin”.
“Alexander Sibiryakov” (25.08.1942, Kara Sea, icebreaking ship) – sank during the heroically artillery combat with German battleship “Admiral Scheer”. I am going to write about this more in detail soon.

Baltic Sea (Soviets lost there several ice-breakers, some of them belonged to Baltic states till 1940):
“Perkunas” (22.06.1941, small ice-breaker) – was sunk by German bombers.
“Lacplesis” (22.07.1941, at Saaremaa Island, small ice-breaker) – was damaged during the transportation of torpedoes by several German patrol boats, but could reach the port, where sank. In autumn 1941 it was raised and repaired. In 1944 it was interned in Sweden, in 1945 – was returned to USSR.
“Merikaru” (19.08.1941, Moonsund, small ice-breaker) – towed several barges with ammunition for coastal artillery, was exploded on mine and sank. All crew was lost.
“Truvor” (25.08.1941, Gulf of Finland, medium ice-breaker) – was exploded on mine and sank. 22 men were rescued.
“Krisjanis Valdemars” (28.08.1941, Gulf of Finland, small ice-breaker) – was exploded on mine, trying to avoid the attacks of German bombers.
“Levanevsky” (21.09.1941, Kronstadt) – projected icebreaking ship, not finished. Was destroyed by German aviation. It was raised in November 1941 and complete as tanker.
“Tasuja” (01.12.1941, Kronstadt, small ice-breaker) – was sunk by German bomber. 13 men were lost. It was raised in 1942 and repaired.
“Octyabr”(30.11.1941, Gulf of Finland, small ice-breaker) – was sunk by German bombers during the pilotage of convoy. 7 men were lost.

Black Sea:
“No.5” (12.08.1941, small ice-breaker) – was exploded on mine during the transportation of submarine hull. 22 men were lost.
“Solombala” (08.10.1941, small ice-breaker) – was sunk by German coastal artillery. In November 1941 it was raised by Germans and repaired. In 1943 sank because of navigation mistake. In 1950 it was raised by Soviets and scrapped.
“Stepan Makarov” (17.11.1941, large ice-breaker) – was lost during the navigation from Sevastopol because of unknown reasons (probablu, was sank because of mine) with 120 men.
“Sneg” (08.03.1942, small ice-breaker) - was lost during the navigation from Taman because of unknown reasons
“No. 7” (20.04.1942, small ice-breaker, near Kerch) – was exploded on mine during the towing of barge. 25 men were lost, 11 were saved. It was raised in 1950 and scrapped.
“Znamya socializma” (02.07.1942, small ice-breaker) – was sunk by German bombers. It was raised after the war and scrapped.

Pacific Ocean:
“Kazak Poyarkov” (25.07.1941, Japanese Sea, medium ice-breaker) – was exploded on mine during the towing of barge. 30 men were lost, 15 were rescued.
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Post by Acolyte » 31 Jul 2005 09:00

BIGpanzer wrote:The real story is that Soviet ship “Cheluskin” with polar scientific expedition was clamped by ice in February 1934 and USA suggested the help to evacuate the expedition by airplanes to Alaska. The Soviet government rejected the American help because of the presence of powerful native ice-breakers and quite well-equipped Soviet polar aviation, which successfully saved the expedition in April 1934. American press didn’t like the fact that Red Russia had good airplanes and ice-breakers and completely had no need in American help, so the story about a Soviet large ship for transporting the prisoners immediately appeared in American newspapers in 1934 as the reason of rejection the help. As if that ship was located not far from “Cheluskin” and American pilots could see the dead bodies of many prisoners on ice. Later the name "Dzhurma" appeared as the name of that ship. In actual fact (and British and even American naval historians proved this later) “Dzhurma” (built in Rotterdam in 1921 as "Brielle", 7000 t, 123 m) was bought by USSR only in 1935! It couldn’t carry 12000 prisoners (outside its carrying capacity) in 1934, that's for sure.


According to one source the whole story originates from Robert Conquest. Looking at a picture of the Dzhurma I doubt it could carry as much as 12.000 people. Then again, I'm no expert on ships. Some sources assert the disaster happened in 1933, others say 1934 or 1941 (google "dzhurma 1941" and you'll find out). Who knows, maybe the disaster did indeed happen. It seems the ship is rather infamous amongst anti-communist authors:

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn documented another kind of maritime emergency along
the same coast. In the spring of 1938 the steamer Dzhurma was transporting
3,000 or 4,000 slave laborers from Vladivostok to the Kolyma goldfields,
which required passing very close to Japanese-held Sakhalin Island. Some
of the prisoners got loose and looted a storeroom, setting it afire. As
smoke poured from the hold of the ship, a Japanese naval vessel pulled
alongside and offered assistance in fighting the fire. The captain refused
the offer and ordered the hatches sealed, suffocating the fire and the
thousands of political prisoners as well. Once the Japanese ship was out
of sight, the bodies of the dead were thrown overboard.


http://www.jamesoberg.com/sub.html

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Operation "Wunderland"

Post by BIGpanzer » 31 Jul 2005 14:51

Thanks for the reply! AFAIK "Dzhurma" was one of the largest ship of NKVD-owned Dalstroy organization at Far-East, also it was one of the several ships, which were used ONLY fot prisoner's transportation, that is why it is quite well-known ship. But usually such ships transported only several hundreds of prisoners in holds, equipped with primitive berths.


As you understand, if we are discussing Soviet transport ships and their operations in 1930s-1940s, we should note that there were many heroic pages in Soviet merchant navy (participating in many famous polar expeditions of 1930s, life-saving of the crews and passengers of several foreign liners, transporting military cargos in North convoys and at Pacific Ocean during the whole WWII; evacuating women, children and wounded soldiers under German bombs and torpedoes as well as participating in dangerous landing operations at Black Sea in 1941-1944 and so on). On the other hand there were also very black pages as several large transport ships of North and Far-Eastern steamship lines used for the transportation of political prisoners to so called labor camps for timber cutting and construction the new Soviet North towns and mining operations. I’ve read that NKVD ordered to transport the political prisoners together with criminal (murderers and thieves) and rescued political prisoners only after saving of all criminals from the burning or drowning ship.
I found several mentions that some captains of such ships were even awarded with medals and orders and, of course, survived the war; whereas many heroic Soviet civil captains, participated in combats with German submarines and bombers, remained forgotten and even were arrested during and after the war.


I think for historical correctness we should find the info about heroic navigations of Soviet merchant ships also. I was fond for a long time of British and US north convoys (as well as transport navigations at Pacific), the sailors of which made many heroic and brave navigations. But I knew almost nothing about Soviet transport navy of WWII period till I wrote this post. Now I would like to find some materials and I already have found many (see above). If you can help me with this also, please, do it.

I’ve found the info about heroic artillery combats between two Soviet icebreaking ships “Alexander Sibiryakov”, “Dezhnev” and German battleship “Admiral Scheer” at Kara Sea. The captain of Soviet “Alexander Sibiryakov” is one of such examples.

“Alexander Sibiryakov” was the old icebreaking ship, famous in 1930s for its Arctic navigations through the North Sea Route along the north border of USSR. It was built for Canada in England (Glasgow) in 1908 and was bought by Russian government in 1915 as transport and sea-hunting ship for White Sea. In August 1941 the ship was mobilized by North Navy, reequipped and armed with 2x76mm + 2x45mm AA guns.
Specifications: 1325 t, 76,5x10,8 m, steam engines 2000 hp, 13 knots.
Under the name LD-6 it had the combat with battleship “Admiral Scheer” on 25 August 1942 and was sunk. The strait at Kara Sea, sandbank at Barents Sea and mountain in Antarctica are called now “Sibiryakov” in honor of heroic ship.

“Dezhnev” was the icebreaking Arctic cargo-passenger ship of “Sevmorput-1” type (2 were built in 1935-1937 by Admiralty shipyard in Leningrad). The ship was used as patrol ship (Murmansk region) during the Soviet-Finnish war in 1939-1940. Since 1940 it transported cargos to polar lands and islands. In August 1941 the ship was renamed as SKR-19, reequipped and armed as patrol ship. It patrolled White and Black Seas, guarded North convoys and transported ammunition and cargos to north garrisons and polar stations. The crew of “Dezhnev” brought down two German bombers.
Specifications: 7330 t, 104x15 m, steam engine 2500 hp, 12.5 knots, 5600 miles, crew 122 men.
On 27 August 1942 it defended port Dikson against battleship “Admiral Scheer”, was heavily damaged by large-calibre shells, but survived the combat. “Dezhnev” was used as icebreaking ship in Arctic till 1969.


The description of combats between “pocket” battleship “Admiral Scheer” and those two Soviet icebreaking ships.

"Admiral Scheer" was the most successful German raider, which sank in 1941 near 16 Allied (mainly British, 151000 t total) transport ships and British auxiliary cruiser "Jervis Bay", which heroically defended the convoy.
Battleship “Admiral Scheer” (captain – Kapitän zur See W. Meendsen-Bohlkeen) went to Kara Sea in August 1942 to prevent the transportation of cargos by Soviet ships and to destroy Soviet ports and polar stations (operation “Wunderland”). Battleship was supported by four submarines U-601, U-251, U-209, U-456 (mainly for meteorological reconnaissance).
On 18 August “Admiral Scheer” met the single Soviet transport ship “Friedrich Engels”, which could avoid the combat and disappeared in fog.
On 21 August the reconnaissance seaplane from battleship found out the Soviet convoy (8 cargo ships, 2 tankers (including one British) and 2 large ice-breakers “Krasin” and “Lenin”) 60 miles from the “Admiral Scheer”. But the pilot from reconnaissance “Arado” was mistaken in course of the convoy. “Admiral Scheer” waited the convoy more than one day and lost it. The convoy was found out again on 23 August by battleship’s radar and radio intercept station. But heavy ice fields prevented to catch the Soviet ships; sometimes the speed of “Admiral Scheer” was only 1 knot because of ice! The reconnaissance “Arado” seaplane was completely destroyed during the landing on 25 August and “Admiral Scheer” turned back, despairing of catching the convoy. Later one ship of the convoy “Shors” was exploded on mine from U-592, and tanker “Donbass” was torpedoed during the heroic combat with Z-27 destroyer.

At the same time (25 August) battleship met the unknown single Soviet icebreaking ship (“Alexander Sibiryakov”, captain lieutenant A.Kacharava). “Alexander Sibiryakov” transported 349 t of cargos to polar stations. Soviet captain didn’t know anything about German battleship at north waters, because only on 24 August British secret service informed Soviet admirals about possible raids of German battleship and nobody informed about this “Alexander Sibiryakov”. And what is more – Soviet polar explorers from polar stations saw the “Arado” from “Admiral Scheer” and immediately informed the navy headquarters, but Soviet admirals didn’t believe to them. Also on 24 August U-601 sank Soviet cargo ship “Kyibyshev” at that area (all crew was lost), and U-255 had unsuccessfully combat with Soviet cargo ship “Belomorkanal”, which could defend itself by its 45mm gun and several depth charges. At the same day U-255 fired on Soviet polar station, destroying four wooden buildings, but not radio station. So Soviet headquarters had some info about German activity at Kara Sea, but with negligence didn’t inform the transport and patrol ships about this.

So “Alexander Sibiryakov” (47 men crew + polar explorers, navy staff officers and artillerymen = 102 men), armed with 2x76mm old WWI-period AA guns, 2x45mm light AA guns and 2x20mm AA Örlikons, met battleship “Admiral Scheer” (1150 men crew), armed with 6x280mm guns, 2x150mm guns, 6x105mm guns, 8x37mm AA guns, 10x20mm guns, 8x533mm torpedo tubes. The captain of “Admiral Scheer” Meendsen-Bohlkeen decided at first to capture the old Soviet ship and cleared up the meteorological situation and radio codes from the Soviet crew. So “Admiral Scheer” raised the USA flag and began to ask the questions on Russian language by radio station. That conversation continued near 20 min. Soviet captain A. Kacharava knew about the presence of USA heavy cruiser “Tuscaloosa” at Barents Sea, but the silhouette of German battleship was very differ from USA cruiser, also the questions seemed strange. Kacharava ordered to stop radio communication with unknown ship, gave the full speed and tried to reach the nearest island (10 miles from the ship). In parallel the Soviet ship began to radio the info about unknown battleship. “Admiral Scheer” immediately started to interfere the Soviet radio transmission and opened fire from the main-caliber 280mm guns (distance 6 miles).
“Alexander Sibiryakov” also opened fire from its two old 76mm guns (but the max. range for them were only 5 miles), made the smoke screen and tried to reach the island to save the cargos and passengers. During the 43 minutes of combat German battleship shot 27 280mm shells and achieved 4 direct hits of Soviet small ship, which could radioed two additional messages about the enemy battleship and farewell last message. “Alexander Sibiryakov” transported the petrol for polar stations in large barrels on the desk, which were exploded after the first 280mm hit, its engine was also completely destroyed. But the last 76mm rear gun of Soviet ship continued to fire. Germans tried to capture Soviet sailors from the water, but many of them stayed on the ship and sank with it; the rest fought with German sailors from lifeboats. “Admiral Scheer” could capture only 22 men from 102, including the heavy wounded captain Kacharava. The stoker from “Alexander Sibiryakov” could reach along the uninhabited island and lived there 36 days until he was rescued by Soviet flying boat. Lieutenant A. Kacharava and his sailors remained the heroes in German concentration camps of death, several of them (including the captain) returned back to USSR in 1945 and were arrested by NKVD as German spies (!). Captain A. Kacharava was released from GULAG labor camp after the death of Stalin, but was awarded only with simple Red Star order (lower Soviet order) instead of the Hero of Soviet Union, was almost forgotten for many years and worked as the captain of ice-breaker at Barents and Kara Seas till 1967.

The radio messages from “Alexander Sibiryakov” at last opened the eyes of Soviet navy staff and all ships at Kara Sea received the order to stop radio. Soviet flying boat could recognize the “Admiral Scheer” and informed the headquarters. The Germans lost element of surprise. German captain decided to destroy the main Soviet port Dikson at Kara Sea and its powerful radio station by the battleship’s artillery and realized the landing operation to capture important codes and information from the port. Soviets had only 13 old flying boats, 4 long-range bombers and 1 submarine at large Kara Sea, which was completely not enough to find the German battleship under the extremely bad weather.
Dikson port was defended only by the single coastal battery of field howitzers (two 152mm howitzers mod. 1910/1930), patrol boat SKR-19 (icebreaking ship “Dezhnev”) with 4x76mm + 4x45mm + 6x12.7mm MGs + depth charges, transport ship “Revolutionist” with 1x75mm + 1x45mm + 4x20mm and NKVD platoon (60 men with 2x37mm AT guns + 1x76mm AA gun) + civilians with 300 rifles. Also several 130mm naval guns for coastal artillery had just arrived, but not installed. The most dangerous thing, which could prevent the defense of the port, was unarmed transport ship “Kara” in the harbor, carried 1000 t of explosives.

On 27 August 1942 “Admiral Scheer” reached the port Dikson, planning to perform landing operation to capture it by 180 sailors from the crew. Soviet signalman saw the battleship at 01.05 a.m. and in several minutes “Admiral Scheer” opened fire from its main guns. “Dezhnev” (captain – lieutenant S. Krotov) tried to give the full speed and opened fire from its 76mm guns, also made the smoke screen. During the first minutes of the combat “Dezhnev” was hit by 2 or 4 280mm shells, which penetrated the ship’s hull through and exploded already in water! 7 men were killed, 20 were wounded. The 2x45mm guns and range-finder were destroyed. Nevertheless “Dezhnev” could reach the shore and fired 35 76mm and 68 45mm shells without any hits because of long distance and bad weather. Transport ship “Revolutionist” was damaged by 3 hits, and fortunately, the Germans couldn’t find out “Kara” with explosives on board.

Soviet two 152mm field howitzers opened fire, remaining invisible for Germans, so landing operation from the battleship was disrupted. Despite the fact that Soviet historians report about several direct hits, which caused the conflagration on “Admiral Scheer”, German sources don’t confirm this. The last seems truthful, taking into consideration long distance, night and bad weather, absence of range-finder at the Soviet battery and inexperienced in naval combat Soviet army artillerymen.
“Admiral Scheer” fired 25 280mm, 21 150mm and 32 105mm shells, but couldn’t destroy the Soviet howitzers. So at 01.46 a.m. the German battleship stopped fire and went away, couldn’t capture and destroy the port. Several hours later “Admiral Scheer” shelled neighboring meteorological station (226 105mm shells), port harbor and town (76 150mm shells), radio station (52 280mm and 24 150mm shells). Immovable “Dezhnev” and coastal artillery opened fire again from the long distance without observation of battleship. Several buildings, radio station tower and oil storage were destroyed, and “Admiral Scheer” went away, returning back to its base on 30 August. Nevertheless, in 6 days the Soviets could repair everything, so the results of German raid were quite small. The Soviet navy headquarters showed bad organization and criminal poor reconnaissance at Kara Sea, and only the heroism of Soviet simple civil sailors could prevent the destruction of the port Dikson and convoys by the Germans.

"Alexander Sibiryakov" - http://pobeda.e-river.ru/img/Sibiryakov.jpg
"Alexander Sibiryakov" after the combat with "Admiral Scheer":
http://www.morvesti.ru/tst/books/navy/img/54.jpg (rear view from the German motor life-boat)

"Dezhnev" - http://vmk.vif2.ru/battles/WWII/wunderland/fig10.jpg
Last edited by BIGpanzer on 15 Oct 2005 19:08, edited 5 times in total.

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Post by BIGpanzer » 31 Jul 2005 23:45

Does anybody have additional info about German operation "Wunderland" at Kara Sea?

Also I am searching some info and photos of Soviet arctic powerful ice-breakers (not small ice-breakers, and not icebreaking ships), were armed during WWII and used as auxiliary cruisers by Soviet North Navy...............

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Post by BIGpanzer » 01 Aug 2005 17:59

Picture of Soviet patrol ice-breaking ship "Dezhnev" during its combat with German battleship "Admiral Scheer" (see the detailed description of operation "Wunderland" at Kara Sea above).

As me seems this picture was made on basis of the real photo.
Just compare them :) :
http://shipandship.chat.ru/foto/k/105.jpg (picture)
http://sovnavy-ww2.by.ru/patrolboats/pic/dezhnev.jpg (photo of "Dezhnev" at Dikson port)

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Soviet arctic ice-breakers

Post by BIGpanzer » 02 Aug 2005 10:29

Soviet arctic large ice-breakers during WWII – all of them survived the war.

“Ermak” – the first large arctic powerful ice-breaker in the world. Russian admiral S. Makarov developed the project. “Ermak” was built in 1899 by “Armstrong” shipyard at Newcastle (England). The ice-breaker made first scientific arctic navigations in 1899 and 1901. It was the first ship in the world, equipped with the radio station. Participated in several rescue operations and guided more than 1000 ships in 1900-1910. “Ermak” participated in WWI as military transport ice-breaker and guided Baltic Navy ships (236 ships, including 6 battleships, 5 cruisers, 54 destroyers, 12 submarines) through gulf of Finland from Tallinn and Helsinki to Kronshtadt in winter 1918 to prevent their capture by German forces. “Ermak” served at Baltic Sea till 1934, guiding thousands of Soviet and foreign ships. Since 1934 – flagship ice-breaker of the North Sea Route, participated in many rescue operations (first Soviet polar station, icebreaking ships).
In 1939-1950 “Ermak” served at Baltic Sea again, made a dangerous navigation (WWII already began) from Murmansk to Baltic Sea through the North Sea. It participated in WWII as the military ice-breaker of Baltic Navy, evacuating island garrisons in 1941, guiding submarines, military and transport ships, transporting cargos at the Gulf of Finland during the whole war under the German and Finnish bombs and shelling. Till 1963 served as arctic ice-breaker again.
Specifications: 8730 t; 97.5m x 21.6m; 3 steam engines – 9000hp total; 12-15 knots; 4400 miles; 102 men crew; passability – 0.8m ice.
Armament during WWII: 2x102 mm + 4x76mm + 4x45mm + 4 MGs.

Photos: http://militera.lib.ru/bio/jzl_makarov/28.jpg (during the Arctic navigation)
http://www.ozon.ru/multimedia/books_ill/1000197848.jpg (at Baltic Sea)
http://militera.lib.ru/db/trifonov_vi/12.jpg
http://www.ksri.ru/res/history/ermak.jpg
http://prometeus.nsc.ru/biblio/vitte/ermak.jpg (1899, arrival to Russia)
http://shipandship.chat.ru/civil/images/ermak.jpg
http://www.designer.hillscastle.com/ima ... hip_10.jpg (colour picture)

“Krasin” (“Svyatogor” till 1927) – it was also built by “Armstrong” shipyard at Newcastle especially for Russia, had the similar design as “Ermak”, but with more powerful engines. Since 1916 it serves as sea ice-breaker of Russian Navy (Arctic division). In August 1918 it was sank by its crew to prevent the capture of Arkhangelsh harbor by English Navy during the Russian civil war. It was raised by the Englishmen and used as British ice-breaker in 1919-1921 (White Sea, Kara Sea), participating in several rescuing operations. Ice-breaker was returned back to Russia in 1921 and moved to Baltic Sea.
“Krasin” became famous all over the world after rescue the Italian arctic dirigible expedition of Nobile in 1928, making two navigations to the Italian emergency camp. It also rescued 1500 passengers from the sank German liner “Monte-Servantes” during its second navigation. “Krasin” participated in many scientific polar expeditions of 1930s, guided merchant ships at Kara Sea, rescued several icebreaking ships and transported cargos to the distant polar stations, even during the winters. Since 1934 – flagship ice-breaker of Eastern Arctic.
During WWII – military ice-breaker of the North Navy, guided convoys through the whole North Sea Route from the eastern part of USSR to the western. “Krasin” made the dangerous world tour in 1941-1942 (Vladivostok – Seattle – Halifax – Glasgow - Murmansk), according to the USA request with help of pilotage of North convoys and participating in North landing operations (Greenland). The crew of "Krasin" was armed and trained at USA naval bases, but landing operations were abolished. "Krasin" participated in PQ-15 convoy, where its crew brought down or damaged five German torpedo-bombers.
After the modernization in 1950s was used till 1972 as arctic ice-breaker. Preserved as the naval museum at Sankt-Petersburg.
Specifications: 10200 t; 97m x 21.5m; 3 steam engines – 11400 hp, 13.6 knots.
Armament during WWII: 4x76mm + 7x20mm + 10 MGs (was armed in USA and UK).

Photos: http://vivovoco.nns.ru/VV/PAPERS/HISTORY/KRASIN.GIF
http://www.spbumag.nw.ru/99/18/itald113.jpg (Arctic navigation, 1928)
http://www.vladnews.ru/img/photos/710_2.jpg (Iceland, 1942)
http://www.spbumag.nw.ru/99/18/krasin.jpg (preserved at Sankt-Peterburg)
http://www.enlight.ru/camera/228/dec01_1574.jpg (inside the deck-cabin)
http://www.enlight.ru/camera/228/dec01_1576.jpg (inside the deck-cabin)
http://www.enlight.ru/camera/228/dec01_1598.jpg (rescue the Italian expedition in 1928, picture of that time)



To be continued............

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