Danube Flotilla (Soviet Union)

The Danube Flotilla was a naval force of the Soviet Navy's Black Sea Fleet during World War II (in Russia, called the Great Patriotic War) and afterwards, existing 1940–1941 and 1944–1960. The Flotilla operated on the Danube River and also, at times, on other rivers connected to the Black Sea.

1940 flotilla

The Soviet occupation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina in 1940 gave the Soviet Union a border on the Danube, so the first Danube Flotilla was constituted to help defend this border. It was based in Izmail.

At the beginning of the Romanian–German invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the Flotilla cooperated with Red Army troops in the defense of the southern front. On June 24–25, 1941, the Flotilla participated in a counterattack crossing of the Danube onto the Romanian side.[1] After this, the Flotilla supported troops trapped in bridgeheads, and as the Red Army withdrew to Odessa the Flotilla ferried troops across the Southern Bug and Dnieper Rivers.

The Flotilla was disbanded on November 21, 1941.

1944 flotilla

As the Red Army cleared the Crimea and the Dniester River of German troops, the Danube Flotilla was re-constituted on the Dniester in April 1944 to assist further offensives.[2]

The flotilla assisted the Red Army in operations including the clearing of the Dniester Estuary and the clearing of the Danube Delta,[2] including both troop-carrying and gunfire support for landings at Prymorske and Vylkove on August 23–24, 1944, and at Kiliya on August 25.

As the Red Army moved upriver, the Danube Flotilla followed and participated in the Belgrade Offensive, the Budapest Offensive, and the Vienna Offensive.[3] Flotilla operations included assisting in landings at Raduevats and Prahovo on September 29–30, 1944 (even well into the 21st century, the wrecks of about 200 vessels sunk by the Germans to block the landings remain in the Danube at Prahovo),[4] at Smederevo on October 16, at Vukovar on December 8–10, at Gerjen on November 30–December 1, at Esztergom on March 19–23, 1945, and at Radwanska on March 28–30.

On April 13, 1945, as the Battle of Vienna was ending, the Flotilla landed troops in a surprise stroke at both ends of the Imperial Bridge in Vienna. This enabled the Red Army to cut the demolition cables and seize the bridge intact.[5]

For its combat exploits, the 1st Guards Armored Boat Detachment (an element of the Danube Flotilla) was awarded the Order of Kutuzov 2nd Class.[2] The Danube Flotilla was disbanded in 1960.

Flotilla Commanders

1940 Flotilla
1944 Flotilla

Order of battle (June 1941)

In June 1941, the Flotilla consisted of six river monitors (the Udarny, Martynov, Rostovtsev, Zheleznyakov, Žemčužin, and one other), 22 gunboats, 7 trawlers, 6 poluglisserovs (very small patrol boats with a two-man crew), a minelayer (the Kolkhoznik (Collective Farm Worker)), a floating workshop (the DM–10), a hospital ship (the Soviet Bukovina), a sidewheeler tug, and 12 other assorted boats.

At this time, the standard gunboat in production, and forming part of the strength of the Danube Flotilla,[6] was the BK type, which featured (depending on model) one or two tank turrets with 76.2-millimetre (3.00 in) guns as main armament. The monitors were more powerful, though slower. The Udarny, a typical monitor, had two 130-millimetre (5.1 in) guns (as well as sixteen 76mm and 4 45mm guns).[7]

Attached to the Flotilla were the 96th Fighter Squadron, the 46th Independent Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion, the 17th Machine Gun Company, and an infantry company.

At the beginning of hostilities, six batteries of coastal artillery on the Danube were attached to the Flotilla, and a Maritime Border Guard Division of the NKVD with 30 boats was under the operational control of the Flotilla.


  1. A. Vahmut (1970). "Первые дни войны на Дунае" [The First Days of the War on the Danube]. Военно-исторический журнал [Military History Journal]. Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. . Cited at Red Army (Pkka.ru) (Russian)
  2. 1 2 3 Patrick Hughes (2002). "The Red Navy". Red Army Online. Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  3. Kennedy, David M. (2007). The Library of Congress World War II Companion. Simon & Schuster. p. 292. Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  4. Ž. R. DRAGIŠIĆ (February 18, 2011). "Čišćenje Dunava od NATO bombi" [Clearing the Danube of NATO Bombs]. Press Online. Retrieved February 23, 2016. (Bosnian)
  5. C. Peter Chen. "Battle of Vienna". World War II Database. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  6. Bertke, Donald; Kindell, Don; Smith, Gordon (2012). World War II Sea War, Volume 4: Germany Sends Russia to the Allies. Bertke Publications. p. 73. ISBN 978-1937470036. Retrieved February 24, 2016.
  7. Ivan Gogin. "UDARNYY river monitor (project SB-12) (1934)". Navypedia. Retrieved February 24, 2016.
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