Wrapping up his Cold War Series, Mark returns to his interview with Admiral Thomas Brooks about his co-written book, Admiral Gorshkov: The Man Who Challenged the U.S. Navy. They discuss the man who led the Soviet Union Navy for 30 years. He survived Stalin’s purges, fought the Nazis in World War II and engaged the American Navy in a tactical chess match until his retirement in 1985.
In our discussion, Admiral Brooks makes reference to the naval officer, strategist and teacher, “Mahan.” Alfred Thayer Mahan (right) was perhaps the most influential Naval theorist of the 19th and early 20th centuries. In his published lectures, The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660–1783, he argued for the paramount importance of sea power in national historical supremacy.
About Admiral Gorshkov: The Man Who Challenged the U.S. Navy
As noted about Admiral Gorshkov in a review by Hans Christian Bjerg for the Naval Historic Foundation, “Today, probably very few are familiar with the armament and the dominant role of the Navy of the Soviet Union during the Cold War over three decades away. In the period of 1970-90, the Soviet Navy was able to challenge the U.S. Navy on the World’s Oceans. In the beginning of the Cold War there was a common sentiment that the Soviet Union was a great land power with a huge army, but that the sea was almost exclusively ruled by the United States and its maritime allies. Yet, from the end of the 1960’s the Western naval analysts observed that the Soviet Navy was beginning to build ever-larger ships. The Western analysts also took note of the fact that Soviet warships began to operate in the Indian Ocean and, from 1986 on, entered formal collaboration with the Indian Navy. From 1968 to 1974 the number of so-called ship-days of Soviet warships increased yearly in the Indian Ocean from 1,200 to 10,500.
Nevertheless, it came as a shock for the Western powers when the Soviet Navy in 1970 produced a global naval exercise called OKEAN-70. The exercise took place on the most of the world’s oceans and consisted of 84 surface warships, more than 80 submarines (including 15 with nuclear propulsion), and 45 auxiliary ships. Several hundred land-based air craft participated as well. It is still the largest accumulation of warships in peace-time ever!
The man who stood behind the increased armament of the Soviet Navy and the exercise OKEAN-70 was Admiral Sergei G. Gorshkov (1910-1988). He was Commander in Chief of the Soviet Navy for nearly three decades, 1956-1985, and is an example of how a single character through will and ideas can turn the wheel of the history.”