Why did naval forces play so little a part in the Eastern Front (Baltic and Black Sea specifically)?

In the Black Sea, Odessa and Sevastopol seem to have been resupplied regularly by the Soviet Navy while Axis navies seem to have conducted limited operations. Did Turkey play a role in cutting off the Black Sea from the Mediterranean? In the Baltic Sea, was the Soviet Navy simply confined to Leningrad due to German mines?


With regards to the Baltic Sea… The naval forces did play an important role but the rapid movement of the ground front affected the operations greatly. Also it should not be forgotten that the Gulf of Finland actually does tend to freeze over preventing naval operations for part of the year. That being said the Soviet navy was not just confined to Leningrad - the Soviet surface forces actively operated in 1941 (see Tallinn evacuation and Hanko evacuation f.ex.) and the Soviet submarines operated until the anti-submarine net was laid in the spring of 1943. Also the Soviet naval aviation operated actively (starting from 1943). That is of course in addition to all of the naval forces actively supporting operations in the ground front during the whole war.

1 Like

With regard to the Black Sea; the ability of Germany and Italy to transit warships to the Black Sea was severely limited by the Montreux Convention. The Romanian and Bulgarian navies lacked the strength to conduct major operations.
The Soviet Black Sea fleet played a significant role in the evacuation of Odessa and supporting the defence of Sevastopol including major amphibious landings on the Kerch peninsular.
After 1942 lack of maintenance resources and redirection of personnel to land operations made large fleet operations unviable.
So for the last 2.5 years of the war naval operations in the Black Sea were restricted to small actions.
Similarly the Soviet Baltic fleet in the late war period would have required significant resources to clear the minefields and ready the fleet to sortie. With the success of the land war diverting these resources did not make sense.
During the later stages, as the Soviets reoccupied the Baltic States, the German Navy provided naval gunfire support to land operations and supported evacuations. The evacuation conducted under Operation Hannibal moved more than three times as many people as Dunkirk.
Naval operations in both the Baltic and Black sea played significant parts, but these were wars of submarines, minelayers and torpedo boats rather than capital ships; so perhaps their significance is more obscured.