In total, the Soviet Baltic Fleet installed 5657 contact mines and 1480 mine defenders in the Baltic. In addition, ships and aviation a number of active minefields were erected at the exits from Finnish skerries and on approaches to Finnish and German ports and military bases. Using such active mining, the Soviet command clearly underestimated the main danger to the fleet - Hitler's aviation.
German troops also took care of mining approaches to the fleet base in Tallinn. Over the 300 km. from Kronstadt to Tallinn 50 km. accounted for minefield "Juminda", the installation of which allowed the Berlin Radio to shout about the environment of the Soviet Baltic Fleet. At the same time, the mining of the enemy’s aircraft of the Gulf of Finland was not ignored by the Soviet side, but our submarines had the order not to engage in battle with the enemy’s aircraft, noting only the sites for the installation of minefields.
20 August 1941 began the offensive of the German troops on the capital of Estonia and the base of the Baltic fleet Tallinn. From the moment the offensive began, it was obvious that the defeat of the defenders of the city was predetermined, but the order to retreat was given with a big delay only on August 26. Such indecision was primarily due to the incompetence of the leadership of the North-Western Front, K.E. Voroshilov and A.A. Zhdanov. The Tallinn Crossing operation was carried out under the leadership of the People's Commissar N.G. Kuznetsova, outside the leadership of the Soviet rate.
Despite the existence of a directive, which ordered to leave Tallinn, K.E. Voroshilov gives the appropriate order only after August 27 German forces reached the city and its suburbs, beginning shelling a port raid from artillery and heavy mortars.
Landing people on ships and loading equipment and weapons was completed only on the morning of August 28. At the entrance to the harbor, the mother ship Amur, which was supposed to prevent the access of enemy ships to the harbor of Tallinn, was left as a brander. Some vessels, not having passed even a couple of meters, were forced to return to the pier again (so, being already crowded, the Vyroniya floating base again approached the pier and took another group of fighters on board).
The main task of the transition was to evacuate the troops and ships of the Baltic Fleet from Tallinn with minimal losses, but the conditions for the transition were very difficult. Both coasts of the Gulf of Finland were under the control of the enemy troops at this point. Against the convoy, the Germans used large aviation forces, in particular, even cadets of the Luftwaffe bomber school.
A large number of German aviation was concentrated on the coastal airfields of the Gulf of Finland, which carried out raids on convoy ships throughout the Tallinn crossing. At the same time, Soviet aviation, which was diverted from the airfields of Estonia to Leningrad, thus faced significant difficulties in covering the fleet forces. Despite the opportunity to cover the distance from Leningrad to Tallinn, aviation was not involved in the operation, possibly because of the cowardice of command. Going to sea without air cover was a suicide, but, nevertheless, it took place.
Due to the delay in the commencement of the evacuation of the troops, the Germans managed to block the fleet, blocking the narrow bay between Cape Yumindanin and Kotka. Sovetsk the command chose to break only one channel in the waters of the Gulf of Finland - the central one. Only on it could the cruiser "Kirov" come out, the other fairways did not provide the necessary reserve in depth. Why other fairways were not proposed for the remaining ships remains a mystery. The fleet, which stretched across the Gulf of Finland for 15 miles, was virtually impossible to cover. The whole operation, as it may now seem, was to defend the cruiser "Kirov", the destruction of which threatened the fleet commander Admiral Tributsa with a military tribunal. To ensure the cover of the cruiser, the already small forces of destroyers and minesweepers were abandoned.
The minesweepers were very few, which is why, before leaving the Tallinn harbor, no control trawling along the transition route was conducted and mine exploration was not conducted. During the Tallinn crossing, the Gulf of Finland was a “soup with dumplings”, which was overflowing with both German and Soviet mines.
Warships and transports under artillery and mortar fire of the Germans left Tallinn in the morning of August 28 and went to the outer raid, but could not move far because of the stormy weather at sea. Only by the afternoon, when the weather improved, the ships began to reorganize into a marching order. The most useful vessels during the transition were predictably minesweepers, which were just snapped up. It is these ships got the most during the operation. The minesweepers simply did not have time to shoot mines, which were undercut by paravanes and trawls, did not have time to evade, from mines appearing on the way.
During the transition to the mines, the following warships were killed: the minesweepers Barometer and Crab, the submarines Shch-301 and C-5, the destroyers Kalinin, Volodarsky, Skory, Artyom, "Yakov Sverdlov", guard ships "Cyclone" and "Snow".
One of the reasons for the mass death of ships was the orders of the leadership, which ordered warships that covered the transports to break into Kronstadt on their own. So 2 submarines from the cover ships received from the cruiser "Kirov" a radiogram of withdrawal from the cover, which they carried out at full speed in Kronstadt, so did many warships, actually leaving defenseless low-speed civilian ships to be torn apart by Luftwaffe. Taking into account the incompetence of the military leadership, part of the courts, contrary to orders, turned to the south fairway and safely reached its destination.
Tallinn crossing - cost the fleet dearly, 112 warships and 23 vehicles and auxiliary ships were able to get to Kronstadt. During the transition itself, 15 fleet warships were destroyed: 5 destroyers, 3 minesweeper, 2 patrol ships, 2 submarines, patrol and torpedo boats, a gunboat, 51 civilian transport and an auxiliary ship. It is not possible to calculate the human losses incurred, since they take into account only those liable for military service - more than 20 thousand people, but besides them, a certain number of civilians were evacuated on ships, which no one considered, since the evacuation was rather spontaneous. Of the roughly 42 thousands of people who embarked on transports in Tallinn, Kronstadt reached only 18 thousands (some by swimming). If the fleet had not provided significant assistance with its artillery in the defense of Leningrad, this operation could have been considered a failure and equivalent to such sad pages. storiesas the death of a convoy PQ-17.
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