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Click here to view this topic in its original format Forum > Romania in World War II 1941-1945 > 51. The Romanian Navy on the Eastern Front

Posted by: dragos July 15, 2004 09:41 pm
by Jipa Rotaru

During all the period of the war, the forces of the Navy were in the first operative echelon. On the sea, the ratio of forces was not favourable for us. While the Soviet fleet has at its disposal a tonnage of about 200,000 tdw and more than 700 guns, the Romanian Navy had on sea a few combat ships with a tonnage of only 28,000 tdw and only 120 guns. In such circumstances, the main mission for the Navy was to participate in the defense of the seashore, with the effort in the Midia-Agigea zone, which was considered to be the most exposed to a possible attack carried out on sea by the enemy or if the Soviet would try a landing operation.

In the first phase, between June 22-August 8, 1941, when the Romanian maritime military forces directed their activities towards the defence of the seashore, were performed some operations with the view to enforce the defensive system in the area of Sulina and Constanţa harbours, and also to riposte against the more and more frequent attacks carried by submarines, by the Soviets' aircraft and, not so often, by surface combat ships of the enemy.

During the next period, the German Supreme Command decided to open the maritime communication lines, aiming at the supply of the troops disposed on the front from the Romanian harbours to the Soviet ones. Within this context, the Romanian Navy was assigned to fulfil especially the mission of assuring the security of the convoys in the western region of the Black Sea and of surveyance in the area of the Romanian seaports. Until the end of 1941, from Constanţa to Bosphorus, following a road dredged by the Romanian ships, along the coast (Tuzla-Mangalia-Sabla-Caliacra), confronting multifarious enemy's submarines' attacks (in which circumstance the Romanian ships were obliged to open fire), a great number of shippings were performed.

On the line of the river, the Romanian Navy forces rejected the attemps made by the enemy, which was purposing to take the Chilia branch and to perform an extended landing in the Danube Delta, for passing then in Dobroudja and thus reversing the Romanian front on the direction Măcin-Brăila. In the given circumstances, the dredging ships have also carried out mining missions.

In 1942, as the line of the front was going on further and further from the national sea borders, the issue of performing some missions for securing the navigation in the area of th Black Sea came on the agenda. As a result, an operative grouping of ships, which was composed of Romanian and German mining, dredging and escort ships, has set up a few mine barrages in front of Odessa.

In the next year, the Romanian escorting units accomplished their mission very well. They performed more than 467 escorting operations, totalizing more than 544 escorting missions, rejecting 30 attacks of the enemy's submarines, executed by 44 ships of the Soviets. They also faced 30 air-torpedo attacks, delivered by 112 aircraft and 23 airbombing attacks, delivered by 175 hostile aircraft. The total amount of the shipped war materials escorted by the Romanian Navy during 1943 raised at 1,083,859 t. Moreover, in the same period, the seashore units of the Romanian Navy (the escort artillery, the marine infantry, the surveyance units, the security fleet and the Riverside Navy Forces) have carried out operations of surveyance and defence of the seashore and of the banks of the river, comprising 157 patroling, dredging, surveyance and antisubmarine watching missions, and 8 mining missions, too. Also along the seashore till 150 km out at area, sea reconnaissance missions, were performed, together with missions for dredging the Danube River, thus maintaining uninterruptedly opened the way for the military convoys. During these operations, the enemy suffered losses in combat ships, totalizing 23,200 tones. The losses of the Romanian Navy, including the trading ships which were sunk ("Suceava", "Minai Viteazul" and "Ismail") raised at 33,4381.

One of the last combat action of the Romanian Navy in the World War II was the operation for the evacuation on the troops (both German and Romanian) from the Crimea Peninsula. Totally, during the whole operation, between April 14 - May 13, 1944, were saved by sea 36,557 Romanian military men, 58,486 Germans, 723 Slovakians and were shipped and got safely in our harbours 25,548t of war materials (ammunition, weapons etc). The total amount of the casualties during the evacuation operation was: 4,000 Romanians and 7,000 Germans, which means, in absolute percentage, 9-10% of the effectives planned to be evacuated by sea.

The greatest number of missions and of hours of march (flight) were defensive — mainly reconnaissance, surveying, defending the seashore or escorting the convoys. These missions were performed by the ships with special destination; so, the attack ships (the motor torpedo-boats and the submarines) registered the lowest number of missions.

On the Danube, in the second phase of the war, the forces of the Romanian Navy managed to keep their supremacy, thus ensuring in the benefit of the Romanian Army (land forces), till the summer of 1944, the absolute control under the area of the river (on both banks). The most diffîcult problem for the Navy, during 1941-1944, was the defence against the mines. For solving this problem, a great deal of solutions were applied and a great variety of means were used; the greatest part were requisitioned from the Comercial Marine, being used in a centralized manner (under the orders of the Danube Division — here, the clearest exemple is the Dredging Fleet), or on the contrary, in a non-centralized manner, under the orders of the river-port military commanders, for the defence against the mines and for maintaining the security of the navigation within the area of responsibility.

Posted by: Petre December 19, 2015 03:19 pm
A quite small selection from The War Diary of the German Naval Staff, also War Diary of Admiral Black Sea (american translation)

Dec 41

According to a report from Naval Group South (Marinegruppenkommando Süd – Sofia), Rumanian destroyers are said to have sunk a Russ. submarine on 1 Dec. and another one on 17 Dec.

On 4 Dec. the steamer "Carpaţi" was frozen fast east of Ochakov North. Engineers are trying to free her.

Since the only submarine, "Delfinul", is out of action, since the two Rumanian destroyers who are ready for action are quite insufficient for these operations, and since more forces are not available, no support can be given to 11th Army by sea.

No minesweeping because of bad weather. Rumanian destroyer Regele Ferdinand out of action for one day because of spotted typhus.

The steamer Tissa is frozen fast at Nikolayev. Traffic on the Bug River is now impossible.

According to a report from the Naval Commission Rumania, the condition of the four Rumanian destroyers is so bad that adequate repairs are possible only if material is brought from Germany. Group South requests that these destroyers be given a priority equal to that for German vessels, since they represent the only forces capable of action in the Black Sea. At the moment it is out of the question to use them for the execution of planned mining operations.

The Naval Staff also gives support to the request of Group South to make up for the fact that the production of Rumanian submarines was held up due to delayed deliveries and various changes by sending these boats on operations as early in 1942 as possible.

The Rumanian tug "Stoicescu" which had put out from Constantza on 28 December for a listening sweep against enemy submarines has been missing since that time and must be considered lost.

20 jan. 1942
Bucharest : The office of the Romanian Under-secretary of the Navy reported that they had information that for alleged commercial reasons Turkey intended to confiscate the Romanian passenger motor vessels "Transsylvania" and "Bessarabia" which had been transferred to Istanbul as a security measure before the outbreak of war. The Romanian Government is therefore planning to bring these ships to a Romanian port for safety.
I pointed out that withdrawal of the ships at the present time would involve external repercussions and that the Romanian Foreign Office should therefore be approached. I have informed the German Embassy in Bucharest.
I reported the Romanian intention to haval Group Command, South and suggested that Naval Attache, Istanbul should be informed by Group Command because his attitude should be known as soon as possible. I also suggested to Group Command that in Istanbul these ships might be protected by taking them over under German colors if this were possible and advisable.
In my opinion, the transfer of the Italian tanker "Albaro" to the Bosporus, planned when the weather improves, and the later transfer of the 2 Romanian ships to a Bulgarian port would be dangerous in each case, because without doubt the Russian naval forces, especially the submarines at sea, have been informed of these convoys.
I would prefer a separate operation on the following lines: The 2 Romanian R-class destroyers could pick up motor vessels "Transsylvania" and "Bessarabia" at nightfall off the Bosporus, then proceed temporarily north on deceptive course and later steer a westerly course far from the coast to the Bulgarian port in question.

The German Operations Staff (Führungsstab) ( 1, 3, and 4. Admiralstabsoffizier with their staffs and communications personnel ) was transferred to Eforia (Nord)...

6 mining operations are planned, 5 of which will be carried out by minelayer "Murgescu" escorted by destroyer "Regele Ferdinand" off Eupatoria, Ak Mechet, Yalta, Feodosiya and in the southern Kerch Strait. The 6th operation consists in mining the approach point off Cape Kherson(?) and is now being prepared.

Group South expects that Rumanian political leaders and the Rumanian Navy will cause difficulties, since they believe that it is too dangerous to use Rumanian ships. These difficulties will have to be overcome, however. Unfortunately the 5 mining operations mentioned above and urgently requested by the 11. Army cannot be carried out for the time being, since according to the report of Group South on 17 Mar., the Commander Naval Air Black Sea (4th Air Force) has at the present time only one airplane ready for operations, and the Commander, Air, South of the 4th Air Force has no planes available for escort and reconnaissance at sea.
Group South believes, however, that the 6th operation (minefield off Cape Khersones) can be carried out even with limited air reconnaissance. The Admiral Black Sea has therefore been ordered to ask Rumanian political leaders and the Rumanian Navy to carry out this operation.

... according to the Deputy Chief Group South, the Rumanian government refused to carry out the mining operation off Cape Kherson. Group South believes that it is useless to broach the matter once more.

2 Apr. 1942
3 enemy planes attacked and bombed Rumanian naval forces while they vere engaged in laying a mine field off Constanta. The bow of minelayer "Dacia" was damaged. Rumanian fighter planes have taken off. No further reports were received. The naval force has returned to Constanta. Further enemy air attacks occurred at the mouth of the Kiliya at noon and at the mouth of the Sulina in the afternoon.

4 apr. 42
The plan to put into action the 2 newly built submarines of the Rumanian Navy under German command and with a large proportion of German personnel has met with considerable misgivings on the part of the Admiral Black Sea, who emphasized that this would greatly affect the morale of the Rumanian Navy. He proposed that all German personnel should be withdrawn from these submarines with the exception of a small German training crew. The Tactical Branch of the Naval Staff, Submarine Division has therefore been ordered to modify the present German plan accordingly.

For reasons of a military, political, and economic ... number of German troops in Rumania reduced even further as soon as possible... As of 15 May the maximum figure of German personnel in Rumania will be 3,200 for the Navy, 6,500 for the Army, and 17,000 for the Air Force.

The Chief Naval Attache Section reports that the Rumanian Gov. wishes the German Navy to accept for training 6 naval officer candidates and 6 engineer officer candidates in the fall of 1942.
The Commander in Chief Navy gives his approval under the condition that those chosen must know German.

2 June 1942
Steamer "Romania" sailed from Varna under escort for Constantza. She is intended as a depot ship for 1. S-bootflotilla and after a period in dock at Constantza for completion of conversion work, she will return to Varna (?).

... Rumanian naval forces are under the direct administrative command of the Rumanian High Command, but under the operational command of the Commanding Admiral, Black Sea. The authority of the Commander, Naval Training Detachment (Chef Deutsches Marinelehrkommando) remains as herefore. The Commanding Admiral Black Sea puts the Commanding Rumanian Naval Forces in charge of naval supply shipments from Rumanian ports to Nikolayev. The Commanding Admiral Black Sea will directly dispose over naval combat forces if the necessity arises.

Group South does not recommend the use of submarine "Delfinul" for transport operations because her loading capacity is not great enough to be worth while; also, being a Rumanian vessel, "Delfinul" would have to be handled with particular care, with the result that her use would hardly be more time-saving than that of a surface ship. The Naval Staff agrees with this viewpoint.

2 October.
At the torpedoing of the steamer "Salzburg" .... There were 2,500 Russian prisoners of war on the "Salzburg". It is reported that 16 Germans and 47 Rumanians have so far boon rescued as well as about 200 prisoners. Figures are not yet final.

5 oct. 42
Practically speaking the Rumanian Navy will only be valuable for escort duties. Bearing in mind Rumania's post-war maritime status, her Navy will strictly limit the operations of its offensive weapons, submarines and MTBs, or employ them to no purpose.
Această situaţie incontestabilă ne forţează mai departe să avem în vedere să alocăm de la noi importante forţe de muncă pentru finalizarea unor astfel de armamente, chiar dacă ele nu vor fi complet la dispoziţia germanilor, ceea ce pare puţin probabil. Propun să continuăm activitatea, dar fără vre-o concentrare a eforturilor, adică în manieră românească şi, în orice caz, sarcinile noastre să aibă prioritate, chiar şi faţă de terminarea submarinelor româneşti. Orice reparaţie rapidă executată la navele proprii este mult mai importantă decât finalizarea submarinelor şi vedetelor torpiloare româneşti ... Solicit o decizie din partea Marinegruppenkommando Süd ...

The first steamer convoy from Constantza to Sevastopol proceeded without incident. The steamer "Suceava" (approximately 7,000 TRB) entered Sevastopol at 18.50, escorted by 2 Rumanian destroyers and 2 R-boote.

... Air Force Staff Crimea replied that a heavy antiaircraft battery was today transferred to Theodosia to reinforce the antiaircraft defenses, but additional fighters cannot at present be spared. The 43rd Rumanian Fighter Staffel with 14 planes, is responsible for the defense of the whole area.

... Air Force Staff Crimea stated that parts of the 45rd Rumanian Fighter Staffel have been transferred to Eupatoria for the protection of convoys and that Rumanian Air Force Command was endeavoring to supply fighters for the same work off the west coast.

In order to increase the U-boote operational period, the intention is that the boats should refuel at Theodosia ... If necessary, a fresh stock of torpedoes may be obtained from "Romania" at Sevastopol. This intermediate refueling will mean another 4 days in the operational area. This would coincide with the maximum physical endurance of the crew. Inclusive of the stay in the operational area, tho whole period would be 25 days.

Sevastopol harbor was heavily raided by 18 planes which dropped about 20 bombs. The planes ... from Balaklava across the mountains so that the anti-aircraft defenses were taken by surprise ard started firing too late. The accommodation ship "Evdoxia" belonging to the 1.Landungsflottile suffered a near miss which made her spring a leak and sink at the pier. Preliminary investigation suggests that it will be possible to salvage her.
The escort ship "Romania" was slightly damaged by bomb splinters. ... Losses : 5 Germans killed, 22 wounded, including Lieut. Willach, who has serious injuries. Rumanian losses: 40 killed and 70 wounded. In addition 9 HiWi were killed.

Group South reported the request of the Rumanian Head of State that the passenger steamers "Transylvania" and "Bessarabia" be recalled from Istanbul to a Rumanian port as soon as possible. The Head of State has been informed of Group South's opinion which is as follows :
1. As a result of military developments on the Eastern Front, a change in Turkey's attitude is not to be expected for the present. Therefore no new indications of threat to the ships in the Bosporus are seen.
2. In view of the present situation, the withdrawal of the ships would create excitement and apprehension in Turkey, neither in the interests of Rumania nor of Germany.
3. With the present shortage of escort vessels urgently needed for the supply traffic, we cannot allow any of them to be assigned to transfer operations. The Head of State has not yet revealed his attitude to our point of view.
The Naval Special Duties Detachment has worked out the orders for the transfer which will take place without orders from the Group. Should political considerations call for a different opinion at a higher level, it is requested that instructions be issued accordingly.

Steamer "Harkov" which was escorted by the Rumanian destroyer "Marasesti" and 4 R-boote ran aground off the entrance to Sevastopol. Immediate attempts to tow her off were unsuccessful. The ship's tonnage was then reduced to a minimum by all available forces in Sevastopol and Commander, 3 Raum-Flotilla was directed to put out with 4 R-boote lying in Sevastopol and „Schiff 19” for anti-submarine patrol in the vicinity of the stranded vessel.
The question of blame has not yet been settled.
The preliminary investigations which I ordered in Sevastopol revealed that the commander of "Harkov" had been following in the wake of the escort vessels which were sailing ahead with connected gear. One can assume that, as the ship ran aground in water 8 meters deep, the commander of the escort forgot to consider "Harkov" 's deep draught and therefore passed too near the shoals.
I have ordered court-martial proceedings against the commander of "Harkov" and have instructed the Command Rumanian Naval Forces to take similar measures against the Rumanian commander of the escort.

.... investigation as to the possible employment of steamer ''Romania”. It was learned that, with slight alteration (moving of the mooring-posts on the stern), she could be used as an auxiliary minelayer. About 180 mines could be carried on deck and about 4 more in the forward hold. Preparations for conversion are to be started at once and at the same time negotiations should bo carried out with her shipping company.

The inquiry of OKW, Operations Staff regarding the report made by the Commander Kriegsmarine to the Fuhrer on the enlargement of the base at Constanta has been settled by the receipt of Rumanian approval in the meantime. An order from OKW, Operations Staff is worded as follows:
I. Since the receipt of Rumanian consent, the enlargement of the submarine base at Constanta has been approved.
2. The consequent increase of personnel will be restricted at once to a maximum of 200 workers, and to a maximum of 300-men of military personnel as from the middle of next year.
3. The Foreign Office has been asked to give priority to the question of expenses within, the framework of German-Rumanian economic negotiations.

1944 jan
The Rumanian Gov. renewed request for the allocation of MTBs. Beginning April 1944, Naval Staff propose to allocate in all 4 MTBs and 2 R-boote - the MTBs at the rate of one per month.
An allocation of MTBs instead of R-boote would be a more feasible proposition, especially if we could postpone the date of delivery to Rumania by two months. A complete refusal of the two requests is inadvisable for political reasons.

With regard to the construction of a submarine yard and naval base at Constanta, Chief Submarine Section ... reported from Bucharest that funds are now assured. The Rumanian Navy Department is asking for our cooperation so that the pens can also be used for Rumanian submarines. The German proposed site, just south of Constanta, has been rejected; the Rumanians want to continue with the development of a site 10 miles north of Constanta near Cape Media, where they had begun to build a submarine base and then dropped the work on the outbreak of war. There is little chance of our being able to persuade them from their plans. Their intervention means that our plans for building must be extended and it will be very difficult to carry them out. Another report has been promised.

30 Jan. 1944
... according to a report from German Naval Command the Rumanian ships "Transylvania" and "Bessarabia" have been sold to Turkey. Admiral, Black Sea pointed out that this entails a weakening in the tonnage of the nations allied with Germany and asked whether we knew anything about the negotiations or took any steps to intervene in the matter.

26 Mar. 1944
... in accordance with an intelligence report, Romanian circles at this time are expressing the expectation that in event of German seizure of power in Romania accounting to the Hungarian pattern, the plan would be to withdraw the Romanian naval forces from German seizure under the leadership of Admiral Macellariu.
With all reservation, Kriegsmarine sends this message for information to OKW, Operations Staff, Navy.
Admiral Black Sea adopted precautionary measures that for the next time the attitude of the Romanians would "be observed more intensively. He plans to visit Constanta and Bukarest and Admirals Macellariu and Georgescu ...

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