WW2 Soviet Minesweepers
Soviet Navy - 327 minesweepers 1924-45
Introduction: Soviet Mine warfare WWI
About early Russian naval mines & tactics:
"The Russians were pioneers of mine warfare. They started to use them during the Crimean War, laying some 1,865 in the Baltic Sea to channel enemy ships into the path of fortification's heavy guns. This was basically the bedrock of coastal defense at the time and that tactic stayed valid for decades. Mines however claimed no ship, but their presence alone prevented a Royal Navy raid on Kronshtadt itself, which was spared the fate of other fortifications in the area orr the black sea. Another occasion to use mines surged during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. In total, 1,218 mines were laid down in the black sea, to protect ports and the mouth of the Danube river, claiming one Turkish vessel.
The third occasion, and probably the best remembered was at the occasion of the Russo-Japanese War of 1905: Mines became in effect the most effective naval weapons in the Russian arsenal, claiming in fact way more IJN warships than the fleet. In all, 4,275 mines were laid down, claiming two Japanese battleships, two cruisers, five gunboats, six destroyers and a dispatch vessels and giving the world a lesson all navies were made fully aware of. Soon, minesweeping was perfected, and nets were carried by capital ships at anchor."
Russian Mine warfare in WWI
After 1905, the Russian Navy, almost amputated from half of its naval power more than ever bet on mines to defend its interests. When World War One brok out in August 1914, the Russian expertise reached its pinnacle during World War I. Due to the discrepancy of the forces in the Baltic, the Russian Navy had to resort to mine warfare as its primary offensive weapon. In the Baltic Sea, the knew a peak, with the use of 38,932 mines in the baltic alone, and new tactics by using both offensive and defensive mine fields (a concept in which fast mionelayers would precede a naval force and quickly lay a minefield directly in their path.
This cost the Kaiserliches Marine no less than 48 warships sunk, 21 warships badly damaged, results even better than in 1905. In 1916, the Baltic was infested so much by minefield that special missions were devised to send minesweepers with an escort, degenrating in battles. In 1916, eleven Hochseetorpedoboote en route to raid a Russian force was driven off by a minefield after seven had been sunk, more than 50% of the flotilla. Many mines were also laid down in the Black sea as well, for a grand total of 52,000 mine and 64 warships sunk, including Turkish ones.And this was only for warhips, the number of enemy transports and auxiliaries lost to maines is vutally unknown wand probably in the order of 150 vessels or more. However in the post war years an assessement was made to judge the efficiency of mines. It was calucalted that it took on average 800 mines so sink a single warship.
Compared to the 308,700 mines aid by all belligerents durring WWI, this was still favourable, as it represented 1,500 mines per ship. Russian mine tactics as a result were seen twice as effective as other belligerents, but it is in part explaines by the confines of the Baltic and black sea, where numerous island channeled ships towards minefields easier. Nevertheless, the Russian were quite proficient in this art, inventing notably the "flying minefields", as said above, directly into the path of an approaching fleet.
The first Russian mines used contact fuzes, and some even shore control (by cable) plus simple gunpowder. In 1876-1908 galvanic caps started to be use so that mines became fully independent, and their fuse used both platinum or an electrical device as a trigger. The common explosive in 1876 became gun cotton. Past 1908 mechanical percussion for their primed fuzing was used and TNT as explosive. Eventually magnetic mines were introduced from 1939, used until 1942. Russia was also a pioneer in minesweeping. During WWI, they invented the Oropesa sweep, essentially a “wire sweep” trailed behind the minesweeper, cutting cables circa eighty meters from the ship. Generally each vessels carried two sweeps, for each side. The Soviet Navy also provided its cruisers and destroyers paravanes, this time to have them trailed from the bow. Each flotilla had a lead ship for the sweep formation, guiding all vessels in the minefield. 10% of them were sunk in action, but the training vessels at the rear, needed also to avoid and destroy the mines cut out by the lead formation. The Oropesa gear was only soccessful against moored mines, like the Paravane. German bottom magnetic mines led to the Soviets to develop an influence sweep gear, which plans were passed via lend-lease by the British having paid a great price to them in the early weeks WW2.
-Before 1898, Russian mines were received a designation made from the designer name and introduction year.
-In WWI this was down to the model year only.
Russian Mines in service:
Moored contact, 123 lbs. (56 kg) Gun-cotton warhead, Trigger/Fuze 5 Hertz horns, max Depth 130 feet (40m)
Same, modified M1898 with new anchor and others improvements. Both were still in storage in some place, but retired as obsolete well before WW2.
1268 lbs with 254 lbs (115 kg) TNT warhead, 5 Hertz horns, max depht 360 feet (110 m): The was the standard Russian mine of WWI, used with multiple iterations until the 1960s.
1323 lbs. (600 kg), 221 lbs. (100 kg) warhead, max depht, 425 feet (130 m), mod M1909 with hydrostatic system for automatic depth setting
Floating mine with electrical flotation system prototype
Small 418.9 lbs. (190 kg) 20-27 lbs. (9 - 12 kg) warhead, percussion mechanical fuze, max depht425 feet (130 m), riverine mine.
221 lbs. (100 kg) warhead, percussion mechanical fuze, max depht 425 feet (130 m), submarine model, tube-launched.
1654 lbs. (750 kg), warhead 254 lbs. (115 kg), trigger 5 Hertz horns, max depht 1,400 feet (425 m), great depht moored contact model.
WW1 Auxiliary minesweepers and minelayers
Baltic sea fleet
Black sea fleet
Velikaya Knyazinya Kseniya
Veliki Knyaz Alexiev
Veliki Knyaz Konstantin
Black sea fleet
T 221 - T293
T 1 - T 45
WWI Soviet Minelayers
Less specialized, the role of minelaying could be given to any ship which could receive rails along the hull, which was the case of all cruisers and destroyers in service with the Soviet Navy in 1939. That's why true specialized minelayers were rare, like in most navies:
-Profintern class cruisers:
They carried 100 mines each, but were only completed in the interwar.
Note: The minesweepers themselves carried mines, see later.