Soviet frigate Storozhevoy

Storozhevoy (Russian: Сторожевой, "guardian" or "sentry") was a Soviet Navy 1135 Burevestnik-class anti-submarine frigate (NATO reporting name Krivak). The ship was attached to the Soviet Baltic Fleet and based in Baltiysk. It was involved in a mutiny led by Valery Sablin in November 1975.

Kirvak I class frigate.jpg
A Burevestnik-class frigate at anchor. Storozhevoy would have looked identical in most respects to the vessel pictured here.
Naval Ensign of the Soviet Union (1950-1991).svgSoviet Union
Name: Storozhevoy
Namesake: Russian for Protective or Vigilant
Builder: SY 190 Severnaya Verf
Commissioned: 1972–73
Stricken: 2004(?)
General characteristics
Class and type: Project 1135 Burevestnik frigate
Displacement: 3,300 tons standard, 3,575 tons full load
Length: 405.3 ft (123.5 m)
Beam: 46.3 ft (14.1 m)
Draught: 15.1 ft (4.6 m)
Propulsion: 2 shaft; COGAG; 2x M-8k gas-turbines, 40,000 shp; 2x M-62 gas-turbines (cruise), 14,950 shp
Speed: 32 knots (59 km/h)
Range: 4,995 nmi (9,251 km) at 14 knots (26 km/h)
Complement: 200
Notes: (General class characteristics)


The mutiny was led by the ship's political commissar, Captain of the Third Rank Valery Sablin, who wished to protest against the rampant corruption of the Leonid Brezhnev era. His aim was to seize the ship and steer it out of the Bay of Riga, to Leningrad through the Neva River, moor alongside the museum ship Aurora, an old symbol of the Russian revolution, and broadcast a nationwide address to the people from there. In that address, he was going to say what he believed people publicly wanted to say, but could only be said in private: that socialism and the motherland were in danger; the ruling authorities were up to their necks in corruption, demagoguery, graft, and lies, leading the country into an abyss; communism had been discarded, and there was a need to revive the Leninist principles of justice.[1]

On the evening of 9 November 1975, Sablin lured the captain to the lower deck, claiming that there were some officers who needed to be disciplined for being drunk on duty. When the captain arrived at the lower deck, Sablin detained him and other officers in the forward sonar compartment and seized control of the ship. Sablin then summoned a meeting of all the senior officers on the ship. Here a vote was taken amongst the fifteen officers present. Sablin informed the officers that he planned to sail to Leningrad and broadcast his revolutionary message. Eight officers voted in favor of the mutiny; the remaining seven senior members of the ship's crew who did not wish to go along with the plan were locked in a separate compartment below the main deck.[2]

Sablin then moved on to the next phase of the plan, which was to win the support of the seamen, numbering about 145-155 men. Sablin was a popular officer and he used this to his advantage. He assembled the crew and delivered a speech which instantly had all the seamen motivated and excited about a revolution.

One of the officers who had voted in favor of the mutiny had escaped under the cover of night and had run across the naval dock to raise the alarm; however, the soldier at the gate did not believe him.[3]

On discovering that they might soon be detected, Sablin decided to set sail immediately, rather than wait till the morning and set sail with the rest of the fleet, as originally planned. The crew immediately set sail under the cover of dark and made their way out of Riga. Sablin also ensured that the radar was off to avoid detection from Soviet forces.[3]

When Soviet authorities learned of the mutiny, the Kremlin ordered that control must be regained, fearing Sablin might follow in Jonas Pleškys's footsteps to ask political asylum in Sweden. Half the Baltic fleet,[4] including thirteen naval vessels, were sent in pursuit and were joined by 60 warplanes[4] (including three Yak-28 bombers), which dropped 500-pound bombs in the vicinity of the rebel ship. The aircraft also strafed Storozhevoy repeatedly. The ship's steering was damaged and she stopped dead on the water 20 miles from Swedish territorial waters and 330 miles from Kronstadt. After warning shots from the closing loyal warships, the frigate was eventually boarded by Soviet marine commandos. By then, Sablin had been non-fatally shot in his leg and detained by members of his own crew, who also unlocked the captive captain and officers.[5] All the complement from Storozhevoy was arrested and interrogated, but only Sablin and his second-in-command, Alexander Shein, a 20-year-old seaman, were tried and convicted.

At his trial in July 1976, Sablin was convicted of high treason and was executed by firing squad on 3 August 1976, while Shein was sentenced to prison and was released after serving eight years. The rest of the mutineers were set free but dishonorably discharged from the Soviet Navy.[6]


Storozhevoy continued in service until the late 1990s. The crew was changed completely and the ship made extensive visits to foreign ports. She was transferred to the Russian Pacific Fleet and later sold to India for scrap.

In literatureEdit

Gregory D. Young was the first Westerner to investigate the mutiny as part of his 1982 master's thesis Mutiny on Storozhevoy: A Case Study of Dissent in the Soviet Navy, and later in the book The Last Sentry by Young and Nate Braden. The thesis was placed in the United States Naval Academy archives where it was read by Tom Clancy[citation needed], then an insurance salesman, who used it as inspiration to write The Hunt for Red October. The novel was later turned into a movie under the same name.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Guttridge Leonard F. (2002). Mutiny: A History of Naval Insurrection. Berkley Books, p. 292. ISBN 0425183211
  3. ^ a b True Story, History Channel, The Hunt for Red October
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ Guttridge (2002), p. 293
  6. ^ Gutridge (2002), p. 294


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