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Soviet Union

Fleets, Flotillas, and Squadrons

The command organization of the four fleets was similar to that of the military districts. The fleet commander had a deputy for each of the combat arms of the Naval Forces, and he supervised the naval bases and ports in the fleet's area. Each fleet had a Naval Aviation air army, a naval Spetsnaz brigade, and several battalions of the Coastal Rocket and Artillery Troops. The fleets reported to the Main Staff of the Naval Forces; in wartime, they would come under the operational control of the Supreme High Command and the General Staff. Although the Naval Forces operated numerous flotillas on inland seas and large lakes, only the Caspian Flotilla was operational in 1989.

The Northern Fleet, based at Murmansk-Severomorsk, was the most important Soviet fleet, having a force of over 170 submarines in 1989. The Pacific Fleet, based at Vladivostok, had the best amphibious and power projection capabilities of the Naval Forces. In 1989 it had the only Naval Infantry division, two aircraft carriers, and 120 submarines. In wartime the Northern and Pacific fleets would become components of oceanic theaters of military operations (teatry voennykh deistvii--TVDs) (see Offensive and Defensive Strategic Missions , ch. 17). The Baltic and Black Sea fleets, as well as the Caspian Flotilla, would become maritime components of continental TVDs in wartime.

Since the mid-1960s, the Naval Forces have increasingly been deployed abroad. In 1964 the Mediterranean squadron became the first permanently forward-deployed Soviet naval force. Since its inception, it has usually had thirty-five to forty-five ships. In 1968 the Soviet Union established an Indian Ocean squadron of fifteen to twenty-five ships. Access to ports and airfields in Vietnam, Syria, Libya, Ethiopia, the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen), and Seychelles in the 1980s has enabled the Soviet Naval Forces to repair their ships, fly ocean reconnaissance flights, and maintain these forward deployments. In 1989 Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam had the largest concentration of Soviet vessels outside the countries of the Warsaw Pact.

Data as of May 1989