Poland Table of Contents
During both the communist and postcommunist eras, the Polish navy received less emphasis and funding than other combat branches. Because the Polish navy had usually purchased the simplest and cheapest equipment offered by the Soviet Union, all other navies on the Baltic Sea were considered superior to Poland's. The assigned role of the Polish navy in the Warsaw Pact was to provide amphibious landing and mine warfare capability in the Baltic Sea; postcommunist restructuring deemphasized amphibious operations in favor of the navy's fast attack and patrol craft components. In 1992 the only short-term change envisioned for the navy, however, was retirement of antiquated equipment, much of which would not be replaced. To enhance coastal security, in 1989 military planners proposed Polish participation in a regional Baltic defense fleet.
Naval personnel in 1992 totaled 19,300 (including naval aviation forces), of which 10,600 were conscripts. Total naval personnel had dropped from 22,000 since 1981 (see table 21, Appendix). Another 1,800 individuals served in the coast guard, which operated forty small coastal craft; in wartime that component would be integrated into naval operations. Naval bases were located at Gdynia, Hel (just west of Gdynia), and winouj cie, with a coast guard and border station at Kolobrzeg.
The origin and sophistication of Polish naval craft varies widely. Of the three Polish submarines existing in the late 1980, all built in the Soviet Union, the one Orzel (corresponding to the Soviet Kilo model) vessel is the most advanced; two Wilkclass (Soviet Foxtrot) submarines are older and noisier. All three vessels feature 533mm torpedo tubes. Because they were designed for ocean combat, the three submarines maneuver clumsily in the Baltic Sea in comparison with the smaller submarines of the other Baltic nations. One Polish submarine was retired between 1989 and 1992.
In 1992 Poland had two principal surface combatants. The destroyer Warszawa, in the Soviet Kotlin class, was designed in the 1950s and transferred to Poland from the Soviet navy in 1970. The Warszawa displaces 2,850 tons (3,600 with a full load), is 127.5 meters long, has a top speed of thirty-six knots, and carries the following armaments: two twin SA-N-1 Goa surface-to-air missile launchers with twenty missiles each; four SS-N-2C Styx surface-to-surface missile launchers; two antisubmarine rocket launchers; five 533mm torpedo tubes, twin 130mm guns; four 45mm guns; and eight 30mm guns. The frigate Kaszub features two antisubmarine rocket launchers, four 533mm torpedo tubes, and a 76mm gun. The Kaszub, manufactured in cooperation with East Germany, was completed by the Poles after being left incomplete when German reunification occurred.
The twenty patrol and coastal combatants active in 1992 included missile corvettes, missile craft, and patrol boats. Four Górnik-type (Soviet Tarantul I) corvettes feature two twin SS-N- 2C Styx surface-to-surface missile launchers. Designed in the Soviet Union in the late 1970s, the corvettes are among the most modern elements of the Polish navy. Displacement is 580 tons with a full load; length is fifty-six meters, maximum speed thirty-six knots. Eight Soviet Osa-1 fast patrol craft have four SS-N-2A surface-to-surface missile launchers. Full-load displacement is 210 tons; length is thirty-nine meters, maximum speed thirty-five knots. The Osa class, developed by the Soviet Union in the early 1960s, was considered outmoded by 1990. Poland's eight Obluze large inshore patrol craft were built domestically at the Oksywie Shipyard in Gdynia using a German design of the early 1960s.
The Polish navy has no specifically designed minelaying ships, but its Lublin-type landing ships, its submarines, and its Krogulec-type minesweepers can perform this function. Minesweeping ships total twenty-four, in three classes. The eight Krogulec coastal minesweepers were built in the 1960s at the Gdynia Shipyard; some vessels in this class had already been taken out of service by 1991. Notec inshore minesweepers, a newer design featuring fiberglass hulls, were still being built in Poland in 1992; fourteen were operational that year. Two Leniwka inshore minesweepers complete Poland's mine countermeasure capability.
Six amphibious landing craft were in service in 1992. All had been built in Poland; the Pólnocny was a Soviet design. Five Lublin-type craft have a capacity of 130 troops and eight tanks, and the single Pólnocny craft could transport 180 troops and six tanks. The Lublins, introduced in 1989, were the last major upgrade of the Polish amphibious capability under the Warsaw Pact. The Pólnocny was used as a command ship in 1992. Three Deba-type utility landing craft are used, but not for amphibious operations. Ten craft serve in support of naval operations. These include two intelligence collection vessels, four support tankers, two survey ships, and two training ships.
The one naval aviation division has received special attention because its role in coastal reconnaissance, patrol, and search-and-rescue was considered an important element of the new national defense doctrine. In 1992 this division included 2,300 personnel, thirty-eight MiG-21 fighters, and four armed helicopters. Although the MiG-21 was considered inappropriate for action over the sea, in 1992 experts had little hope for modernization of the naval air fighter capability. The division's one search-and-rescue liaison squadron has three W-3 Sokol, three Mi-8, and nine Mi-2 helicopters, two AN-2 single-engine and two AN-28 two-engine transport planes, and four TS-11 jet trainers. In 1991 Poland ordered three W-3RM Anakonda helicopters, improved versions of the Soviet Sokol; one was delivered in 1992. All Poland's MiG-15 reconnaissance aircraft were withdrawn as obsolete in 1992; no replacement aircraft were available at that time. In 1992 the special naval air regiment included twelve Polish-built TS-11s and ten AN-2s; several of the former were revised TS-11Rs with upgraded radar and navigation systems. Another naval air regiment, designated for antisubmarine warfare and search-and-rescue, had eight Mi-2, one Mi-8, and fifteen Mi14 helicopters. The coastal defense forces included 4,200 personnel manning six artillery batteries with M-1937 guns (152mm) and three surface-to-surface missile batteries with SS-C- 2B launchers.
Data as of October 1992
Poland Table of Contents