Cold War Naval Confrontations

It is sometimes difficult now to remember that in the 1950s to the 1970s there was a distinctly perceived threat from ships Soviet–bloc navies to the ships of the NATO forces. NATO ships in European waters were shadowed and sometimes aggressively confronted in a war of nerves that continued twenty–four hours a day. Simulated attack runs, feigned operations signalled as ‘maneuvering with difficulty’ in case of collision and minor collisions were a daily risk.

On an international cruise in 1965 to the Baltic by RCN ships the task force was shadowed day and night. These images are a small record of the vessels encountered. When the Canadian ships reached the end of international waters in Scandinavia the Commander of the Canadian Fleet, Commodore J.C. O’Brien RCN is said to have signalled the shadowing Russian ship "that he regretted that they would be breaking company." The Russian skipper cheekily radioed back that the Commodore need not worry, that they would be waiting for him on the return voyage.


A T–43 Class Minesweeper possibly a unit of the Polish Navy. (Photo from Nauticapedia collection.)

These steel–hulled Ocean Minesweepers were constructed in long building program from 1949–1957 in many ship yards in the former Soviet Union.

T-43 Class

A T–43 Class Minesweeper (thought to have been a unit of the East German navy) (Photo from Nauticapedia collection.)

About 1800 ships of this class were built in the Soviet Union and Poland. They were exported to the navies of many nations that used re–cycled Soviet navy ships. This vessel was on station gathering intelligence off of Copenhagen Denmark in May 1965.

P6 Class

A P–6 Class ex–Soviet East German Navy Motor Torpedo Boat (Photo from Nauticapedia collection.)

The P–6 class was a motor torpedo boat of Soviet origin. It was developed in the early 1950’s to complement the older P–4 class. These motor torpedo boats were used in large numbers from shore bases and were intended to intercept incoming enemy frigates and destroyers. The P–6 class is one of the most produced military vessels in the world totalling well over 600 ships (560 were built in Leningrad). With the introduction of missile armed attack craft the motor torpedo boat became obsolete and most were scrapped in the 1970s.

P6 Class

A P–6 Class ex-Soviet East German Navy Motor Torpedo Boat (Photo from Nauticapedia collection.)

The East German Navy was generally considered to be competent and relied upon hardware provided by the Soviet Union. They were a strategic coastal force in the Baltic. This vessel harassed HMCS Chaudiere for most of the night during passage from Kiel Germany to Copenhagen. The vessel would close at high speed making practice attack runs on the starboard bow.


A Petya Class Frigate (Probably a unit of the Soviet–era navy.) (Photo from Nauticapedia collection.)

These vessels may have been specially designed for use in the Baltic, with construction at the port city of Kaliningrad between 1960–1972. They were fitted with mine–laying rails and a torpedo tube. They carried search, fire control and other radar systems. Later a number were transferred to the Indian Navy, the Vietnamese Navy and the Syrian Navy. (82.3m x 9.1m x 3.2m 950 tons range of 4,000 miles)

Riga Class

A Riga Class Frigate of the Soviet–era navy. (Photo from Nauticapedia collection.)

These successors to the Kola Class escorts were constructed from 1952 to 1959. They were lighter and less heavily armed than the Kola class and carried a mine laying rail.

Skory Class

Skory Class Destroyer (Photo from Nauticapedia collection.)

More than 75 of the Skory class were constructed between 1949–1954, but large numbers were transferred to the navies of other countries.

To quote from this article please cite:

MacFarlane, John M. (2013) Cold War Naval Confrontations. 2013.

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