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The Russian Navy in the Great Northern War

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Omar al Hashim View Drop Down

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  Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Comment ReplyReply Direct Link To This Comment Article: The Russian Navy in the Great Northern War
    Posted: 15 Nov 2009 at 02:09
The Russian Navy in the Great Northern War


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Peter the Great

If we are to talk of the Russian navy, then the natural enemies to it would be the Turks and Swedes. In the Great Northern War, the Swedes were a more pressing issue. The only pass to seas was at the White Sea in Archangelsk. The White Sea was frozen for more than one third of a year, usually even more. Therefore, the situation of Russia concerning naval activities was terrible. Peter however, after returning from his trip to Central Europe, ordered an amount of galleys to be built at the city of Voronezh, the galleys accompanied by a ship with 36 guns. With this navy, Peter conquered some Turkish cities along the coast of the Black Sea, although he was later on pressed back.

Peter learned shipping and shipbuilding in Holland and England, using later on the found knowledge to his advantage in the upcoming wars. Peter after returning, first started to reorganize the economy and production along with reformations in the army.

The Earlier Stages of the Great Northern War

The early war was mainly concentrated in Russian efforts to penetrate into the Baltic Sea, which she did successfully in 1703. Peter then had a city built to the marsh like islands of River Neva. The city was to be named after Peter I the Great, as ’St. Petersburg’. During these early stages of the war, naval activity was random and occasional; the Russians had yet not got a chance to build up their navy in the Baltics while the Swedes were trying to blockade the Russian and Polish cities along the Baltic coast with the threat of Denmark hanging from the sides. The King of Sweden acted more on land, where he could feel his skills of commandeering more and Peter was constantly opposing him, not allowing to venture far. So in 1709, Peter repaid the debt of his defeat at Narva by causing a similiar defeat to the Swedish at Poltava.

The Later Stages of the Great Northern War

Battle of Gangut

Although on land the Swedes might have been pushed back, they still ruled the Baltic waters.

In the summer of 1714, the young Russian fleet met in battle with the Swedes in the Battle of Hankoniemi (Battle of Gangut is usually used in English). Peter I decided that the best would be if he’d disturb the enemy and he ordered the construction of a wooden fence across the Hanko peninsula. The Swedes divided their fleet in order to strike both sides at once. The sea was windless when the Swedes started their assault. As the Swedes relied heavily on wind to boost their sails, it took away their power of manouvering. The rowing ships of Russians managed to assault the Swedes not caring of the rapid gunnery fire. Peter decided that first he would want that the part that had separated itself from the main fleet be destroyed. The Swedes could however use their artillery to hold off any enemy assaults. The Russians attacked for three times and on the two first turns, the attack failed completely. In the third time, the Russians attacked the ships that were defending the sides. The sailors boarded the enemy ships and won the ships by hand-to-hand combat.

Another larger victory of the Russian navy took place at Grönhamn, although the strategies used by the Russians were pretty much the same as the ones at Hankoniemi. After Grönhamn, the waters of the Baltic Sea were mostly in Russian control, although Sweden maintained a steady route between Finland and Sweden itself.

Without the Russians navy, she could never have won the Great Northern War as the Swedish supply routes could have kept a steady connection with the Scandinavian Peninsula, from where new troops could have arrived constantly.

Edited by Knights - 19 Nov 2009 at 23:14
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