Note: For a better understanding of the acronyms used in the article, they will be explained from the beginning:
- NMS = His Majesty's Ship (Rom)
- UJ = Submarine hunter (Ger)
- Rb = R-boot = Security ship used as AA, AS platform or as mine dredge
- MFP = PTA = Armed transport pontoon
- KFK = Light submarine hunter
- KT = Transport ship
- Sb = S-boot = Motor torpedo boat
- ChF = The Soviet Black Sea Fleet
- VVS-ChF = The Air Force of the Black Sea Fleet
The Romanian Royal Navy named the evacuation of Crimea Operation "60,000", because the number of Romanian troops still found in the peninsula was around 62,000 – 65,000 in April 1944. This operation was executed in two phases: the first one between 12 April and 5 May and, the most dramatic, between 6 and 13 May.
After it became clear that the defense lines in the Perekop Isthmus and South of the Sivash Sea could not hold, the German 17th Army commenced to implement the "Adler" Plan: the evacuation of Crimea. The first convoy left Constanta in the afternoon of 11 Apriland was made up of the German tanker Prodromos and the Hunagrian cargo ship Kassa, escorted by the NMS Ghiculescu gunboat, UJ 115 and Rb 163. The destroyers NMS Regina Maria and NMS Marasesti together with an R-boot joined them with mission to take another convoy from Sevastopol to Romania.
The Constanta harbor area was bombarded during the night, but the very powerful AA barrage and the artificial fog caused the Soviet aircraft to drop their bombs in the sea, 1 km away from the target. Another VVS attack took place during the night of 17/18 April, but because of the artificial fog the bombers weren't able to locate the port. These failures probably determined the Soviet command to cancel other raids on Constanta, favoring the evacuation operation.
On 12 April, NMS Regina Maria and NMS Marasesti arrived at Sevastopol, after escaping two aerial attacks. In the afternoon they returned to Constanta escorting together with UJ 103 and Rb 163 the Ardeal, Helga and Tisza transport ships, which had 4,361 men onboard (700 Romanians, 3,197 Germans, 47 Russian volunteers and 417 POWs). The convoy was attacked by a submarine on 13 April, at 0917 hours. It fired 3 torpedoes that were avoided. The NMS Dumitrescu gunboat, UJ 115 and 2 R-boots escorted Prodromos, Kassa and a MFP from Sevastopol to Constanta, arriving at destination in the morning of 14 April.
The same day left from Sevastopol several small German vessels: two tugs with lighters, two MFPs and 4 KFKs. They were transporting 2,038 men (377 Romanians, 1,543 Germans, 113 volunteers and 5 civilians). Because of the low speed they required almost two days for the crossing. In the opposite direction, from Constanta, NMS Amiral Murgescu, 3 KFKs and a R-boot escorted the Romanian Oituz cargo ship and the German Laudon, Theben and Erzherzog Karl, which were carrying munitions and food. On 15 April, between 0815 and 1645 hours, the convoy was attacked five times by Soviet bombers. The AA artillery on the NMS Murgescu shot down two of them, but the 102 mm gun and one of the 20 mm guns were damaged. After it had just arrived at Sevastopol, the mine-laying ship led back to Constanta the convoy made up of the Ossag tanker, the KT 25 and KT 26 transport ships, which had 3,973 men onboard, most of them Germans, UJ 103 and Rb 166. They arrived at destination two days later.
On 16 April two German convoys left from Sevastopol. The first one was made up of the Kinburn, Laudon, Theben and Erzherzog Karl, escorted by 8 MFPs and 2 KFKs. These transported 5,417 people, of which 3,765 Germans and 516 Romanians. Also under German escort left the Kassa, Lola and Tisza cargo ships. These had on board 2,561 men, most of them Germans and Russian volunteers. Only 6 were Romanians. The convoy was attacked without effect by a Soviet submarine in the vicinity of Sevastopol. Then, at 1434 hours, the BV-180 seaplane that was surveying the ships observed a submarine. One bomb hit the Soviet vessel and it was presumed sunk. It is possible it was the L-6, the last submarine lost by ChF in combat. On the same day, the Oituz cargo ship left Crimea with Sulina as destination. The following day, 30 nautical miles Southeast of Sf. Gheorghe, the ship was attacked by 6 Pe-2s of 40 BAP and damaged.
The firs tragedy of the evacuation took place on 18 April. In the night of 17 April, the ships Alba Iulia and Danubius left Crimea, escorted by the NMS Marasti destroyer, the NMS Ghiculescu gunboat, UJ 104 and Rb 216. At 1100 hours, a torpedo passed by the convoy's rear. NMS Ghiculescu went over to the area from where it had been fired and started to hunt for the submarine. It launched two AS grenades and bubbles started to appear on the surface. The German seaplane indicated then a new position for the sub and the gunboat launched another 5 grenades. Even bigger bubbles appeared. UJ 104 took over the hunt and Ghiculescu returned to the convoy. It is also possible that it was L-6. At 1220 hours, after they have exited the dangerous area, the ships were attacked by four Il-4s of 5 GMTAP that dropped their cargo from an altitude of 1,000 m. The bombs fell close to the Alba Iulia, but didn't cause any damage. At 1237 hours, four A-20Gs of 36 MTAP attacked in a dive, coming from the sun. This time a bomb fell near the ship, making a breach 10 m wide and 6 m high and another one hit a storage room, killing some 500 Soviet POWs. TheAlba Iulia leaned around 10 degrees to the port side, the bow sunk and the propeller came out of the water a little. The soldiers were stricken by panic and began to jump overboard. From Constanta were immediately sent the NMS Regele Ferdinand and NMS Regina Maria destroyers, as well as 7 transport seaplanes. Also, the convoy made up of the Ossag, KT 25 and KT 26, heading for Sevastopol, was diverted to pickup the survivors. UJ 104 attempted to tow the Alba Iulia, but its rudder was blocked and it was practically impossible.
At 1320 hours three aircraft appeared. The bombs didn't hit the ship, but they fell among the men in the water killing a part of them. After 10 minutes, five torpedo-bombers attacked. The torpedoes missed and passed by the wreck's bow. The AA artillery on the ships shot down two A-20s.
By 1500 hours, all the men in the water had been recovered by the escort and the German seaplanes and at 1540 hours the Ossag convoy appeared to take the men still onboard the ship. Because the Alba Iulia was still afloat, at 1700 hours, two tugs left from Constanta. After an hour and a half, the ship leaned over to the port side with another 20 degrees and the crew had to be evacuated. In the morning of 19 April a team from the NMS Regele Ferdinand managed to unlock the rudder, after several attempts. In the afternoon Alba Iulia was towed, its engines were restarted, and on 20 April, at 1030 hours, it entered in the Constanta harbor. It would remain under repairs until the end of the war.
The other ships of the convoy, loaded with vanatori de munte (for example NMS Ghiculescu had 714 onboard), arrived at Constanta on 19 April. The NMS Marasti destroyer arrived earlier than it had to and the lighthouse at Tuzla wasn't lit. It hit some sand banks and ran aground. The ship was rescued and towed to the port, but the damage it had suffered would keep it away from operations in April and May, right when the Royal Romanian Navy desperately needed all its ships.
On 19 and 20 April two German convoys left for Sevastopol and in the opposite direction came three with over 17,000 men onboard. NMS Regele Ferdinand headed on 21 April towards Crimea together with Rb 206 and Rb 207 escorting the Ossag tanker and the KT 26 cargo ship. The following day, in the morning, the convoy was attacked twice. At 0830 hours a formation of 13 Il-2s of 47 ShAP appeared, but it didn't cause any damage to the ships. These were followed shortly by 18 Il-2s of 8 GshAP, which were also unsuccessful. One Il-2 was shot down by fighters. In about an hour, at 0940 hours, the second wave came, twelve bombers of 13 GDBAP, which managed to hit the Ossag at the bow and splinters from a bomb that fell near the NMS Regele Ferdinand took out the destroyer's radio station. Two A-20s were downed by the fighter escort and another one fell into the sea, probably because of engine failure. KT 26 tried to tow the tanker, but at 1110 hours 6 Pe-2s appeared and stopped the operation. Thus the Ossag together with Rb 206 returned to Constanta, while the NMS Regele Ferdinand, Rb 207 and KT 26 continued the trip to Sevastopol, being at about 30 nautical miles Southeast of the port. At 1326 hours, the three ships were again attacked from the air by 6 bombers of 40 BAP. The destroyer was hit by a bomb that didn't go off and that made a small hole in the side of the ship above the waterline. It was discovered only after several days at Constanta in one of its fuel tanks. Meanwhile, the Ossag had started to experience problems ands it was decided to take it to Sevastopol again, because it was closer. UJ 103 was sent by the German command to assist Rb 206. On 23 April, the two ships managed to tow the Ossag and headed towards the harbor. On the route, the M-35 submarine fired two torpedoes on UJ 103 and missed. It was pursued and depth charged, but escaped. Two air attacks followed: the first one was carried out by 5 A-20s of 36 MTAP and the second one by 13 A-20s of 13 GDBAP. The upper deck of the US 103 was destroyed and had to return to base. The R-boots sunk the badly damaged Ossag at 1602 hours 15 nautical miles Southwest of Sevastopol.
On 21 April the Ardeal cargo ship, which had been damaged during an accidental fire several days before, left Sevastopol, under escort by 3 S-boots, one R-boot and UJ 105. NMS Marasesti waited for them en route and took over command of the convoy that reached its destination in the evening of 22 April. There was a submarine attack during the trip, but without repercussions. Another convoy that left for Constanta on 21 was made up of the Budapest and Danubius transport ships, escorted by 4 KFKs and UJ 116. En route they were attacked by a formation of 12 A-20s of 13 GDAP. Danubius was damaged and Budapest had two dead and one wounded onboard. One A-20 was shot down.
On 23 April, four convoys left from Sevastopol: NMS Regele Ferdinand, UJ 103 and Rb 197, escorting the Totila, KT 25 and KT 26; Tisza escorted by 4 MFPs; 4 German motor lighters escorted de 4 MFPs and 2 KFKs; Lola and Kassa escorted by several MFPs. During the crossing, the lightly defended convoys were repeatedly attacked by VVS-ChF aircraft, but didn't suffer any damage and arrived at Constanta in the evening of 24 April. The following day the German tug Kreutzenstein, the Leo lighter and 10 MFPs, while en route to the Romanian port, were attacked by 12 Il-2s of 47 ShAP. The lighter, which carried 1,045 men onboard, received a direct hit and sunk. Only about 750 were rescued.
Also on 25 April left from Constanta the convoy made up of the Durostor, Helga, PTA 404 and PTA 406, escorted by the NMS Ghiculescu gunboat, UJ 115, 3 MFPs, one R-boot and one KFK. From Sulina departed KT 18, UJ 104, one R-boot and several MFPs. These were also attacked by aircraft and PTA 406 was damaged and immobilized on 26 April. Rb 37 tried to tow it, but it was impossible because of the heavy sea. The crew left it and the ship was spotted the following day by a seaplane. It was brought to Sevastopol for repairs by two R-boots.
27 April was the last day of the first phase of the evacuation. The last two convoys loaded with troops bound for Romania were made up of the Durostor, Helga and KT 18, escorted by NMS Ghiculescu, UJ 115, one R-boot and two KFKs and from 17 MFPs, PTA 404 and PTA 406. Some 10 nautical miles Southwest of Sevastopol, the Soviet motor torpedo boats TKA-332 and TKA-334 launched four torpedoes on the first convoy. One of them struck the UJ 104 submarine hunter, that was part of the escort only in the first part of the crossing. NMS Ghiculescu started to fire flares with the 88 mm gun and the entire escort opened fire on the Soviet ships. TKA-332 was hit and sunk. UJ 104 was towed back to Sevastopol, where it would be destroyed on 9 May following a bombardment. The other convoy was also attacked by two motor torpedo boats, but didn't suffer any losses.
In total during the first phase of the operation, between 14 and 27 April 1944, 73,058 people left Crimea by sea:
- 20,779 Romanians, of which 2,296 wounded
- 28,394 Germans, din care 4.995 wounded
- 723 Slovaks
- 15,055 Russian volunteers
- 2,559 POWs
- 3,748 civilians
Of these about 1,5% died during the crossing. One German tanker and one lighter, representing 8% of the tonnage engaged in the operation, were sunk (about 3,000 tons) and several Romanian transport ships were damaged. One Romanian destroyer and two armed transport pontoons, as well as two German submarine hunters were damaged. On the other side the losses were also important. 12 VVS aircraft were shot down, one submarine and one motor torpedo boat were sunk. Another submarine was seriouslt damaged.
The convoys to and from Sevastopol continued. Between 28 April and 7 May there were 14 of them. The ships were transporting munitions and supplies to the besieged garrison and returned to Constanta with evacuated materials and soldiers.
And the losses continued. On 3 May, the German motor lighter Junak was sunk by a formation of 9 A-20s from 13 GDBAP at 80 nautical miles Southwest of Sf. Gheorghe. The following day, another German motor lighter the Erzherzog Karl, which had 700 Romanian soldiers onboard, was hit by a bomb that killed 24 and had to return to Sevastopol. On 6 May was sunk a German armed transport pontoon (MFP 132) and the Hungarian Budapest cargo ship was damaged by 12 Il-2s from 8 GShAP.
Following the loss of the Sapun Heights, in the night of 7/8 May, the German 17th Army started the retreat to the positions at Khersones, from where the evacuation had to restart, but this time under more dramatic circumstances than in April.
At midnight on 8/9 May left from Sevastopol the Bradul 1 convoy (KT 18, UJ 105 and 2 R-boots) with 2,887 men onboard, followed after a short while by Bradul 2 (NMS Ghiculescu and NMS Dumitrescu gunboats). From Constanta left the Patria convoy (Teja and Totila escorted by the NMS Marasesti and NMS Regina Maria destroyers). NMS Marasesti joined the Bradul 1 with which it went back to Romania and NMS Regina Maria arrived in the vicinity of Sevastopol at 0035 hours on 10 May and took over the command of the Bradul 3 convoy (Durostor, Lola and UJ 106).
The situation became critical in the morning of 9 May. Both the last Axis airfield in the peninsula and the Sevastopol harbor were continuously bombarded by Soviet artillery. Practically the friendly fighter force was reduced to several Bf-110s operating from bases in Moldavia and the VVS and the VVS-ChF could operate without encountering much opposition. The last formation of Ju-52s with wounded took of from Khersones that morning. In the harbor, the Soviet artillery sunk the German Prodromos tanker, the Günther motor lighter, the Basarabia lighter (also flying the Kriegsmarine colors), KFK 2313 and UJ 104, which had been torpedoed several days before. Just after exiting the harbor, the Var lighter and UJ BW 01 were attacked by Soviet aircraft and sunk. KFK 2314 was seriously damaged, continued the trip. The port and city were abandoned by the German and Romanian troops. The evacuation would continue only from Khersones.
On the other side of the sea, from Constanta left 4 convoys: Sturzul (Geiserich and Theben escorted by 3 MFPs and 2 KFKs), Profetul (Danubius, Helga, Tisza and Grafenau escorted by 4 MFPs, NMS Stihi and UJ 115), Pionier (Lobau and Dresden escorted by 3 MFPs, 5 KFKs and one R-boot) and Ovidiu (Romania, KT 25 and KT 26 escorted by UJ 110 and NMS Regele Ferdinand).
The first ships that reached Khersones on 10 May were the German transport ships Teja and Totila. They were attacked at 0522 hours by a formation of 20 Soviet aircraft, but they didn't suffer any damage. Until 0830 hours they were loaded with soldiers brought from the beach with assault boats and then headed back to Constanta escorted by 3 R-boots. At 0930 hours, the convoy was attacked by 21 Il-2s from 8 GshAP and Totila was hit by three bombs, sinking very fast with 5,000 men (of these around 2,000 were Romanians). Teja and the escort couldn't help the survivors and continued the trip. At 1445 hours, a formation of 11 A-20s from 13 GDBAP appeared over the ships and hit the Teja, which sank with some 5,000 men onboard (of these 2,000 were Romanians from the "Lt. col. Ardeleanu" Detachment). The three R-boots couldn't save more than 400 men and continued the trip to Constanta. Lt. col. Ardeleanu, the CO of the 33rd Infantry Regiment, who had faced a powerful Soviet offensive South of the Sivash Sea, who had made his way to Sevastopol with the remains of his regiment and who commanded the detachment left behind in the city by the 10th Infantry Division, found his death in the middle of the Black Sea. The ships and the seaplanes sent to pick up the survivors arrived too late. These 10,000 men lost on the two vessels represented practically over 90% of the losses suffered during the evacuation.
The situation worsened because of a storm that caused damages to several ships in the convoys. KT 25, the tug Grafenau and several MFPs had to turn back to the harbor. More seriously, the storm destroyed several boats that were ferrying the soldiers from the beaches to the transport ships and the operation was disorganized. The Profetul convoy was discovered by Soviet reconnaissance aircraft at 1723 hours and four successive attacks occurred: 14 airplanes at 1742 hours, 8 at 1800 hours, 6 at 1807 hours and 3 at 1840 hours, but without effects. It would reach Sevastopol in the following morning, in the same time with the other three.
In the evening three convoys left Constanta: Fagul (Uskok, 17 MFPs and one R-boot), Astra (Isar, Lech, Anna and Mossel escorted by one MFP and 4 KFKs) and Musca (Friedericke and KT 18 escorted by NMS Marasesti, UJ 105, UJ 108, Rb 205 and NMS Dumitrescu). During the crossing, on 11 May at 0545 hours, the Friedericke tanker was hit by a torpedo fired by the L-4 submarine. The other two torpedoes were avoided by the Marasesti and the Dumitrescu. The tanker was only damaged, but had to be towed by KT 18 and UJ 108 and, under the escort of the NMS Marasesti destroyer, returned towards Constanta, while UJ 105 and the Dumitrescu gunboat continued to Khersones. Around 1600 hours, the tugs from Constanta arrived and took over Friedericke. KT 18 and its escort headed to Crimea.
At 0200 hours on 11 May, the first ships arrived at Khersones and were taken in by the enemy artillery, being forced to maneuver incessantly. After sunrise the situation became more complicated, because Soviet assault aircraft appeared over the ships. At 0752 hours, 12 Il-2s from 47 ShAP struck the Romania and the ship caught fire after the munitions onboard exploded. However, the crew and the soldiers onboard were rescued. Several minutes later, at 0800 hours, 6 Il-2s from 8 GShAP attacked the Danubius, which still had 7 tons of munitions inside. Several bombs hit the cargo ship and it blew up. There were very few survivors. The German transport Helga ran aground and was later destroyed by a formation of Il-2s.
The destroyer NMS Regele Ferdinand, after being lightly damaged by a 76.2 mm shell during the night, was the target of no less than 33 air attacks between 0600 and 1030 hours. The low altitude attacks were repelled using the 120 mm main guns, while the AA artillery shot down several enemy aircraft. At 0930 hours, a Soviet 152 mm battery targeted the destroyer. Lt. cmdr. Titus Samson, the ship's captain, ordered immediately to put the engines in full reverse, avoiding the next salvo, which would have undoubtedly hit the vessel. The 120 mm guns returned fire and their shells fell close to the positions of the enemy battery, silencing it. Eventually the Regele Ferdinand was hit beneath the waterline by a bomb that didn't go off, but made a hole in one of the fuel tanks. With 11 members of the crew killed and 28 wounded, plus 10 dead passengers and many more wounded, loosing fuel, the destroyer set out for Constanta at 1030 hours, being continuously attacked by aircraft. En route it picked up 6 Germans and two Romanians on a raft. They were survivors from the Teja. NMS Regele Ferdinand arrived in the vicinity of Constanta. Because it ran out of fuel, it had to be towed to port.
From Sevastopol left another two convoys on 11 May. The first one was made up from the Grafenau and Theben escorted by UJ 115, UJ 110, one R-boot and 9 MFPs and the second one was made up from the Tisza escorted by the NMS Stihi gunboat, one R-boot and 4 MFPs. This second convoy was attacked by several successive waves of aircraft and around 1600 hours the Tisza was hit and damaged. It was then towed by an R-boot from the Stejarul convoy. The ship approximately 1,600 soldiers onboard.
Stejarul was a convoy made up of the NMS Dacia and NMS Amiral Murgescu mine-laying ships, the NMS Regina Maria destroyer and 2 R-boots. It left Constanta on 11 May at 0240 hours. Because of the loss of the three transport ships off the coast at Khersones, another four convoys were set in motion: Orient at 1800 hours, Trandarirul and Barul at 2000 hours, 9 MFPs at 2200 hours. These didn't made it to Crimea however, because the evacuation was over.
Stejarul arrived at Khersones on 12 May at 2100 hours. The three warships were continuously bombarded by Soviet artillery firing with the help of flares. NMS Dacia, a former transport ship, remained farther from the coast and loaded soldiers from four MFPs. While the transfer took place, Soviet aircraft launched flares and then attacked. Several bombs fell close to the ship and the splinters wounded Barbu Radian, a merchant marine officer, who died the following day in a hospital in Constanta. At 0100 hours lt. Vasile Panaitescu, the first officer, was also wounded. A bomb fell at stern on a pile of rope, which reduced the effect of the explosion. However, the splinters killed two sailors and wounded another 21. At 0130 hours a malfunction occurred at the engines and the ship was immobilized for 20 minutes. Around 0200 hours, there were already 1,200 people onboard, so it slowly started its trip back to Constanta. After sunrise on 12 May, Dacia was attacked by three waves of Soviet torpedo bombers, but which were scattered from distance by the 105 mm guns and all missed. At 0853 the rudder was damaged following the nearby explosion of a bomb and had to stop for repairs at sea, under the protection of the NMS Regina Maria destroyer. At 0932 hours it resumed the journey and around 1600 hours it had reached Constanta. 25 of the German soldiers onboard were killed during the Soviet air attacks.
The NMS Regina Maria destroyer got closer to the shore and started to load soldiers from a MFP at 2316 hours. The operation was over at 0044 hours. It had 650 men onboard. Fortunately it didn't suffer any damage and left immediately for Constanta with maximum speed. On 13 May, at 0222 hours it passed by the NMS Dumitrescu gunboat and UJ 105. At 0544 hours it caught up with the Dacia and ensured its protection during the rest of the trip. The convoy entered the harbor at 1609 hours.
The NMS Amiral Murgescu, commanded by lt. cmdr. Anton Foca, was the last Romanian vessel left behind in the inferno at Khersones. Until 0200 hours on 13 May it had around 1,000 soldiers onboard, including gen. Hartmann, the last CO of the bridgehead de pod, and it set course for Romania, where it would arrive at 1700 hours. Just after the Murgescu, the KT 18, UJ-108 and one R-boot left, followed by Laudon, Dresden, Uskok and several KFKs. The evacuation was over. The MFPs lingered on to take as much soldiers onboard as possible and then they also headed for Constanta. At 0330 hours, the 13 motor torpedo boats of the 1. Sb Flotille, which had secured the evacuation against a possible ChF surface ship attack, left Crimea with rear admiral Otto Schultz, the German naval commander in the peninsula, onboard. He was the one who coordinated the operations at Khersones. The last men saved were 57 Germans picked up by three motor torpedo boats from life rafts by the coast.
The losses continued to mount. The German motor lighter Geisereich was sunk following the attack by a formation of 11 Il-2s of 8 GShAP. UJ 310 was seriously damaged by enemy artillery and had to be scuttled. The most important loss was the Durostor cargo ship, which was attacked 75 de nautical mile from Khersones by 12 Pe-2s of 40 BAP and hit by two bombs, which immobilized it. The crew was taken by the 3 R-boots from the escort and the ship sank soon afterwards.
In this second phase of the evacuation, 47,825 de men were transported by sea to Constanta: 15,078 Romanians, 28,992 Germans and 3.755 Soviets (volunteers, POWs and civilians).About 10,000 men were lost during the crossing , of which some 4,000 were Romanians. The NMS Regele Ferdinand had 12 crewmen KIA and 28 WIA, the NMS Dacia 3 KIA and 22 WIA and the NMS Ghiculescu one MIA and one WIA. Three large transport ships flying the Romanian flag were sunk (4,598 tons in total) and two warships were damaged. The Germans lost 5 ships, three tugs and two lighters (11,196 tons in total) and another vessel was damaged. Four German submarine hunters were sunk, as were three motorboats. Another six submarine hunters were damaged. Also, two Hungarian transport ships were damaged.
In total, between 14 April – 13 May 1944, 120,853 men and 22,548 tone of cargo were evacuated by sea from Crimea:
- 36.557 Romanians, of which 4,262 wounded
- 58,486 Germans, of which 12,027 wounded
- 723 Slovaks
- 15,391 Soviet volunteers
- 2.581 POWs
- 7.115 civilians
The Romanian Royal Navy received congratulations from the grand admiral Karl Dönitz, the commander of the Kriegsmarine, and from vice admiral Helmuth Brinkmann, commander of the German forces in the Black Sea, for the way it operated during the evacuation. The Germans were very surprised to see the Romanians risk even the precious destroyers at Khersones. Most of the ship commanders received the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class: cmdr. Alexandru Dumbrava, captain of the NMS Marasesti destroyer, lt. cmdr. Titus Samson, captain of the NMS Regele Ferdinand destroyer, lt. cmdr. Gheorghe Rosescu, captain of the NMS Regina Maria destroyer, lt. cmdr. Anton Foca, captain of the NMS Amiral Murgescu mine-laying ship, lt. cmdr. Constantin Costin, captain of the NMS Sublocotenent Ghiculescu Ion gunboat, lt. cmdr. Ioan Iftimescu, captain of the NMS Locotenent comandor Stihi Eugen gunboat and lt. Radu Constantinidi, captain of the NMS Capitan Dumitrescu Constantin gunboat. The CO of the Romanian Naval Sea Force, rear admiral Horia Macellariu, received the Grand Cross of the Steaua Romaniei Order and the Ritterkreuz, being the only Romanian naval officer to receive this high German award. He already received the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class in 1943.
The operation was a success considering the conditions in which it took place. The distance between Constanta and Sevastopol was 220 nautical miles and the crossing lasted an average 24 hours. Air support was weak and, after the loss of the last airfield at Khersones, it became inexistent, facilitating the success of the Soviet assault and bomber airplanes. Fortunately, the ChF limited its efforts to submarine and motor torpedo boats attacks against the convoys. It didn't risk any of the large the surface ships, for fear of Luftwaffe bombers.
It is obvious that an earlier evacuation would have saved more of the 220,000 men that the 17th Army had in April 1944.