AN INTERVIEW WITH ADMIRAL OF THE FLEET (RET.) G.M. YEGOROV, HERO OF THE SOVIET UNION, FORMER COMMANDER OF THE NORTHERN FLEET, THEN CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE NAVY
On the eve of the new 1997 year Rear Admiral (Ret.) A.P. Katyshev, Hero of the Soviet Union, First Deputy Chairman of the International "Peace to the Oceans" Committee, interviewed Admiral of the Fleet (Ret.) G.M. Yegorov, Hero of the Soviet Union, former commander of the Northern Fleet and later Chief of Staff of the Navy, who was kind enough to answer his questions.
Question: Georgi Mikhailovich, during your long service in the Navy you met on many occasions with the outstanding Soviet naval commanders of the period of the Great Patriotic War, such as Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union N.G. Kuznetsov, Admirals A.G. Golovko, V.F. Tributs, I.S. Yumashev and others.
Don't you think that in the course of preparation for and celebrations of the 300 hundredth anniversary of the Russian Navy most attention was given to the Russian naval commanders of the epoch of the sailing fleet and the role of Soviet naval commanders of the period of the Great Patriotic War was covered inadequately?
What can you say about this?
Answer: Yes, I fully subscribe to the view that during the celebrations of the 300 hundredth anniversary of the Russian Navy the fleet commanders of the period of the Great Patriotic War were not given due attention. I met on many occasions with the naval commanders you have mentioned. First of all, I would like to say a few words about N.G. Kuznetsov. He was one of the most courageous, well-informed and far-sighted military commanders of the Soviet period of our navy. Taking into account the experience of the Civil War in Spain, N.G. Kuznetsov even in peacetime paid great attention to raising the capability of the Navy. On his instructions, a system of military alert was developed and introduced (only in the Navy). It provided for various degrees of alert of naval vessels in peacetime. On the eve of the German attack against our country N.G. Kuznetsov, as the People's Commissar of the Navy, took into account the situation which had evolved by June 20, 1941, and on his own authority sent a telegram ordering the fleets to be put on the alert No.1, making it possible to beat off the raids of the German Air Force against our bases. As a result, the Navy did not suffer any losses during the early days of the war. He paid great attention to the defence of Odessa, Sabastopol, Leningrad, Hanko, Murmansk, Novorossiisk and many other seaside cities and ports of the country.
It is to his credit that between August 8 and September 4, 1941, the naval aviation made nine daring group raids on Berlin. It was very important for this country in the trying year 1941. Speaking about the role of Admiral A.G. Golovko, it should be noted that the Northern Fleet in cooperation with the front-line troops successfully defended the city of Murmansk, the main port of communications with the Allies. The enemy was unable to penetrate the frontier in the Kola Peninsula. The Northern Fleet played an important part in ensuring the safety of convoys on the route between the ports of Great Britain and our North and delivery of arms and equipment received from the USA under the land-lease program, in harrassing the enemy sea communications and in fighting the German surface vessels and submarines. The successful attack of the K-21 submarine commanded by I.A. Lunin against the German battleship Tirpiz can be cited as an example. The battleship was badly damaged and the attack against the convoy of the Allies was frustrated.
Question: Georgi Mikhailovich, I presume you know that the International "Peace to the Oceans" Committee made a request that the government institute the Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union N.G. Kuznetsov Order and the Admiral A.G. Golovko Medal to award the war veterans and seamen who had distinguished themselves during the defence of our naval bases and other seaside cities in the Great Patriotic War. Regrettably, our request has not been met with approval in the high echelons of power.
Don't you think, Georgi Mikhailovich, that the International "Peace to the Oceans" Committee should take up this question again with the government and the President of Russia and call on them to decide it in the affirmative?
Answer: Undoubtedly, the institution of the Kuznetsov Order and the Golovko Medal would only be fair with regard to many illustrious naval commanders and serve to raise the prestige and role of the Soviet Navy in the Great Patriotic War and post-war years. They were great patriots.
Question: Don't you think, Georgi Mikhailovich, that during the past few years our memorialists and mass media have given inadequate attention to coverage of the role of Soviet naval commanders in the post-war development of the Navy?
Could you cite a few names of persons who played a particularly important role in the post-war development of our Navy, the organization of combat service of our warships in the world ocean and in putting into service the new classes of warships and submarines?
Answer: First of all, I would like to mention Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union N.G. Kuznetsov, who was a firm proponent of building a modern and well-balanced navy and who was opposed to the country leaders' hasty decisions on scrapping many warships.
Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union S.G. Gorshkov was the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy for 30 years and did much to achieve parity in naval armaments with the world's leading naval powers. During this period our navy was equipped with nuclear missiles and the USSR has become s great sea power. Many other well known naval commanders have also made a great contribution to the development of the modern Soviet Navy in the post-war years.
Question: In 1997 the "Peace to the Oceans" Committee will celebrate its tenth anniversary. What would you wish the committee members this year?
Answer: I wish all the members of the International "Peace to the Oceans" Committee good health and the same enthusiasm, optimism and perseverance as they have had during the past ten years in their work to make the seas and oceans the lanes of peace and agreement, mutual help and understanding and a source of ecologically clean sea food.