In the spring of 1915, it was planned as an auxiliary operation, synchronized with the actions of forces breaking through the Dardanelles fleet and the expeditionary corps of the allies. At this time, the Black Sea Fleet did not yet have dominance at sea (disputed it with the Goeben), and the composition of the landing corps was largely random in nature. In 1916 - 1917 The Bosphorus expedition was planned as an independent operation of the Russian armed forces - and although there was no one to interact with, the Black Sea Fleet seized dominance at sea, and the landing corps consisted of strike formations specially prepared and intended for the assault operation in the Straits.
How was it possible to implement Bosphorus planning in the operational-tactical aspect?
As the documents noted, this was achieved: either by moving troops along the western coast of the Black Sea - through Romania and Bulgaria or by joint actions of the army and navy - that is, the landing of the landing corps on the Turkish coast near the Bosphorus with the support of the fleet forces.
Optimal was the second option, which included a combined land-sea operation. In the course of its implementation, the fleet had to ensure the protection of the transports with the troops, prepare the landing area with fire, ensure the safety of disembarking and transporting supplies, as well as replenishing and evacuating the wounded.
The minimum was recognized as the number of troops landed, which could be held at the landing point, not allowing itself to be thrown into the sea until the arrival of its reinforcements. Accordingly - the more troops will be immediately landed, the better. In this case, a strong transport fleet was needed. The transport fleet of the Black Sea Fleet included about 100 transports (on average, 5000 each - 6000 tonnes of displacement). This flotilla could immediately raise the army corps 3-divisional personnel (40000 people). And as practice has shown in the future (the experience of the Black Sea transportation during the war), this transport fleet could take on board more troops - up to the 1,25 corps. So, 23. 03. During the disembarkation in Rize, 1916 transports were deployed by 25 - they came with a landing force from Novorossiysk to Reese, landing 2 plastunian brigades and a mountain division (18000 man), and then the same transports landed an infantry division (17500 man) in Trapezund. It's about 25 transports - that is, only about a quarter of the available transport tonnage.
In addition to the transports with the landing force, the means of landing troops from transports to the shore (tugs, self-propelled barges, etc.) also moved to the landing point - some of them were also loaded onto transports.
It was extremely important to reliably protect this armada from attacks by the enemy fleet, both during the transition and during the landing. Supporting the landing, the fleet had to fight enemy coastal batteries and support its troops with artillery fire.
Thus, the forces of the fleet were to protect the transports, conduct fire support for the landing force and ensure communications. It required a serious superiority in power - and, accordingly, dominance at sea. The Turkish fleet had a high-speed strike force (battlecruiser Geben, light cruiser Breslau and destroyers of the type Milet) and could intercept the transport fleet. After the breakthrough of “Goeben”, the Black Sea Fleet did not have dominance at sea.
A comparison of the forces of the opponents in the early spring of 1915 shows that they were approximately equal. The Black Sea Fleet launched the 4-5 old battleships, 2 cruisers, auxiliary cruisers and destroyers in the sea, trying to stay as compact as possible. The enemy went to sea "Goeben", 3 light cruiser and 4 destroyer. Remained in the bases: the BlackNights 2 obsolete battleship ("George the Victorious" and "Sinop"), the enemy - 3 old battleship ("Messudie" and 2 type "Hayreddin Barbarossa").
The “Goeben” was opposed by the whole team of the Black Sea battleships. Having the advantage in speed, the battlecruiser, when meeting with the brigade, could act as he wished - to accept battle or withdraw. In light cruisers, the enemy fleet was slightly stronger than the Russian — the Breslau and 2 cruisers of the Hamidie type against the 2 cruisers of the Cahul type and the auxiliary cruiser Almaz. In the destroyers, the Russians were stronger than the enemy (especially after the entry into service of the Novikov - Restless type destroyers), but the enemy Milet type destroyers were faster.
The enemy command did not want to risk "Goeben" - after all, after its loss, it lost the opportunity to fight for supremacy at sea. While “Goeben” acted, it was possible with almost impunity to strike at any part of the Russian coast, and in case of luck (when the “Goeben” met with a brigade of battleships not in full force) there was hope for the destruction of the Russian fleet in parts. The contact of "Goeben" with the 5 brigade in November 1914 convinced him of the strength of the Russian unit as a whole. This fact, as well as the realization that the dreadnoughts "Empress Maria" and "Empress Catherine the Great" would soon come into operation, forced the battlecruiser to avoid a decisive battle. That is why the "Goeben" never went to sea together with the old battleships of the Turks - the latter, by linking it with low-speed, could force the battlecruiser to fight in adverse conditions. The absence of a dock in Constantinople for “Goeben” made the command of the enemy even more cautious.
But the fact of the presence of "Goeben" meant that the Russians could not force the enemy to fight without his desire.
Once the Russians couldn’t destroy the main enemy forces in a sea battle, all they could do to gain dominance at sea was to block it in the base (Bosphorus). It was about blocking the main Turkish naval forces - and the Bosporus was supposed to have the core of the Black Sea Fleet, which was based on a brigade of battleships. And since the Black Sea Fleet had a base in Sevastopol (there was no intermediate base), the old ships and ships at the Bosporus could not act, while the proximity to the line of the enemy’s blockade allowed it to use all its forces. The remoteness of the blockade area could lead to the fact that in the event of damage the Russian ships could not reach the base. There were high fuel costs, there were problems with the repair mechanisms and the rest of the personnel. And the need to inevitably leave to the base of the blocking core of the fleet without replacing it with a position made the execution of the blockade of the Bosphorus when stationed at Sevastopol impracticable. An intermediate base was required, which allowed minimizing the time and resource costs - near the blockade area.
As we noted earlier, the command of the Black Sea Fleet considered Burgas as the most suitable intermediate base, which was approximately at the same distance both from Sevastopol and from the Bosporus. But for the retention of Burgas (even without taking into account the fact that Bulgaria had not yet entered the war) large forces were required - the Russians at that point were dangerous for Germany, creating a threat to the Berlin-Constantinople communication line.
Alternatives (Zonguldak, Eregli, Inaid) for the intermediate base were operatively less preferred, although more realistic.
Thus, at the first stage, the Bosporus operation was problematic for the Black Sea Fleet - it was not strong enough to fight at the Bosphorus, and the remoteness of the base (Sevastopol) prevented the full blockade of the Bosporus - it was necessary to resolve the issue of the intermediate base.
A fundamentally different situation has developed in the future.
In the second period of the war, the balance of forces on the Black Sea (for Russians, the launch of the 2 dreadnoughts, 7 destroyers of the Novik type and 6 new submarines; the enemy’s arrival of 6 - 8 of the German submarines, the death of the battleship Messudie and the cruiser Medzhidiye) changed in favor of the Russian fleet. Yes, and "Goeben" from "Breslau", repeatedly undermined by mines, long defended on the bases.
12. The battleship "Empress Maria" off the coast of the Crimea. 1915-1916 Lukin V. K. Notes on the combat activities of the Black Sea Fleet
The superiority in forces was so great that the Russian command created 2 maneuverable groups - EVERY one of which turned out to be stronger than the enemy (with the brigade of the old battleships the 3 groups were obtained).
One maneuverable group was to be located near the Bosphorus, while the other managed to go to Sevastopol (refuel, carry out the necessary repairs and allow the personnel to rest) and return to the position. Thus, the question of the intermediate base has lost its former relevance.
The reserve of fuel allowed each group to be at sea on 5 - 6 days - 2 days went back and forth, and 3 - 4 days - duty from the Bosphorus. The schedule though was quite stressful, but realistic. Destroyers could refuel at sea.
In the summer of 1916, in the Bosphorus region, the Turks had a 1 division. Railway transport allowed to transfer (but only after 2 days) another 2 divisions (one of the Dardanelles and one of Smyrna).
The Black Sea Fleet had the necessary number of vehicles to carry out the simultaneous landing of 3 airborne divisions (with artillery and a full set of special and logistical services and institutions) - the available tonnage allowed (subject to calm weather) to land these forces in 12-hour time (experience of large-scale disembarking the fleet and the Caucasian army already had).
13. The battleship "Empress Maria" escorts transports with a landing force. 1915 year. Lukin V. K. Notes on the combat activities of the Black Sea Fleet
Parts of the fleet, in preparation for the support of the landing force, were undergoing artillery firing on coastal targets; instruction for amphibious operations appeared. [Instructions for the production of amphibious operations // Foreign marine collection. Pilsen. 1930. No. 11. C. 42-79], the necessary materials were prepared for the network fencing of the landing point from enemy submarines.
Thus, the 1 echelon (3-division corps) landed immediately.
The transfer of the 2 corps was required up to 2 weeks of time (this included the time for landing the 1 echelon, transfer of transports to the landing point, loading of fuel, loading of the 2 echelon and its transfer from Sevastopol and Odessa). As Gallipoli’s experience has shown, in the presence of fire support from the sea (from the Black Sea Fleet’s maneuverable group), the 2 airborne assault force could have lasted a week until the arrival of the 2 echelon.
But after all, the landing could have been made not in the Bosporus itself (this is optional), but in an area remote from the Strait for a reasonable distance - for a safer concentration of the landing army. And the purpose of the first landing could be both an attack on the Bosphorus, and the retention of a bridgehead until the arrival of troops of the 2 echelon.
Realistic was not only the transfer of troops and his support, but also the blockade of the Bosphorus. 2 - 3 maneuverable groups (2 were headed by dreadnoughts, and 3-I consisted of 5 dodrednaught battleships), replacing each other, could block Bosphorus very tightly. The widespread use of mines barriers (to act as trawlers of the enemy interfere with the ships of maneuverable groups), and the submarines made the blockade even more dense. Fuel supplies are replenished by expeditions to Sevastopol (for battleships and cruisers) and into the sea (from a floating base and transports for small ships and ships). Fighting enemy submarines includes striking their base and guarding the blockade area and landing point.
But the blockade of the Bosphorus - is the rule of the sea, and the landing troops from the Caucasian army, already accustomed to beating the Turks, could begin to perform combat missions.
Thus, since the spring of 1916, the Bosphorus operation had every chance of a successful outcome. So why nothing happened?
As A. Kersnovsky rightly noted, during the years of the First World Turkey in Russia they were considered the secondary adversary who imposed a secondary theater of operations on us. But having captured Constantinople, the Russians nullified all the successes of the Austro-Germans. It is more than likely that a revolution would not have occurred - the “climate” in the country would have changed, and the war would not have lasted until the 1917 year. They did not notice the most important thing - that the Turkish front became the main one for Russia, and on the secondary Austro-German front it was necessary only to “hold out” [Kersnovsky A. A. World War (short essay). Missed opportunities. Belgrade, 1939. C. 198].
Not only the admiralty and the generals of the allies (during the Dardanelles operation) was not up to par, but their colleagues in Russia. As A. D. Bubnov noted, before the war, the leadership of the General Staff adhered to a dogmatic postulate about concentrating the maximum of forces on the main theater of military operations and on the strictest economy of forces for secondary theaters. The Bosphorus operation was also ranked among the latter - it was mistakenly thought that the allocation of the required landing forces for it would uselessly weaken forces on the main thing - the Austro-German theater of operations - where no battalion would be superfluous. Moreover, the General Staff did not see direct assistance from the Bosporus operation to the Austro-German front - the issue of providing sea communications in the event of blockade was considered insignificant by the enemy of Russia, because they believed in the short duration of the coming war, believing that it would be completed with the existing ammunition and material supply[Bubnov A.D. Decree. cit. C. 190].
Probably, the Bosporus operation should have been included in Russia's overall strategic planning - long before the war with the German bloc. This, firstly, would allow to prepare for it in a qualitative and systematic manner, and, secondly, the operation would not have looked impromptu in the eyes of the high command.
Thus, the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles became the underestimated strategic key of the First World War - it is obvious that the implementation of the Bosphorus operation, shortening the duration of the war, would allow a radical change in the course of the war in favor of Russia and the Entente. That is why the lack of implementation of this operation is a serious strategic miscalculation, the fruits of which Russia and Europe are reaping until now.