Soviet Sea Power

Hervé Coutau-Bégarie 


Remarks on bibliography


The following bibliography is confined to works de­voted exclusively or essentially to Soviet sea power. As for sea power as a whole, I would like to make reference to the selective bibliography published in Politique étrangère, n° 3, 1982, pp. 719-724.

Although confined to the Soviet navy, an exhaustive bibliography would be tremendous (several thousand titles) and would be of little interest to the French reader (almost all of these works are unavailable in French bookstores and libraries). One might get an idea of the vast volume of this literature by looking through Myron J. Smith, The Soviet Navy 1941­-1978. A guide to sources in English, The war‑peace bibliography series, ABC Clio Press, Santa Bar­bara, 1980; this very conscientious work is unfortunately confined only to Anglo‑Saxon writings. The bibliography prevented here is infinitely avers modest and is intended only to suggest some directions for further and more pro­found study.

As for the history of the Russian and Soviet navies, we have two books which do slot cover the subject thor­oughly: A.J. Woodward, The Russians at sea, Kimberly,, London, 1965, and Mairin Mitchell, A history of Russian and Soviet sea power, 6th ed., Mac Millan, London [illegi­ble]. The first edition of this last work was translated into French under the title Hiatoire maritime do la Russie, Les deux Rives, Paris, 1952. As for the Great Fatherland War, the basic reference is Friedrich Ruge, Soviets as naval op­ponents 1941‑1945, US Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, 1977.

On the nacre subject, Claude [illegible] published a series of very well documented articles in Revue maritime.

The first modern book an the Soviet navy is the book that appeared under the direction of M.G. Sanaders, The Soviet navy, Praeger, New York, [illegible]. At the time, the alarm bell, which it sounded, produced hardly any echo. The debate was opened 10 years later by Robert W. Herrick, Soviet naval strategy. Fifty years of theory and practice, US Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, 1968. But it is still worth reading 15 years later. The author announced a reedition with a new subtitles Sixty years of theory, doc­trine, policy and practice. Apparently it has not yet come out.

After 1970, there was a succession of monographs. Here we must mention the followings Ernest M. Eller, The Soviet sea challenge, Cowles, Chicago, 1971 (plea by a re­tired admiral for as American response to the rise of the Soviet threat); David Fairhall, Russia looks at sea, Andre Deutsch, London, 1971; Barry M. Blechman, The chang­ing Soviet navy, Brookings, Washington, 1973; Norman Polmar, Soviet naval power, Macdonald and Jane's, Lon­don, 1974; Edward Wegener, The Soviet naval offensive, US Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, 1975 (translated from German). All of these small books are hardly of any interest today.

More interesting is Siegfried Greyer, Guide to the Soviet navy, US Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, 1970, American translation of a German work published in 1964. Norman Polmar came out with an updated edition is 1977.

A decisive contribution was roads by Michael MacGrire. Almost all of the specialists on the Soviet navy participated in his seminar at the Maritime Warfare School is Halifax whose transactions were collected in three enor­mous volumes, very heterogeneous, but constituting a vast source of information: Michael Mac Gwire (ed), Soviet na­val development. Capability and context, Praeger, New York, 1973; Michael Mac Gwire, Ken Booth, John Mac Donnell (eds), Soviet naval policy. Objectives and con­straints, Praeger, New York, 1975; Michael Mac Gwire, John Mac Donnell (eds), Soviet naval influence. Domestic and foreign dimensions, Praeger, New York, 1977. An un­derscored by Ken Booth, everybody interested in the Soviet Union owes a debt of gratitude to Michael Mac Gwire and all of the analysts who followed him and based their work on his studies, sometimes only to refute them. His latest thinking will be found is “The rationale for the development of Soviet sea power”, US Naval Institute Proceedings, Naval Review, May 1980; and “Soviet naval doctrine and strategy”, Derek Leebasrt, Soviet military thinking, Allen and Un­win, London, 1981.

In the same vein, we must mention two indispensa­ble collective works: John Hardt (ed), Soviet oceans devel­opment, US Senate, US Government Printing Office, Washington, October 1976; and Paul J. Murphy, Naval power and Soviet policy, US Government Printing Office, Washington, 1977.

There are also many recent individual books. Eric Morris, The Russian navy. Myth and reality, Hanish Hamilton, London, 1977, is a popular work which does not teach us much. Kenneth R. Mac Gruther, The evolving Soviet navy, Naval War College Press, Newport, 1978, is a small but very interesting essay. Norman Polmas (ed), The mod­ern Soviet navy, Arms and Armour Press, London, 1979, is as abundantly illustrated introduction. Robert Bathurst, Understanding the Soviet navy, Naval War Collage Press, Newport, 1980, is an interesting book.

A special place must be assigned to Paul H. Nitze, Leonard Sullivan Jr. and the Atlantic Council Working Group on securing the seas, Securing the seas. Soviet naval challenge and the Western alliance options, Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1979. Just 4 years after its appearance, it still is the best analysis of Soviet-Westsrn naval rivalry.

On Soviet naval diplomacy, we have a remarkable works James M. Mac Connell and Bradford Dismukes (eds), Soviet naval diplomacy, Pergamon Press, New York, 1979, which covers the decade of 1967‑1976. It is completed by Stephen S. Kaplan, Diplomacy of power. Soviet armed forces as political instrument, Brokings, Washington, 1981. Neither of these two books is exclusive and we can find other manifestations of Soviet naval diplomacy mentioned here and there. We must also report the very interesting case studies is Soviet naval policy, as mentioned before.

The most recent works are: John E. Moore, Soviet warships, Mac Donald and Jane's, London, 1981, which replaces The Soviet Navy today, Mac Donald and Jane's, London, 1975, by the same author. This is a technically per­fect presentation of Soviet ships, each class getting a special notice. The introduction to this short but very rich book is worth reading. Norman Polmar, Soviet naval developments 1982, Arms and Armour Press, London, 1982, is the ver­sion, for public use, of a manual of the U.S. Navy, Under­standing the Soviet Naval Developments. This is a remark­able work, which is still up to date and very easily handled. Bruce W. Watson, Red navy at sea. Soviet naval operations 1956‑1980, West-view Press, Boulder, Colorado and Arms and Armour Press, London, 1982, gave us a presentation of all of the Soviet naval operations, which we were lacking (unfortunately with some gaps). We must also point out the November 1982 issue of U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, entirely devoted to the Soviet navy, and the third edition of Guide to the Soviet navy, rationed above, which should come out all the time.

From Germany we obtained a remarkable book by Ulrich Schulz‑Torge, Die Sowjetische Kriegsmarine / The Soviet Navy, Bernard and Graefe Verlag publisher / Mu­nich, Volumes I and II, 1976, Volume III, 1982. France is not entirely absent thanks to a book written is collaboration by a Frenchman and a German: Claude Huan and Jurgen Rohwer, La marine sovietique / The Soviet Navy...


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