- Birth Place
- Kamenets-Podolski, Ukraine
- Date of Birth
- 26 February 1910
- Date of Death
- 13 May 1988
Although born in the Ukraine he was a Russian by nationality.
He joined the Soviet Navy in 1927 and graduated from the Frunze Naval Academy in 1931.
As a junior officer and a non party member he escaped the Great Purge initiated by Stalin in the second half of the 1930s. It in fact benefited him as he advanced more quickly through the ranks as the executions removed more senior officers. Befiore the beginning of the Second World War he saw commmand service in the Black Sea and Far East where he gained an expertise in minelaying and minesweeping.
During the Second World War he distinguished himself in landings on the Kerch Peninsula. He also held temporary commmand of army troops in the Caucasus. By the end of the war he commanded a destroyer squadron in the Black Sea.
He had joined the Communist party in 1942 and this together with his experience saw him promoted to Rear Admiral. After the war he became the commander in chief of the Black Sea Fleet. He remained in this post until 1955 when Nikita Khrushchev named him first deputy commander in chief of the navy. In January 1956 he assumed the command of the Soviet Navy.
This was, however, a lean period for the Soviet Navy. Khrushchev placed the importance and expansion of nuclear missile forces above everything else in the military budget. Gorshkov saw spending on warships shrink by 60%.
By the early 1960s senior military commanders had forced a re-evaluation of this over-dependence. They demanded, and got, a more balanced Soviet military structure. Gorshkov favoured submarines, initially to operate against NATO ships but also as nuclear ballistic missile carriers. His vision was for a navy that could operate far from Russian territorial waters and challenge the West on the high seas – he wanted, and intended to acquire, a true ‘blue water’ navy.
Under Leonid Brezhnev in the 1970s he, himself, argued for a more balanced navy. The political leadership agreed and a massive building programme was put in place to provide not only a large submarine force but the logistical support fleet needed to sustain it. Gorshkov also saw the need for an expansion of the surface fleet to allow the extension of Soviet conventional power. He felt the Soviet Navy should be able to conduct strategic operations, anti-submarine warfare, transport amphibious troops and be supported by a growing number of aircraft and helicopters.
This new and much expanded navy was able to project Soviet power to the Third World and challenge NATO in areas where it had previously had free demain.
When he retired in 1985 he had, by and large, obtained the ships he needed and the navy he wanted – the Soviet Union was a major nautical power. He died in Moscow three years later.
The most difficult thing about planning against the Americans, is that they do not read their own doctrine, and they would feel no particular obligation to follow it if they did.
You Americans do not realize what formidable warships you have in these four battleships. We have concluded after careful analysis that these magnificent ships are in fact the most to be feared in your entire naval arsenal. When engaged in combat we could throw everything we have at those ships and all our firepower would bounce off or be of little effect. Then when we are exhausted, we will detect you coming over the horizon and then you will sink us.
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