Soviet naval policy

The flag of the Soviet Navy flies over the oceans of the world. Sooner or later the United States will have to understand it no longer has mastery of the seas.
Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union, S.G. GORSHKOV

Soviet naval policy is based on a Russian drive to extend national influence by maritime activities, a drive which dates back almost 300 years. This effort has continued, with varying emphasis, under the Tsars, and the commissars who followed them. Sometimes spearheaded by explorers and researchers, at times by the merchant fishing fleets, often by the navy, this effort is now being made by a combination of all of these maritime forces on a scale without precedent.

The Soviet Navy traces its beginnings from the early 1700s when the Western-oriented Tsar Peter I founded a city (now Leningrad) on the Neva marshes at the eastern end of the Gulf of Finland and built a navy to fight the Swedes. Prior to that time the only secure Russion outlet to the sea was on the frigid Arctic coast. Employing British and Dutch shipbuilders and officers, Peter constructed a fleet which achieved major victories against the enemy, and established Russia as a power in the Baltic region. Later, America’s naval hero of the Revolution , John Paul Jones, served as an admiral in the Russian Navy during the reign of Catherine the Great.

During the centuries that followed, Tsarist, and then Soviet, naval forces had few victories at sea of which to boast. Although there were some decisive triumphs against the Turks in the 18th and 19th centuries , British and French naval forces present in the Mediterranean and elsewhere, frustrated Russian ambitions.

The overwhelming defeats inflicted on Russian fleets by the Japanese Navy in the war of 1904-1905 dramatically demonstrated the former’s shortcomings—a lack of preparedness, poor coordination, and an inability to sustain prolonged operations on the high seas far from home ports. A decade later, in World War I, the Russian Navy was ineffective in the conflict against Germany, a cause for disillusionment among the sailors who later became the torchbearers of the second, or Bolshevik, revolution in the fall of 1917.

The revolutions and the civil war that followed had destroyed the navy and other maritime resources , including ‘ shipbuilding. Among other things, the “torchbearer” sailors, whose cooperation had been crucial to the success of the Bolshevik revolution, turned against the government in an open revolt at Kronshtadt in March 1921 demanding an end to Communist Party dictatorship, political freedom and civil rights. Needless to say, the Soviet authorities put down the revolt by shooting some of the former heroes and imprisoning others. Yet today , this nasty incident is all but forgotten and the men of the Navy are held in high esteem by the Soviet government.

Not until extensive shipyard expansion in the early 1930s could the Soviets begin construction of large submarines and destroyers. Although several cruisers and battleships were begun on the eve of World War II, only a few were completed and those that were available contributed little to the outcome of the conflict.

Interestingly enough, the way having been paved for World War II by a hastily concluded SovietGerman friendship pact, the Soviets had the world’s largest submarine fleet. There were 165 Soviet submarines compared to 57 in the German Navy, and 95 in the US. Navy. When the Soviet Union entered the war in June 1941 they had 218 submarines. Yet these undersea craft enjoyed few successes, and had no impact on the course of the war due to geographic limitations and climatic conditions which often left them ice-bound in the Baltic. Poor training, out

moded tactics, and an inability to cope with German mines and other anti submarine forces further neutralized the Soviet undersea fleet. Thus, the Soviet Navy played only a minor, supporting role in the conflict. It was the massive Soviet Army which won the great battles that contributed significantly to the defeat of Hitler’s Germany. And it was the Army which remained as the Soviet Union’s threat to the war-ravaged nations of Eastern and Western Europe after the war had ended. As peace came the Soviet Union again was incapable of building a major fleet; one-third of the country had been overrun by German armies and 20 million persons—ten percent of the population—had either been killed in battle or had died of privation.

Still, Joseph Stalin, the Soviet dictator, sought an ocean-going navy for the Soviet Union. High priorities were given to this task and by the late 1940s, the nation’s shipbuilding industry had been rebuilt sufficiently (in part by using German technology and engineers) to begin work on submarines, battleships , cruisers and destroyers. Even construction of aircraft carriers was planned, but Stalin died in March 1953 and his schemes for an oceangoing fleet were buried with him. In the months that followed the dictator’s death, shipbuilding programs were cancelled or cut back. For example, only 14 of 24 projected SVERDLOV class light cruisers were completed; none of the larger STALINGRAD class cruisers or pre-war SOVIET UNION class battleships was finished and the carrier program did not get past the drawing board.

Nikita Khrushchev, when he emerged as the new ruler of the Kremlin, initiated new policies affecting the size and composition of the Soviet Navy. In 1956, he appointed Sergei Gorshkov, a 45 year-old naval officer who had attained the rank of rear admiral at the age of 31 to be Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Navy and directed him to dismantle the larger surface warships. Khrushchev’s point-of-view in this regard, is reflected in a remark attributed to him that large warships were only useful for hauling around admirals. As a consequence, Admiral Gorshkov presided over the dismantling of much of Stalin’s big-ship navy. Existing battleships were scrapped, as were several older cruisers and destroyers. Many personnel were either retired or dismissed; and all of the several thousand land-based fighter aircraft of the Soviet Navy were transferred to the National Air Defense Forces."

In the place of Stalin’s planned ocean-going fleet, Admiral Gorshkov was directed to develop a missilearmed navy of small craft and submarines which could “defend the Soviet Union from possible Western aggression.” It was hoped that comparatively inexpensive guided (cruise) missiles could counter the US. naval forces which were then being augmented during the Korean War (1950-1953). Soviet military planners were particularly concerned with US. aircraft carriers which could launch planes carrying nuclear bombs against their homeland while several hundred miles at sea, and with amphibious forces which could land troops on the Soviet coasts.

During the 1950s the Soviet Navy developed destroyers and submarines that could fire against US. aircraft carriers while the Soviet ships remained under the protection of land-based fighter aircraft. For coastal defense, the Soviets built the famed KOMAR and then OSA classes of missile boats which were armed with STYX (SS-N-2) antiship missiles. Also, several hundred medium bombers were transferred to Soviet Naval Aviation for use against ships and submarines.

By the late 1950s Admiral Gorshkov was able to obtain approval for larger missile-firing ships. The first of these were the KYNDA class cruisers. Each has eight launching tubes plus eight reloads for the SS-N-3 antiship missile. With target acquisition provided by either an aircraft, a submarine, or a surface ship, the missile can deliver up to a ton of high explosives or a nuclear warhead against hostile ships some 250 miles away.

This concern for countering aircraft carriers was intense during the 1950s and 1960s and substantial resources were dedicated to this task. Although in recent years the strategic missile submarine force and anti submarine warfare (ASW) received greater emphasis, the Soviet Navy still maintains extensive and formidable anticarrier forces. The latest weapon system assigned to this task is the supersonic BACKFIRE bomber, and several new missile and ship designs appear to be primarily intended for the antiship role.

Soviet concern about the US. Navy, centered on the strategic striking power of carrier-based aircraft , assumed a new dimension in 1960 when the first US. ballistic missile submarine, GEORGE WASHINGTON, went to sea carrying 16 POLARIS strategic missiles. Forty-one US. nuclear powered, ballistic missile submarines were completed from 1960 to 1967, providing a massive deterrent to Soviet aggression. Later, most of these submarines were converted to carry the longer range POSEIDON missile and twelve of these submarines are presently being back-fitted with the 4,000 mile range TRIDENT I weapon.

Response by the Soviet Navy to US. strategic missile submarines included construction of new classes of antisubmarine ships, among them the unusual and unique helicopter carrying missile cruisers MOSKVA and LENINGRAD. These well armed ships, described in detail in a subsequent section, each operate up to 18 ASW helicopters fitted with submarine detection devices and capable of carrying bombs or torpedoes.

The Soviet Navy under Khrushchev thus was configured as an aggressively employed defensive force, initially used for close-in coastal defense, then to attack approaching U.S. aircraft carriers and then to counter the threat from strategic missile submarines. However, the ships, submarines and aircraft developed for these roles would be capable of carrying out other Soviet military objectives, as well as supporting political and even economic goals, particularly in peacetime. Like large navies before it, the modern Soviet fleet would prove to be a highly flexible instrument for use by that nation’s leadership.

Admiral Gorshkov only partially implemented Khrushchev’s directives to halt big-ship building programs and dispose of many older warships. In point of fact, 14 of the SVERDLOV class light cruisers were completed during this period of upheaval.

It would only be a few years later that Gorshkov, unhindered by directives to the contrary, had the Soviet Navy building large surface war ships. In the interim he pushed development of missile-armed destroyers, patrol boats and diesel submarines, as

well as nuclear powered submarines. The first of these new ships appeared in the late 1950s.

Still, Admiral Gorshkov was unable to build an ocean-going fleet except for the aforementioned submarines, and even there the Soviet Navy had operational limitations. The lack of a far-ranging fleet was politically embarrassing to the Soviet government in 1956 when Anglo-French naval forces invaded Suez, in 1958 when U.S. naval forces landed in Lebanon and in 1962 when a U.S. naval blockade (and the threat of overwhelming nuclear retaliation) forced the Soviets to withdraw strategic weapons from Cuba. In these situations the Soviets virtually had no options for countering Western politicalmilitary activities at sea except by propaganda. These lessons appear to have indelibly impressed the present leaders in the Kremlin.

In 1963 the Soviet Navy Chief “ordered his men to sea.” Despite limitations in training, experience, support capabilities and the like, the Soviet Navy began operating beyond its traditional coastal areas and out of its defensive posture. By mid-1964 Soviet warships had established a continual presence in the Mediterranean. An average of five ships were maintained in the Mediterranean that year; the number gradually increased and soon Mediterranean port visits were scheduled. During the Arab-Israeli war in June 1967, a steady stream of Soviet ships passed through the Turkish Straits into the Mediterranean until the Soviet Mediterranean Squadron numbered about 70 surface warships, submarines, and support ships.

Subsequently, the Soviet Navy has maintained an average of at least 40 to 45 ships in the Mediterranean . Periodically, the number increases as relieving surface ships from the Black Sea Fleet and submarines from the Northern Fleet enter the Mediterranean (through the Strait of Gibraltar) and operate for a short period of time together with the ships they are replacing.

Soviet ability to rapidly deploy naval forces in the Mediterranean area was demonstrated in OctoberNovember 1973. Within a few days of the outbreak of hostilities in the Middle East, a steady stream of Soviet naval ships passed south through the Turkish Straits, and a second Northern Fleet submarine group entered the Mediterranean. These forces doubled the strength of the Soviet Mediterranean Squadron.

By early November, when the 1973 crisis reached its peak, there were 96 Soviet naval units in 'the Mediterranean: 5 cruisers, 14 destroyers, 6 patrol ships, 2 NANUCHKA class middle ships, 9 amphibious ships, 6 intelligence ships, and approximately 25 submarines (several of which were nuclear -powered); with the remainder being nearly 30 support ships. The surface ships had 20 surface-toair missile launchers as well as a considerable number of antiship missiles. Several of the submarines also carried antiship missiles. However, neither one of the two MOSKVA class helicopter carriers was in the Mediterranean, nor was the new KARA class cruiser NIKOLAYEV, which had left the Mediterranean on the eve of the buildup. The absence of these ships indicated that the powerful and unprecedented reinforcement of the Soviet Mediterranean Squadron was less than an all-out effort. Possibly the Soviet strategy called for withholding these primarily ASW ships at the beginning of a conflict, or they simply did not wish to risk these high-value ships in the Middle East conflict.

Still, the Soviets were able to deploy 96 surface ships and submarines into the Mediterranean during a period when the U.S. Sixth Fleet reached a peak strength of 66 ships. The three aircraft carriers then present provided the most potent U.S. conventional warfare capabilities in the region. Although Soviet Black Sea Fleet naval aircraft were within striking range of the eastern Mediterranean, they would have had to violate Turkish air-space to get there. The only other strike aircraft in the immediate area at the time which could have been made available to the Soviets were 12 TU-22 BLINDER bombers recently delivered to Iraq. However, airfields in Egypt and Libya (including the former U.S. Wheelus Air Force Base) had, in the past, supported Soviet aircraft and could have accommodated Soviet BADGERs and BLINDERs if political permission were obtained.

In addition to the naval buildup, it is interesting to observe that very shortly after hostilities erupted between Israel and the Arab states, numerous Soviet merchant ships began loading tanks, aircraft and other war material in Black Sea ports. Most of the estimated 2,000 tanks that were supplied to the Arab armies after the outbreak of war, as well as considerable amounts of other war supplies, were transported to Egypt and Syria by Soviet merchant ships. These ships complemented the intensive Soviet airlift delivering more time-critical items such as disassembled fighter aircraft and guided missiles. Soviet warships began operating regularly in the Indian Ocean during the late 1960s, in the Caribbean in 1969 and off the western coast of Africa late in 1970. The Kremlin leadership had discovered Sea Power!

Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Sergey Georgiyevich Gorschkov has been the Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Navy since 1956. Under his leadership the navy has been transformed from a coastal defense force into a formidable global strategic force which is now a flexible instrument of Soviet foreign policy. A Great Russian born 26 February 1910, Gorshkov joined the navy in 1927, after graduation from Frunze Higher Naval School. He served in destroyers in the Black Sea and Pacific Fleets through the 1930s and was appointed Rear Admiral in 1941—right after the Germans declared war on the U.S.S.R. HE distinguished himself in several Black Sea commands during the war including the Azov and Danube Flotillas. He was commander of the Black Sea Fleet when he was picked for the Commander-in-Chief. Gorshkov also is a Deputy Minister of Defense and a Full Member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. His “hats” make him the approximate equivalent of both the Secretary of Navy, a civilian position, and the Chief of Naval Operations in the U.S. Navy organization. Gorshkov has published a number of works; best known are his series of articles entitled Navies in War and Peace and his widely distributed book, The Sea Power of the State, now in its second edition . Gorshkov’s likely successor, if he should retire in the next several years, is either Admiral of the Fleet G.M. Yegorov, Chief of Main Naval Staff, or Admiral of the Fleet N.l. Smirnov, First Deputy Commander-in-Chief.

These warships, flying the Soviet Hammer and Sickle, represent Soviet interests—economic, political and military. The Soviets are employing their navy in much the same way as the United States, Great Britain and other naval powers effectively used ships to support their national interests in various parts of the world during the previous decades. In their rediscovery of the use of ships to support state interests, the capabilities of the Soviet Navy have expanded greatly, and the tasks and missions assigned to the Navy also have increased in scope and number.

Expanding Naval Missions

Over the last two decades the Soviet Navy has been transformed from a basically coastal defense force into an ocean-going fleet designed to extend the defenses of the USSR. well to sea, and to perform most of the traditional functions of a naval power in waters distant from the Soviet Union. Multi-ocean exercises, such as OKEAN-70 and 75, and the continued naval presence in distant seas, supported by the construction of larger, more powerful warships manifest this evolution of the role of the Soviet Navy in world affairs.

Recent Soviet military writings also reflect the evolution of naval missions. An example of this is the 1976 article on the Soviet Navy signed by Admiral Gorshkov in the Soviet Military Encyclopedia, which characterized the Navy as:

The branch of the armed forces intended to carry out strategic and operational missions in the sea and ocean theaters of combat operations . With respect to its combat capabilities , today’s Navy is capable of delivering strikes by its strategic nuclear forces against important enemy ground targets, of destroying his naval forces at sea and in their bases, of disrupting enemy ocean and sea communications and protecting our own sea communications , and to evacuate the sick and wounded. The navy can conduct a naval operation both independently and jointly with other branches of the armed forces.

By studying such writings of Soviet authors, particularly Admiral Gorshkov’s most recent book Sea Power of the State (2nd ed., revised 1978), by analyzing Soviet naval exercises and activity and by observing the ships, aircraft and weapons built by the Soviets, a reasonable understanding of their naval missions can be determined.

According to Admiral Gorshkov, the basic mission of the Soviet Navy is the “battle against the shore.” He writes that:

In our day, a navy operating against the shore possessed the capability . . . of directly affecting the course and even the outcome of the war. In this connection, naval operations against the shore have assumed dominant importance in naval warfare, and both the technical policy of building a navy and the development of the art of naval warfare have been subordinated to them.

The “battle against the shore” is used in both the offensive and defensive sense, and includes strategic missile strikes against enemy “shore” targets, attacking the enemy’s threat to one’s own “shore,” and supporting the ground forces. More specifically, Soviet naval missions can be stated as: (1) strategic offense, (2) maritime security of the Soviet Union, (3) interdiction of sea lines of communication, (4) support of the ground forces and, in situations short of general war, (5) the support of state policy.

Strategic Offense

The priority given to the development of ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) over the past decade makes it clear that strategic nuclear strike capability has become a prime mission of the Soviet Navy. From 1967 through 1979 Soviet shipyards completed 66 nuclear powered strategic missile submarines of the YANKEE and DELTA classes.

Construction of the enlarged DELTA III submarines is continuing while the initial unit of a much larger SSBN, the TYPHOON class, was launched in the fall of 1980. DELTAs, at about 13,000 tons submerged diplacement, are the world’s largest submarines in service, however, the TYPHOON is estimated to be over twice the submerged displacement of the DELTA III. BY comparison our OHIO class submarines, will displace more than 18,000 tons submerged and carry 24 TRIDENT Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs).

Accompanying this intensive strategic submarine development program has been a succession of improved SLBMs. The 1,300-nautical mile SS-N-6 missile originally carried by the YANKEES is being replaced with slightly longer-range variants, some carrying multiple warheads (MRV). The SS-N-8 carried by the DELTAs has a range of over 4,000 nautical miles, while the SS-N-18 missiles carried on the later DELTA variants provide increased range, more accuracy and, in some models, multiple independently targetable warheads (MIRV).

Today, US. submarines and strategic missiles are qualitatively superior to the Soviet weapons in several key categories; however, that qualitative advantage is being narrowed as Soviet development efforts continue at a rapid pace.

When the lead TRIDENT submarine, the USS OHIO, is delivered, the US. Navy will add its first new strategic missile submarine since 1967. Since that date the Soviets have completed 66 modern

SSBNs and continue to construct several more each year. If the terms of SALT I are superceded by SALT II, the Soviets can elect to expand their force beyond the limit of 62.

In addition, about 15 older GOLF II (diesel) and 8 HOTEL (nuclear) ballistic missile submarines are estimated to be operational in the Soviet Navy. Although most of these submarines have shorter range and less sophisticated missiles, they do pose a threat, especially in the European theater and the western Pacific.

The large commitment of resources which the Soviet leaders have allocated to their sea-based nuclear strike forces is indicative of the vital importance of that force.

Maritime Security

The mission of providing for the maritime security of the Soviet Union includes both strategic and tactical defense tasks to eliminate naval threats against the Soviet homeland. This is an expansion of the Navy’s tradition “defense of the homeland” mission. Soviet naval forces are very aggressively and offensively oriented in exercising these “defensive” tasks; the Soviets are firm believers in the old adage, “the best defense is a good offense.”

Included in the mission of maritime security is the destruction of enemy naval forces, particularly those that pose a strategic threat to the Soviet Union, such as Western strategic missile submarines and aircraft carriers. The Soviets have considerable forces available to locate and attack surface formations such as carrier and amphibious task forces. Although they have expended considerable resources in recent years on antisubmarine warfare, including an intensive ASW research and development program , it is apparent that the Soviets have not resolved the problem of locating submarines on the high seas with a high degree of probability. This task becomes progressively more difficult as longerrange missiles become available to permit submarines to operate in much larger ocean areas and still remain within range of their targets. But the Soviet ASW efforts are considerable and continuing.

Another aspect of maritime security is Soviet countering of the considerable ASW forces of the U.S. Navy and our Allies. The Soviets are thus concerned with the protection of their own SSBNs and have developed forces to attack Western ASW forces in a “defense in depth” concept. Admiral Gorshkov describes this task by noting:

Diverse warfare ships and aircraft are included in the inventory of our Navy in order to give combat stability to the submarines and comprehensively support them, to battle the enemy ’s surface and ASW forces. . .

In support of this mission, the Soviet Navy has developed several classes of large ASW ships which, along with aircraft and submarines, appear to be intended to enhance the survivability of Soviet submarines . This is a highly specialized form of ‘.‘sea control”. However, the newer classes of large ASW ships, especially the KRESTA II and KARA cruiser classes—are multi-purpose ships which have significant antiair warfare (AAW) and anti surface warfare (ASUW) capabilities as well. Thus, these versatile warships are suitable for use in sea control roles in addition to screening submarines. Again, operating with submarines and aircraft, the large ASW ships can permit the Soviets to exercise their own type of sea control to provide maritime security for their submarines, amphibious and merchant convoys, minelaying forces, replenishment ships, particularly in those waters considered critical by the Soviet leadership.

Sea-Line lnterdiction

The interdiction of Western sea lines of communication (SLOC) has been a mission of the Soviet Navy since the beginning of the “cold war”. The relative importance of SLOC interdiction within the hierarchy of Soviet naval missions has fluctuated, depending on the current perceptions of the likely nature and length of a NATO-Warsaw Pact conflict . If such a war were nuclear and of short duration , Soviet anti-SLOC operations would be of little consequence. But since the advancement of NATO’s “flexible response” strategy, as well as increased conventional and nuclear capabilities on the Soviet side, the Soviets have written more frequently about the possibilities of a conventional war and prolonged conflict.

Although the extent and timing of a SLOC interdiction campaign would depend on the nature of the initial stage of the conflict, the Soviets have clearly indicated that they regard SLOC interdiction as an important task. They have a large capability in their submarine and air forces to fight such a campaign once the decision to do so has been made. As Admiral Gorshkov has recently said:

. . . the disruption of the ocean line of communications , the special arteries feeding the military and economic potentials of those (the enemy) countries, has continued to be one of the most important of the Navy ’s missions.

Support Of Ground Forces

The Soviet Union’s geographical position and its consequent status as primarily a land power demand that the Soviet Navy protect the seaward flanks of the army. Although the Soviet Navy has been recast into an ocean-going force with major offensive as well as defensive tasks, support of the ground forces still remains an important mission. This task, of course, entails protecting the army’s seaward flanks from attack by enemy naval and amphibious forces, providing naval gunfire and logistics support and carrying out amphibious assaults in support of land operations. The operations involved would appear to be most likely in the Baltic and Black Seas as spearheads to obtain control of the Danish and Turkish Straits, respectively, and also in assaults against Northern Norway and possibly the Japanese Straits.

The Soviets maintain several SVERDLOV class cruisers, with 12 six-inch guns, and a large shortrange assault force of amphibious ships and naval infantry (“marines”), presumably to conduct flanking operations and to seize key coastal areas in support of ground operations. Soviet military doctrine calls for the small naval infantry force, augmented at the initial assault, to be followed by army units which are trained in amphibious operations. Several army divisions periodically practice amphibious landings, and a large and readily adaptable merchant fleet is available to supplement the amphibious ships in supporting these movements. Airborne operations are often conducted in conjunction with amphibious exercises. Also, the diesel and nuclear powered submarines armed with short range ballistic missiles apparently have theater strike roles in support of ground operations. In 1976 six GOLF II class SSBs, each with three 700-nautical mile nuclear ballistic missiles, were the first submarines to be assigned to the Baltic Fleet in this role.

Support of State Policy

The Soviet leadership in the last two decades has awakened to the value of a powerful navy and other elements of sea power as tangible support for their nation’s foreign economic, political and military policies. The Soviets have discovered the tenets which Alfred Thayer Mahan postulated in his book The Influence of Sea Power Upon History (1890), and what some of the tsars before them realized: a navy is well suited for an active and useful role as an instrument of state policy in peacetime as well as in wartime. Because of its great operational flexibility, its visibility and the lack of political restraints on the movement of warships on the high seas, a fleet is able to demonstrate power in distant areas to support national objectives. Of all the armed services, a navy is best suited for this world-wide role because it is not restricted by the sovereignty of airspace over land or by territorial rights. The tutor to the Kremlin in naval matters, Admiral Gorshkov, has stated:

Warships appearing directly off the shore represent a real threat of operations whose time and execution are determined by those in command. Whereas such a threat was quite great in the past, today it is much more so, since modern warships are platforms for nuclear -missile weaponry and aircraft whose range can cover the en tire territory of a state.

He has also written:

Navies . . . are constantly being utilized as an instrument of state policy in peacetime. In this regard, navies have assumed particular significance under today ’s conditions. The mobility of the fleet and its flexibility in the event limited military conflicts are brewing, permit it to have an influence on coastal countries, to employ and extend a military threat to any level, beginning with a show of military strength and ending with the landing of forces ashore.

Taking Admiral Gorshkov at his word, one can observe that “support of state policy” goes beyond the peacetime “showing the flag” role. In recent years the Soviets have not been timid in using their Navy to support client states and friends in time of crisis. Prime examples are the 1967 and 1973 ArabIsraeli Wars, the Bangledesh War of 1971, the Cuban intervention in the Angolan civil war during 1975, the Ethiopian civil war of 1978, the SinoVietnam conflict of 1978 and the recent invasion of Afghanistan.

Today, Soviet naval forces are deployed continuously on several seas and perform a variety of political and military tasks. They demonstrate Soviet military might during port visits, assert Soviet rights on the high seas, protect the interests of Soviet merchant and fishing fleets, demonstrate support for Soviet clients and inhibit Western military initiatives : The Russian bear has grown webbed feet.

The Future

The Soviet Navy can be expected to seek to expand its capabilities in various functional areas in the years to come. The Soviets might seek to expand their now limited ability to extend conventional power ashore to areas distant from the Soviet Union into a full-fledged seaborne projection capability with its attendant sea control, amphibious assault and sea-based aviation forces. This possibility is discussed further in Section 4. As the Soviet Union expands its world trade and becomes increasingly dependent on foreign commodities and imported technology, it will find it necessary to provide protection to its distant sea lines of communications.

Another emerging mission for the Soviet Navy, as well as the other navies of the world, will be the protection of facilities exploiting ocean economic resources. With or without the introduction of a new International Law of the Sea Treaty, exploitation of the seabed and fishing resources will become an increasingly important issue among the world’s nations.