Soviet Union Table of Contents
Before 1962 the Soviet Naval Forces were primarily a coastal defense force. The Cuban missile crisis and United States quarantine of Cuba in 1962, however, made the importance of oceangoing naval forces clear to the Soviet Union. In 1989 the Soviet Naval Forces had nearly 500,000 servicemen organized into five combat arms and gave the Soviet Union a capability of projecting power beyond Europe and Asia.
Submarines were the most important forces in the Soviet Naval Forces. In 1989 the Soviet Union had the largest number of ballistic missile submarines in the world. Most of the sixty-two ballistic missile submarines could launch their nuclear-armed missiles against intercontinental targets from Soviet home waters. The deployment of mobile land-based ICBMs in the late 1980s, however, could reduce the importance of ballistic missile submarines as the Soviet Union's most survivable strategic force.
Soviet attack submarines have had an antisubmarine warfare (ASW) mission. In wartime the attack submarine force--203 boats in 1989--would attempt to destroy the enemy's ballistic missile and attack submarines. Since 1973 the Soviet Union has deployed ten different attack submarine classes, including five new types since 1980. In 1989 the Soviet Union also had sixty-six guided missile submarines for striking the enemy's land targets, surface combatant groups, and supply convoys.
Data as of May 1989