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Romanian Navy during World War II

Sea-going warships of the Romanian Navy
during the Second World War
Number of units
Monitors 1
Destroyers 5
Submarines 8
Torpedo craft 23
ASW craft 15
Minelayers 1
Submarine tenders 1
Landing craft 3

The Romanian Navy during World War II was the main Axis naval force in the Black Sea and fought against the Soviet Union's Black Sea Fleet from 1941 to 1944. Operations consisted mainly in mine warfare, but also escort missions and localized naval engagements. The largest naval action fought by the Romanian Navy was the 26 June 1941 Raid on Constanța, and its most extensive operation was the 1944 evacuation of the Crimea.

Contents

Romanian Black Sea FleetEdit

At the start of the War in September 1939, the Romanian Black Sea Fleet mainly consisted of: 4 destroyers (the flotilla leaders Mărăști and Mărășești and the two destroyers of the Regele Ferdinand-class), 1 minelaying destroyer escort (Amiral Murgescu), 3 torpedo boats (250t-class), 3 motor torpedo boats (Vospers), 4 escort and patrol gunboats (ex-French Friponne-class), 1 minelayer (Aurora), 1 submarine tender (Constanța) and 1 submarine (Delfinul).[1] In addition, four cargo ships of the Romanian Merchant Marine were converted to auxiliary minelayers and served alongside the Romanian Navy.[2]

Wartime additions to the fleet included: 7 submarines (Rechinul, Marsuinul and five CB-class), 6 motor torpedo boats (Vedenia-class), 3 KFK naval trawlers, 3 landing craft of the MFP type and 4 S-boats.[3][4][5] In August 1943, 7 Italian MAS motor torpedo boats were also transferred to the Romanian Navy.[6]

Also available for coastal operations off the mouth of the Danube was the monitor Mihail Kogălniceanu. Initially built as a river monitor, she was converted to a sea-going monitor in early 1918.[7] The four Trotușul-class gunboats were officially part of the Romanian Danube Flotilla, but they were also available for service at sea as anti-submarine vessels, due to each carrying 6 depth charges.[8] Similarly, the four British-built 50-ton river boats of the V1-class were also made available for service at sea, each being fitted to carry 6 depth charges as well (each of the four boats was also armed with one 47 mm naval gun, one 20 mm anti-aircraft gun and two machine guns).[9][10]

Operations in the Black SeaEdit

Romanian Navy during the World War II Black Sea Campaign
Part of the Black Sea campaigns (1941-1944)
 
Romanian destroyer Regina Maria
Date 26 June 1941 – 23 August 1944
Location Black Sea
Result Soviet victory
Belligerents
  Romania   Soviet Union
Commanders and leaders
  Horia Macellariu   Filipp Oktyabrskiy
Casualties and losses
1 torpedo boat
1 minelayer
2 motor torpedo boats
1 destroyer
16 submarines (1 shared)
2 motor gunboats
1 motor torpedo boat (shared)

Beginning and main engagementEdit

 
Soviet destroyer leader Moskva

The naval war in the Black Sea commenced with the Raid on Constanța on 26 June 1941, the only encounter between major warships during the entire campaign.[11] The Romanian flotilla leader Mărăști and the destroyer Regina Maria together with the minelayer Amiral Murgescu defended the port against the Soviet cruiser Voroshilov and the Leningrad-class destroyer leaders Kharkov and Moskva. The Romanian warships were supported by coastal artillery, including the German coastal battery Tirpitz (nominally under Romanian command) and the Soviet warships by Tupolev SB bombers. The raid was a Soviet failure, only amounting to several fuel tanks set on fire. No Romanian warship was sunk while the Soviet destroyer leader Moskva was lost to a Romanian minefield as she was avoiding fire from the Romanian warships and coastal artillery.[12][13][14][15]

Other engagementsEdit

 
Romanian torpedo boat Năluca
 
Romanian gunboat Stihi
 
Soviet Shchuka-class submarine in the Black Sea
 
Soviet M-class submarine

On 9 July 1941, near the Romanian Black Sea port of Mangalia, the Romanian gunboat Stihi informed the Romanian 250t-class torpedo boat Năluca and motor torpedo boats Viscolul and Vijelia that the periscope of an enemy submarine was sighted near the harbor. In the ensuing battle, the Soviet Shchuka-class submarine Shch-206 was attacked by Năluca, at first with 20 mm rounds and then with depth charges, eventually being sunk with all hands.[16][17][18]

On 17 December 1941, near the Bessarabian coast, the Romanian destroyer Regele Ferdinand, while escorting a convoy of Bulgarian and Hungarian cargo ships, depth-charged and sank the Soviet M-class submarine M-59, after the latter unsuccessfully attacked the convoy with torpedoes.[19][20][21]

On 1 October, the Soviet submarine M-118 attacked and sank the German transport ship Salzburg. After attacking, the submarine was located by a German BV138C flying boat, and the Romanian gunboats Sublocotenent Ghiculescu and Stihi Eugen were sent to the scene. The two Romanian warships attacked the submarine with depth charges, sinking her with all hands.[22][23][24]

Evacuation of the CrimeaEdit

 
Romanian destroyer Regele Ferdinand
 
Soviet G-5-class motor torpedo boat

The evacuation of the Crimea in April-May 1944 was the most complex and extensive operation of the Romanian Navy during the Second World War. From 15 April to 14 May, numerous German and Romanian warships escorted many convoys between Constanța and Sevastopol. The scale and importance of the operation can be attested by the usage in combat of all four warships of the Romanian Destroyer Squadron, the largest Axis warships in the Black Sea. The last phase of the evacuation (10-14 May) saw the fiercest combat, as Axis ships transported, under constant attacks from Soviet aircraft and shore artillery, over 30,000 troops. Of these, 18,000 were transported by Romanian ships. In total, Romanian and German convoys evacuated over 113,000 Axis troops from the Crimea, most of them (over 63,000) during the first phase of the evacuation (15-25 April). This achievement earned the Romanian naval commander, Rear-Admiral Horia Macellariu, the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Crucea de Cavaler a Crucii de Fier, in Romanian). No Romanian Navy warships were lost during the evacuation, however the destroyer Regele Ferdinand was close to being sunk. She was struck by a large aerial bomb, which fell in her fuel tanks, but failed to detonate. The bomb was extracted several days after the end of the operation. Two naval actions involving the Romanian Navy took place during the second phase of the evacuation (25 April-10 May), near Sevastopol. On 18 April, the Soviet Leninets-class submarine L-6 was twice attacked with depth charges and damaged by the Romanian gunboat Ghiculescu, numerous bubbles emerged from the depths after each attack, before being finished off by the German submarine hunter UJ-104. During the night of 27 April, a convoy escorted by the Romanian gunboat Ghiculescu, the German submarine hunter UJ-115, one R-boat, two KFK naval trawlers and 19 MFPs (including the Romanian PTA-404 and PTA-406) engaged the Soviet G-5-class motor torpedo boats TKA-332, TKA-343 and TKA-344, after the three attacked and damaged the German submarine hunter UJ-104. Ghiculescu fired tracer rounds from her 88 mm gun, enabling the entire escort group to locate the two Soviet MTBs and open fire. TKA-332 was hit and sunk.[25][26][27]

Mine warfareEdit

 
Romanian minelayer/destroyer escort Amiral Murgescu
 
Soviet submarine L-24, the largest submarine sunk by Romanian mines

The majority of naval losses, both inflicted and suffered by the Romanian Navy, were caused by naval mines.

Days before Operation Barbarossa, between 16 and 19 June 1941, the Romanian minelayer Amiral Murgescu along with two auxiliary minelayers laid a barrage of 1,000 mines off Constanța, and it was these mines that would sink Moskva one week later.[28] Throughout the war, the mines laid off Constanța also sank four Soviet submarines (Shch-213, M-58, M-34 and Shch-208).[29]

Between 7 and 16 October 1941, Amiral Murgescu along with two auxiliary minelayers, all three escorted by the Romanian 250t-class torpedo boats Năluca, Sborul and Smeul, the Romanian gunboats Sublocotenent Ghiculescu and Căpitan Dumitrescu and the Bulgarian torpedo boats Drazki, Smeli and Hrabri, laid four full minefields and one partial minefield along the Bulgarian coast.[30] These mines later sank four Soviet submarines (the S-class S-34, L-24, Shch-210 and Shch-211).[31]

On 9 November 1941, the Romanian motor torpedo boats Viforul and Vijelia were sunk near Odessa by Soviet mines.[32]

On 24 June 1942, Amiral Murgescu along with one auxiliary minelayer laid mines off Odessa, while being escorted by the Romanian destroyers Regele Ferdinand and Regina Maria, the Romanian flotilla leader Mărășești, the Romanian gunboats Ghiculescu, Stihi and Dumitrescu and the Romanian torpedo boat Smeul, as well as German motor minesweepers of the Donau Flotilla.[33] The mines laid near Odessa later sank the Soviet submarines M-33 and M-60[34] and the motor gunboats YA-26 and YA-27.[35][36]

On 29–30 October and 5 November 1942, Amiral Murgescu along with one auxiliary minelayer, escorted by the Romanian destroyers Regina Maria and Regele Ferdinand, the Romanian leader Mărăști, the Romanian gunboat Stihi and four German R-boats laid two mine barrages to protect Snake Island.[37] These mines sank the Soviet submarine Shch-212 on 11 December that same year.[38][39][40] The Soviet submarine M-31 was either sunk as well by the Romanian mine barrages near the island on 17 December,[41][42] or sunk by the Romanian leader Mărășești in 1943.[43][44]

Romanian naval operations in support of Axis land offensivesEdit

Romanian naval operations in support of Axis land offensives
Part of the Eastern Front of World War II
 
Romanian monitor Mihail Kogălniceanu
Date 2 July 1941 – 19 November 1942
Location Black Sea, Danube Delta
Result Romanian tactical victory
Belligerents
  Romania   Soviet Union
Casualties and losses
1 submarine damaged
8 aircraft destroyed
1 destroyer damaged
4 submarines damaged
1 gunboat damaged
1 motor torpedo boat damaged
2 monitors damaged
7 armored motor gunboats sunk
1 cargo ship sunk
1 transport ship sunk

Operation MünchenEdit

 
Soviet monitor Udarnyy
 
Soviet armored motor gunboat

Romanian warships and marines in the Danube Delta supported the Romanian-German ground forces during their offensive into Bessarabia, at the start of July 1941. Thus, the artillery of the Romanian 17th Marine Infantry Battalion, operating in the Periprava sector, shelled and sank six Soviet armored motor gunboats. One more armored motor gunboat was sunk at Isaccea by the riverine artillery of a Romanian Marine Infantry detachment. Naval engagements took place on 13 and 14 July, near the mouth of the Danube, on each day the Romanian monitor Mihail Kogălniceanu engaging and damaging a Soviet monitor, the latter being identified as Udarnyy. These actions, combined with the Axis ground troops advancing from the North, determined the Soviet Danube Flotilla to evacuate the Danube Delta on 18-19 July, allowing the Romanian marines to cross the Chilia branch and occupy Southern Bessarabia.[45][46]

Siege of OdessaEdit

In support of the Romanian-led Siege of Odessa, the Romanian Navy dispatched motor torpedo boats to the recently occupied port of Ochakiv (Oceacov or Vozia in Romanian). Their mission was to harass Soviet communication and supply lines. During the night of 18 September 1941, the motor torpedo boats Viscolul and Vijelia attacked a Soviet convoy South of Odessa, each boat launching her two torpedoes at the closest enemy destroyer. Three of the four torpedoes missed. The fourth torpedo struck and damaged the Soviet destroyer, but failed to detonate.[47][48]

Crimean CampaignEdit

 
Romanian submarine Delfinul

On 2 November 1941, in support of the German-Romanian troops advancing into the Crimea, the Romanian Navy sent its then-only submarine, Delfinul (also the only Axis submarine in the Black Sea until late 1942), to carry out a patrol off the Crimean coast. In the early hours of 6 November, the Romanian submarine Delfinul torpedoed and sank the Soviet 1,975-ton cargo ship Uralets four miles South of Yalta. The submarine was subsequently attacked by Soviet forces but she followed a route along the Turkish coast and managed to evade up to 80 depth charges, before safely arriving in the port of Constanța on 7 November.[49][50][51]

Romanian naval aviationEdit

 
One of the ten Romanian Heinkel He 114 seaplanes

The Romanian naval aviation consisted of four squadrons: Squadron 101 with six Savoia 62 and 65 flying boats, Squadron 102 with ten Heinkel He 114 seaplanes, Squadron 53 with eight Hurricane aircraft and Squadron 16 with eight IAR-37 aircraft. The Romanian naval aircraft were active all throughout the Axis offensives along the North-Western coast of the Black Sea, some of their actions also supporting the Crimean Campaign. During this time, they detected and reported hundreds of Soviet ships, which contributed significantly to the effectiveness of the Romanian coastal defenses. Their combat victories by the end of 1942 amounted to the sinking of a 2,000-ton Soviet transport ship and the damaging of six Soviet warships (1 gunboat, 1 motor torpedo boat and 4 submarines). Eight Romanian naval aircraft were shot down by Soviet forces or lost in accidents.[52]

ConclusionEdit

The Axis offensives into the Soviet Union were discontinued after Operation Uranus, which took place between 19 and 23 November 1942, during the Battle of Stalingrad. The Romanian naval units which directly supported the Axis offensives of 1941 and 1942 inflicted significantly more losses than they took in all engagements.

AftermathEdit

 
Minelayer Aurora, the largest Romanian warship sunk by Soviet forces during the war

Romania capitulated on 23 August 1944, in the aftermath of a successful Soviet land offensive. On 20 August, the Soviet Air Force carried out a large air raid against Constanța, sinking the Romanian torpedo boat Năluca.[53] Also sunk by Soviet aircraft was the minelayer Aurora, on 15 July 1941, near Sulina. She was the only minelayer of the Romanian Navy that was purpose-built and not used for anything else (Amiral Murgescu was also employed as a destroyer escort). With a displacement of just over 300 tons, she was the largest Romanian warship sunk by Soviet forces during the war.[54]

Uniquely, in the Second World War, the Romanian Navy was the only navy to fight for over three years without losing a single unit of its main force of destroyers and submarines.[55]

Starting September 1944, the Soviet Navy moved all Romanian warships to Caucasian ports. They were not returned until after the war. The older vessels were received in September 1945, while the more modern ones (such as the Regele Ferdinand-class) were kept by the Soviet Black Sea Fleet until the early 1950s.[56] A number of warships (such as Amiral Murgescu) were never returned.[57]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Spencer C. Tucker, World War II at Sea: An Encyclopedia [2 volumes]: An Encyclopedia, pp. 632–633
  2. ^ Gogin, Ivan. "World War II auxiliary minelayers of Romania". Navypedia. Retrieved 20 August 2017. 
  3. ^ Cornel I. Scafeș, Armata Română 1941-1945, RAI Publishing, 1996, p. 174.
  4. ^ Spencer C. Tucker, World War II at Sea: An Encyclopedia [2 volumes]: An Encyclopedia, p. 633
  5. ^ Cristian Crăciunoiu, Romanian navy torpedo boats, Modelism Publishing, 2003, pp. 154-155
  6. ^ Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1922-1946, Conway Maritime Press, 1980, p. 314
  7. ^ Raymond Stănescu, Cristian Crăciunoiu, Marina română în primul război mondial, p. 271 (in Romanian)
  8. ^ Jipa Rotaru, Ioan Damaschin, Glorie și dramă: Marina Regală Română, 1940-1945, Ion Cristoiu Publishing, 2000, p. 259
  9. ^ Jipa Rotaru, Ioan Damaschin, Glorie și dramă: Marina Regală Română, 1940-1945, Ion Cristoiu Publishing, 2000, p. 259
  10. ^ Navypedia: SK-754 motor launches (1907/1944)
  11. ^ Spencer C. Tucker, World War II at Sea: An Encyclopedia, p. 113
  12. ^ Robert Forczyk, Where the Iron Crosses Grow: The Crimea 1941–44, p. 39
  13. ^ David T. Zabecki, World War II in Europe: An Encyclopedia, p. 1468
  14. ^ Richard L. DiNardo, Germany and the Axis Powers from Coalition to Collapse, p. 109
  15. ^ John Jordan, Stephen Dent, Warship 2008, p. 112
  16. ^ Antony Preston, Warship 2001–2002, p. 72
  17. ^ Cristian Crăciunoiu, Romanian navy torpedo boats, p. 135
  18. ^ Donald A Bertke, Gordon Smith, Don Kindell, World War II Sea War, Volume 4: Germany Sends Russia to the Allies, p. 134
  19. ^ Jipa Rotaru, Ioan Damaschin, Glorie și dramă: Marina Regală Română, 1940–1945, p. 67 (in Romanian)
  20. ^ Donald A Bertke, Gordon Smith, Don Kindell, World War II Sea War, Volume 5: Air Raid Pearl Harbor. This Is Not a Drill, p. 63
  21. ^ Nicolae Koslinski, Raymond Stănescu, Marina română in al doilea război mondial: 1944–1945, p. 361 (in Romanian)
  22. ^ Antony Preston, Warship 2001–2002, pp. 79–80
  23. ^ Donald A Bertke, Gordon Smith, Don Kindell, World War II Sea War, Volume 7: The Allies Strike Back p. 179
  24. ^ Mikhail Monakov, Jurgen Rohwer, Stalin's Ocean-going Fleet: Soviet Naval Strategy and Shipbuilding Programs 1935–1953, p. 266
  25. ^ Jipa Rotaru, Ioan Damaschin, Glorie și dramă: Marina Regală Română, 1940-1945, Ion Cristoiu Publishing, 2000, pp. 132-157 (in Romanian)
  26. ^ Nicolae Koslinski, Raymond Stănescu, Marina română in al doilea război mondial: 1942–1944, Făt Frumos Publishing, 1997 (in Romanian)
  27. ^ Robert Forczyk, Where the Iron Crosses Grow: The Crimea 1941–44, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014, Chapter 9
  28. ^ Antony Preston, Warship 2001–2002, pp. 70 and 71
  29. ^ Mikhail Monakov, Jurgen Rohwer, Stalin's Ocean-going Fleet: Soviet Naval Strategy and Shipbuilding Programs 1935–1953, pp. 265–266
  30. ^ Donald A Bertke, Gordon Smith, Don Kindell, World War II Sea War, Volume 4: Germany Sends Russia to the Allies, p. 323
  31. ^ Mikhail Monakov, Jurgen Rohwer, Stalin's Ocean-going Fleet: Soviet Naval Strategy and Shipbuilding Programs 1935–1953, pp. 265–266
  32. ^ Donald A Bertke, Gordon Smith, Don Kindell, World War II Sea War, Volume 4: Germany Sends Russia to the Allies, p. 390
  33. ^ Donald A. Bertke, Gordon Smith, Don Kindell World War II Sea War, Volume 6: The Allies Halt the Axis Advance, p. 268
  34. ^ Mikhail Monakov, Jurgen Rohwer, Stalin's Ocean-going Fleet: Soviet Naval Strategy and Shipbuilding Programs 1935–1953, p. 266
  35. ^ Nicolae Koslinski, Raymond Stănescu, Marina română in al doilea război mondial: 1944–1945, p. 365 (in Romanian)
  36. ^ Gogin, Ivan. "Ya-5 and Ya-5M types motor mortar boats (1942–1945)". Navypedia. Retrieved 20 August 2017. 
  37. ^ Nicolae Koslinski, Raymond Stănescu, Marina română in al doilea război mondial: 1942–1944, pp. 53–54 (in Romanian)
  38. ^ Donald A Bertke, Gordon Smith, Don Kindell,World War II Sea War, Volume 8: Guadalcanal Secured, p. 77
  39. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Shch-212". uboat.net. Retrieved 20 August 2017. 
  40. ^ "Shch-212". wrecksite.eu. Retrieved 20 August 2017. 
  41. ^ Gogin, Ivan. ""Series XII" submarines (project 40) (1937–1943)". Navypedia. Retrieved 20 August 2017. 
  42. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "M-31". uboat.net. Retrieved 20 August 2017. 
  43. ^ Jipa Rotaru, Ioan Damaschin, Glorie și dramă: Marina Regală Română, 1940-1945, Ion Cristoiu Publishing, 2000, p. 271 (in Romanian)
  44. ^ M. J. Whitley, Destroyers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia, Naval Institute Press, 1988, p. 224
  45. ^ Jipa Rotaru, Ioan Damaschin, Glorie și dramă: Marina Regală Română, 1940-1945, Ion Cristoiu Publishing, 2000, pp. 52-59 and 87-88
  46. ^ Antony Preston, Warship 2001-2002, Conway Maritime Press, 2001, p. 72
  47. ^ Jipa Rotaru, Ioan Damaschin, Glorie și dramă: Marina Regală Română, 1940-1945, Ion Cristoiu Publishing, 2000, pp. 74-75
  48. ^ Jipa Rotaru, Octavian Burcin, Vladimir Zodian, Mareșalul Ion Antonescu: Am făcut "războiul sfânt" împotriva bolșevismului: Campania anului 1941, p. 180
  49. ^ Antony Preston, Warship 2001-2002, Conway Maritime Press, 2001. p. 76
  50. ^ Richard Compton-Hall, Submarines at War 1939-1945, Periscope Publishing, 2004, p. 127
  51. ^ Florian Bichir, Corsarii uitați ai adâncurilor, p. 101 (in Romanian)
  52. ^ Jipa Rotaru, Ioan Damaschin, Glorie și dramă: Marina Regală Română, 1940-1945, Ion Cristoiu Publishing, 2000, pp. 121-125
  53. ^ Gogin, Ivan. "Naluca torpedo boats (1916/1920)". Navypedia. Retrieved 20 August 2017. 
  54. ^ Navypedia: AURORA minelayer (1903/1939)
  55. ^ Antony Preston, Warship 2001–2002, p. 70
  56. ^ Robert Gardiner, Conway's All the World Fighting Ships 1922–1946, p. 361
  57. ^ Gogin, Ivan. "DON minelayer (1941/1944)". Navypedia. Retrieved 20 August 2017. 

Further readingEdit

  • Statiev, Alexander (2008). "Romanian Naval Doctrine and Its Tests in the Second World War". War in History. 15 (2): 191–210.