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Thursday, September 15th 2016, 1:43am

Unternehmen Wachsame Entschlossenheit

Artillery School Ship Brummer, Warnemünde, Saturday, 25 October 1947

The wardroom of the Brummer was filled with officers – most wearing the blue of the Kriegsmarine but with a fair number wearing the near-black deep-blue of the Russian Federation Navy. Captain First Rank Pavel Kozyukhin, the commander of the Thirteenth Destroyer Flotilla was one of the latter. He had brought his ships down the Baltic from Petrograd pursuant to the orders of Admiral Vladimir Tributs, commander of the Baltic Fleet, for an unusual experiment. The Thirteenth Destroyer Flotilla would participate in extended joint maneuvers with its German counterparts, a circumstance Kozyukhin found much to his liking. The Brummer and her commander, Fregattenkapitän Heinrich Wulle, were well known to him. The German vessel spent most of her time cruising the Baltic training officers and seamen for the rapidly expanding German fleet, and Kozyukhin had visited her twice before during port calls at Kronstadt. Circulating among those present he found that most were officers of new ships still engaged in operational training.

There was a stir as the cabin door opened to admit Wulle, who formally called the assembly to attention. “Gentlemen, permit me to present Konteradmiral Siegfried Engel, who will command the exercise.”

Kozyukhin recalled the name. Engel had served in the Great War, and had served a stint as naval attaché in Petrograd in the 1930s. He was reported to fluent in Russian; this pleased him.

“Gentlemen, if you would please take your seats, we shall begin.”

Engel wasted no time in getting down to business. An officer – Kozyukhin later found his name to be Glaser, Engel’s chief of staff – supervised the distribution of briefing papers outlining Unternehmen Wachsame Entschlossenheit – Operation Vigilant Resolve. Afforded a moment to scan the precis Kozyukhin found a well-planned series of exchanges and training scenarios that would, he believed, challenge his own crews and afford them the opportunity to learn from their German counterparts. This accorded with what he had been briefed upon before departing Kronstadt – and it explained the presence of the tender Feodosiya as well as the supernumerary officers sent aboard his own ships.

“As the first phase of the exercise,” Engel noted, “there will be an exchange of officers between Captain Kozyukhin’s vessels and those attached to the Lehr-Division. Bremse is due to arrive here tomorrow – and if Captain Kozyukhin is willing to begin at this time, I would wish to send the first exchange officers to his ships at that time, and receive aboard an equal number aboard Brummer and Bremse.”

Kozyukhin smiled, “Yes Admiral; that will be most acceptable.”


Monday, September 19th 2016, 9:33pm

Artillery School Ship Bremse, 54 dgs 38 min North, 14 dgs 9 min East, Thursday, 30 October 1947

Junior Lieutenant Gennady Alekseevich Alexandrov was one of six exchange officers assigned to the Bremse; only weeks before he had completed his training at the Petrograd Naval School and he had been thrilled to find himself assigned to the destroyer Skoryi – now he had been chosen to participate in a new and exciting venture aboard a vessel of the German Navy. The Bremse had been designed to give cadets and sailors actual experience in a modern warship, and Alexandrov had been assigned to the gunnery training division, wherein he would gain familiarity to the latest German naval weapons.

For the moment however it was a period of familiarization; while he had studied German in school he was still becoming familiar with the routine of the ship, which was of course quite different from what he had learned in his training. Thankfully several of the division officers spoke some Russian, and would explain something he had not understood – that is, they would explain once; thereafter, they expected him to learn and put into practice the lessons. He appreciated that he messed with the other cadets of his division rather than being segregated with the other exchange officers – from his fellows his colloquial German was improving rapidly. He had successfully resisted the temptation to tout all things Russian as superior – in some cases they seemed to be, but in others he could clearly see the well-thought-out layout of the Bremse’s diverse armament and the excellence of the design and workmanship of her ordnance.

The captain had announced that on the morrow they would reach their designated gunnery training range and that their training would begin in earnest. Alexandrov itched to have the opportunity to show that the Russian Federation Navy had no slackers.


Tuesday, September 27th 2016, 12:36am

Destroyer Pylkiy, 55 dgs 35 min North, 17 dgs 52 min East, Saturday, 1 November 1947

Captain First Rank Pavel Kozyukhin stood on the bridge of his flagship with his eyes trained on the German Navy’s Peter Strasser. The ships of the 13th Destroyer Flotilla, together with the German air defence destroyers Hamburg and Berlin, were screening the aircraft carrier as she conducted carrier qualification trials for her air group. Several Fieseler Fi220 bombers were in the circuit, each one making its approach in turn.

Thus far Exercise Vigilant Resolve had proven successful. Exchange officers had been posted to most of the vessels involved in the training programme, and the progress made on developing common operating procedures suggested that given time most of the differences between the two navies might be worked out – or so Kozyukhin thought at this point in time. Konteradmiral Engel seemed to be determined to make things work out, addressing the issues without partiality to his own service but hewing to the logic of the circumstances.

Suddenly Kozyukhin’s attention was caught by the movements of the latest aircraft coming into land on the Peter Strasser; the Pylkiy stood off the carrier’s port beam and he could clearly see the aircraft coming in too high and too fast. It caught the last of the arresting wires but with too much force – the aircraft bounced, lost speed, and cascaded over the bow of the Peter Strasser.

The destroyer Serioznyi, the designated plane guard, did not wait for orders but immediately closed on the position of the aircraft; for her part the Peter Strasser changed course to starboard in an attempt to give the Serioznyi sufficient sea room to do its duty. Kozyukhin made a mental note to compliment the destroyer’s captain for his instant initiative. An exchange of signals from the Peter Strasser confirmed the actions taken and some twenty minutes later the Serioznyi reported that she had recovered the pilot.

The loss of the aircraft was lamentable; Kozyukhin was later informed that in its landing the aircraft had torn the last arresting wire from its mountings, sending the cable whipping across the carrier’s deck, injuring eight of the deck crew, two seriously. He noted that such were the dangers of operating aircraft from a vessel at sea.


Thursday, September 29th 2016, 2:54pm

Marinestützpunkt Warnemünde, Thursday, 6 November 1947

One would not know it from the official chain of command but Konteradmiral Siegfried Engel was perhaps one of the most important officers in the entire Kriegsmarine. With the rapid expansion of the service there was a constant flow of new ships undergoing operational training in the Baltic, year-in and year-out; and while these ships were nominally under the control of the Lehr Division of Konteradmiral Johannes Bachmann the training programme of the individual ships was left to Engel. Where Bachmann had reached the probable limit of his rank before retirement, Engel had been marked for greater things.

“Herr Admiral,” said Kapitän zur See Maximilian Glaser, the chief of staff, as he entered Engel’s office. “I have the latest reports from the Peter Strasser. She will complete her work-up per schedule.” Glaser took a seat – he had a number of items to review.

“Has the board of review completed its examination of the failure of the arresting gear?” Engel asked; the mishap the previous Saturday had been worrying.

“Maintenance on the system had been exemplary, and all proper procedures were followed by the deck crew; the pilot’s speed and handling of the aircraft were found at fault.” Glaser always had the details at his fingertips.

Engel nodded. “And the Boggensee and Lautersee?” They were due to leave his control in less than a week.

“They have been working up well. I have the draft fitness reports of their commanders here,” Glaser added, passing a pair of portfolios across the desk.

“Good.” Engel changed the subject and asked, “And how are our officers taking to working with our Russian friends?”

“Remarkably well,” Glaser said. “Their officers know their business yet have demonstrated a willingness to listen and learn; a few of our own junior officers have tended to look down their noses but your orders on the subject were quite clear.”

“Yes,” Engel thought. “Germans who have never met a Russian have a stereotyped view of them – but officers of the Russian Navy are as cosmopolitan as anyone; if not more so. We can, and must, learn from one another if we are to be effective allies in any future conflict.”

“Are we ready to move to the next major exercise?” Engel asked aloud.

“Yes Herr Admiral,” Glaser agreed. “If you approve, I will have the orders sent to the 13th Destroyer Flotilla and to the Seeteufel, Hecht, and Maifisch.”


Wednesday, October 5th 2016, 10:38pm

Destroyer Pylkiy, 55 dgs 405 min North, 17 dgs 48 min East, Wednesday, 12 November 1947

The ships of the 13th Destroyer Flotilla were, for the moment, engaged in screening the German training aircraft carrier Moltke as part of a larger antisubmarine training exercise. Captain First Rank Kozyukhin had been apprised of the presence of Kriegsmarine submarines in the vicinity who mission would be to ‘attack’ the Moltke and her escorts. The number and details of the submarines participating had not been disclosed to him. Yet he was not unduly concerned.

For one thing, Kozyukhin knew that only three Kriegsmarine submarines were undergoing training in the Baltic, and the small coastal submarines regularly stationed there were of limited capability. More importantly, he was confident in the ability of his own ships to hold their own. The Pylkiy and the five Sokrushitelnyis that comprised the 13th Flotilla were some of the most capable ships in the VMF Rossii – eclipsed only by the Kharkov-class large antisubmarine ships; his ships were freshly overhauled and fitted with the latest detection and weapons systems, and his crews were well trained in both.

“Signal from the Smotriaschyi,” announced the talker. “Submarine contact bearing 315.”

On their present westward course the contact was to their north. Obviously the game was now afoot. “Order the Smotriaschyi and Serioznyi to locate and eliminate the threat.” Kozyukhin ordered. This was quickly relayed and the two destroyers changed course to converge on the location of the contact, their detecting apparatus lashing out to discover the whereabouts of their quarry.


Fregattenkapitän Albrecht Brandi stood behind the operator manning the passive sound location equipment; the submarine Maifisch was rigged for silent running, and she was relying on her sensors to give indications of the movements of her opponents.

“Targets turning to port Herr Kapitän,” the operator said in a low tone. Two distinct sets of propellers…” With a swift movement he adjusted the equipment. “Targets have gone active…” The small U-202 was performing her task sacrificial pawn as planned.

“Up periscope,” Brandi ordered as he crossed the conning tower and took the controls in his hands. As the periscope broke the surface he could see two Russian destroyers bearing down on the position where they had judged the U-202 to be. Quickly he relayed firing information to the torpedo control officer – with luck they might score ‘hits’ on both targets, severely weakening the Moltke’s escort. As the solutions emerged he ordered small changes to the Maifisch’s heading and then ordered his torpedo-men to fire.


Aboard the Smotriaschyi their active location equipment had a clear bearing on the contact ahead; an exchange of signals with the Serioznyi indicated that it too had contact. Firing data was sent to the Groza launchers and their depth bombs were arching into the air when the cry of “high speed screws approaching from port” echoed above the din.

Aboard the Pylkiy her own sensor operator announced “high-speed screws in the water!” Kozyukhin demanded the bearing and was appalled to find his two ships targeted. “Activate sound ranging equipment!” he ordered, determined to find the German submarine that had managed to ambush his command.


Unfazed by the amount of acoustic energy roiling the waters of the Baltic the torpedoes fired by the Maifisch ran true; the spread of inert T5 Zaunkönig ‘fish’ struck both targets and the exercise umpires aboard them ruled both damaged and dead in the water. For that matter, they also ruled the U-202 sunk. This was of little solace to Kozyukhin, whose Pylkiy now had a firm contact to pursue.

(to be continued)


Friday, October 7th 2016, 2:10am

Having loosed a salvo of practice torpedoes Fregattenkapitän Brandi ordered the Maifisch to dive and reversed his course, seeking to maximize the distance between his boat and the Russian destroyers. The insistent “Bah-wah” of the destroyer's echo-location equipment could be heard throughout the boat.

“Fire Pillenwerfer,” Brandi ordered. The weapons officer threw the launching stud of the decoy launcher, disgorging a canister of calcium hydride in the water. “Come to course one-zero-zero.” Brandi hoped that the decoy coupled with the radical course change might shake off the Russians.


Aboard the Pylkiy Captain Kozyukhin’s crew readied their Groza launchers as the firing solutions were fed to them. At his command the practice bombs were launched and arced towards the suspected location of the ‘enemy’ submarine.

“Captain, we have lost contact,” the tactical officer reported. “One moment he was there, and then he was gone.”

“Passive systems only!” Kozyukhin ordered. He suspected that his opponent had used a decoy noisemaker to cover a course change. The question now was whether his ship would be able to re-establish contact before the German boat either made its escape or chose to ‘fight’.


“Target has ceased active pinging,” whispered the sensor officer on the Maifisch. “Aspect change… target is changing course.”

“Put us on the bottom,” Brandi ordered. This portion of the Baltic was not too deep; an average of fifty metres. The Maifisch slowly descended and gently came to rest on the sediment of the sea floor. “Pass to all hands; silence on board.”


Kozyukhin held the Pylkiy is a slow turn to port – circling the last known location of the German submarine. The ears of the operator of the passive location system strained for the faintest of sounds without reward. Kozyukhin was certain that the German submarine had not been able to make its escape – even on batteries the cavitation of the screws of the Type XXI boat ought to have been detectable. It was possible that the submarine had hid beneath a thermocline – but this close to winter he considered that remote. “Signal the engine room, all stop,” he ordered.

Kozyukhin would play a game of Patience, seeing who might make the next move.

(to be continued)


Saturday, October 8th 2016, 1:32am

The air inside the submarine Maifisch began to grow stale – still Brandi kept her on the bottom of the Baltic to see whether the pursuing Russian destroyers had cleared the area. The sound location officer had noted that the heavy screws of the Moltke and long since faded from the area, and for the moment there was silence – save for the creaking of the pressure hull against the sea floor.

“Nothing Herr Kapitän,” the executive officer noted.

“I am not certain,” Brandi responded. “We will wait.”


Kozyukhin paced the bridge of the Pylkiy, wondering if he was remaining on a fool’s errand or whether the German submarine was right beneath the destroyer’s keel. His crew were at their stations, waiting. The ship drifted slightly in the swells. For the moment the horizon was clear – a fact confirmed by their electronic detection equipment.


Brandi checked his watch. “Make your depth thirty-five metres,” he ordered. “Speed six knots. Rig for silent running.” There was, however, no way to avoid making noise when the ballast tanks were emptied to raise the Maifisch.


“He’s blown his ballast tanks,” the sound location officer said in a quiet but urgent tone.

“Location?” Kozyukhin demanded.

“Off the starboard bow,” was the reply. “Insufficient data to estimate range and exact bearing.”

Kozyukhin ordered the engine room to make revolutions and bring the Pylkiy to speed. “Activate echo-location systems and get me a bearing.” Powerful sound waves passed through the water and echoed back off the submarine’s hull.

“Bearing zero-three-zero relative,” the sound location officer reported. “Range six hundred metres.”

Kozyukhin smiled and muttered something that sounded like ‘Gotcha!” Ordered were passed to the Groza crews and an initial salvo of bombs arched in the direction of the contact.


Aboard the Maifisch Brandi reacted the moment the first pings of the Russian’s search hit the submarine’s hull. “Flank speed,” he ordered, “Fire Pillenwerfer; launch Sieglinde”. More canisters of calcium hydride were dumped into the Baltic, creating a wall of bubbles in the Maifisch’s wake; and from her hull a mobile decoy was ejected, intended to mimic a moving submarine – providing a second target for their pursuers. “Hard to starboard” he ordered, hoping another course change behind the wall of decoys might buy him time.

The Russian’s first salvo of practice depth bombs went off audibly; they were quite close. Brandi looked at the umpire aboard his boat who merely raised an eyebrow in reply. They were not ‘dead’ yet.


The crew of the Pylkiy knew their business. As soon as the first salvo had cleared the Groza launchers they were readied for the next. With reports from his echo location equipment now dazzled by the submarine’s countermeasures he ordered the spread of bombs to be widened to a full 180 degree arc, hoping to catch the submarine before it could escape. Once more the launchers fired.


The two practice bomblets drifted down through the waters of the Baltic and went off nearly simultaneously close aboard the Maifisch. The umpire jotted in his notebook and said, “I am sorry Herr Kapitän – your boat has been disabled.”

Brandi shrugged. “Emergency ballast blow,” he ordered, bringing the Maifisch to the surface.


The lookouts on the Pylkiy were quick to spot the surfacing submarine and report it to the bridge. Kozyukhin was pleased that this portion of the exercise was over. He had some matters to talk over with Admiral Engel though.


Saturday, October 8th 2016, 2:06am



Thursday, October 13th 2016, 3:30pm

Marinestützpunkt Warnemünde, Sunday, 16 November 1947

Konteradmiral Siegfried Engel was reading a report at his desk when a knock at the door announced a visitor. “Come,” he replied. His assistant opened to admit Captain First Rank Kozyukhin – and Engel rose to greet him. Once preliminaries were complete both officers sat down to discuss business.

“I have read your after-action report on the recent exercise,” Engel said by way of opening. “You mince few words.” Engel looked down at the report and found the item he wanted, and quoted, “It would be expected that the 13th Flotilla would have been supported by land-based antisubmarine aircraft operating around the clock in the immediate vicinity of the flotilla and scouting its advance. The exercise placed too great an emphasis on a single platform rather than using a layered defence.” Kozyukhin nodded.

“Yes Admiral,” he said, “such is standard VMF Rossii doctrine for operating in these waters.”

“And what might be doctrine for operating in the North Atlantic, say, west of Iceland?” Engel countered.

Kozyukhin thought a moment. “In such a situation, it would be expected that the aircraft carrier Moltke would have operated antisubmarine aircraft to provide air support…”

“In the best of all worlds,” Engel said, “that would have been the case. But neither you nor I live in the best of all worlds – too often we must make do with the resources we have available, however limited and imperfect they may be. That is the situation here; few Marineflieger assets are deployed to the Baltic and most of those are not suited for carrier operation; none are assigned to my direct command. The reliance on your destroyers to screen their charge against attack was intended to mimic possible outcomes of submarine operations in distant waters where air support might be limited or non-existent.”

Kozyukhin understood the point, and was about to protest the unfairness of an unbalanced scenario, but checked himself. In war, ‘balance’ was an absent concept.

Engel continued. “Despite your unfamiliarity with the countermeasures employed by our submarines, you were able to overcome them and eliminate the submarine threat. The Groza launchers aboard your ships are very potent weapons.”

“Thank you Admiral; not only were the countermeasures a surprise to us, the use of acoustic torpedoes was also unexpected.”

“They are still untried,” Engel admitted, “and one of the objectives of this exercise was to ascertain if they are reliable enough for deployment throughout the fleet. That is still to be determined. However, if you wish, I can arrange for you and a delegation of your officers to visit the torpedo station at Kiel for a briefing on both torpedoes and countermeasures.”

At this Kozyukhin smiled. “That,” he beamed, “would be most appreciated Admiral.”


Tuesday, October 18th 2016, 10:40pm

Russian Torpedo-Cruiser Tender Feodosiya, Marinestützpunkt Warnemünde, Sunday, 23 November 1947

Captain First Rank Pavel Kozyukhin shared the Feodosiya’s senior officer wardroom with Captain First Rank Konstantin Khrenov, naval attaché at the Russian embassy in Berlin; they had both recently returned from a tour of inspection of the German torpedo development station at Kiel, and had chosen the ship’s wardroom as a place to compare notes in quiet privacy.

“German progress with the development of acoustic torpedoes is quite impressive,” Khrenov noted. “They seem relatively confident of being able to deploy them against both merchant vessels and their escorts.” Khrenov suddenly realised he could have chosen his words with better care; Kozyukhin’s face betrayed the lingering displeasure of his first counter with such weapons.

“This is true,” Kozyukhin admitted, “but the countermeasures that can be used against them are simple – noisemakers towed behind a vessel.” He nevertheless knew that while acoustic torpedoes could be countered, if one were surprised, they could be deadly. As a surface warfare officer he was more interested in the German development of decoys that could be deployed by submarines to shake off pursuit. Known as ‘Kobold’ or ‘Pillenwerfer’ the more simple of the two systems in use was a canister of calcium hydride whose contents, when mixed with sea water, created a mass of bubbles in the water, masking a submarine from echo location much like a smokescreen on the surface. A more complex system, dubbed ‘Sieglinde’ was a true decoy – capable of movement beneath the ocean surface on its own electric motors, and even capable of diving or ascending – a far more realistic mimicking of an escaping submarine. This system, Kozyukhin and Khrenov had discovered, was still in its experimental stages, though the Germans held out high hopes for it.

Khrenov also questioned his counterpart on the progress of the joint exercise and exchange programme. He had watched the development of the Kriegsmarine over the last several years with increasing interest; noted for their meticulous planning and attention to detail he had watched as a succession of German warships had slid into the waters of the Baltic and the North Sea – building in a few years a force of immense size. In the present year alone no fewer than thirty-eight new warships had joined their fleet – including no less than twenty-six major surface combatants and six fleet submarines. The German fleet was, by far, the most modern in Europe – with few of its warships more than ten years old – and those had been refitted to modern standards. Data on ships was easy to obtain – but Kozyukhin could tell him far more about the men who manned those ships, and that was a far more important aspect of sea power.


Tuesday, October 18th 2016, 11:47pm

“This is true,” Kozyukhin admitted, “but the countermeasures that can be used against them are simple – noisemakers towed behind a vessel.”

Fortunately for Captain Kozykhin, Proigryvatel' towed noisemakers were fitted to his ships during their recent refit. :)

Unfortunately for Captain Kozyukhin, his ships lack the 450mm torpedo tube launchers needed to fire the Russian antisubmarine acoustic torpedoes.


Wednesday, October 19th 2016, 12:03am

“This is true,” Kozyukhin admitted, “but the countermeasures that can be used against them are simple – noisemakers towed behind a vessel.”

Fortunately for Captain Kozykhin, Proigryvatel' towed noisemakers were fitted to his ships during their recent refit. :)

Unfortunately for Captain Kozyukhin, his ships lack the 450mm torpedo tube launchers needed to fire the Russian antisubmarine acoustic torpedoes.

And the trouble with a towed noisemaker is that you need to decide beforehand if it's needed. :P


Wednesday, October 19th 2016, 12:09am

Yup. Proigryvatel' doesn't work at high speeds, either, and you have to sacrifice some of the depth charges in order to have the weight for it.


Wednesday, October 19th 2016, 12:17am

Yup. Proigryvatel' doesn't work at high speeds, either, and you have to sacrifice some of the depth charges in order to have the weight for it.

Obviously, those pesky Latvians did not build in enough stretch in their designs. ;)


Wednesday, October 19th 2016, 12:42am


Fortunately for Captain Kozykhin, Proigryvatel' towed noisemakers were fitted to his ships during their recent refit. :)

Actually using the search, there is nothing I can find regarding the Proigryvatel outside this thread. No indication that it was fitted to any ship during constructions or refits.

Same goes for the Pillenwerfer. It is only mentioned in this thread. Looking for Kobold instead, the only Kobold I could find outside this thread is a brand of vacuum cleaners...

... no mention of these specialized stuff in any of the miscellaneous weights breakdowns.


Tuesday, November 1st 2016, 7:54pm

Deutsche Werke, Kiel, Sunday, 7 December 1947

Captain First Rank Pavel Kozyukhin stood amidst a small knot of Russian officers who had been invited to attend the launch ceremonies for the new German cruiser Leipzig. There was nothing terribly innovative about her launch – but Kozyukhin was impressed with the general activity in the giant yard complex. Nearby he could see one of the Kriegsmarine’s air defence cruisers being readied for its launch – his hosts indicated that it would be before the end of the month – and at the fitting out basin there were two recently-launched air defence frigates whose construction was being hurried along before the depths of winter set in. Of far greater interest were the preparations being made at the sites of the yards great graving dock and largest slipway – according to what he had been told, keels were to be laid there for yet two more aircraft carriers for the Kriegsmarine.

The Leipzig slipped into the water and the band played; Kozyukhin and his officers stood to attention as the notes of the Deutschlandlied floated over the assembly. Yet his thoughts were on the briefing he had received the day before. His ships would find themselves exercising with a new batch of German warships entering their training cycles – four of the new Torgau-class destroyers and another quartet of the Manching-class air defence frigates. There would be more billets available for exchange officers – he made a mental note to follow-up his request for their assignment.

The final “Hoch!” echoed across the yard and the dignitaries began to make their way to the reception hall where refreshments were to be had. Kozyukhin looked forward to a steaming cup of tea to thwart the effects of standing in the cold.


Thursday, November 17th 2016, 12:14am

Artillery School Ship Bremse, Rostock Harbour, 20 December 1947

For Junior Lieutenant Gennady Alekseevich Alexandrov his time thus far aboard the Bremse had been most rewarding. He had mastered most of the ship’s gunnery systems, though he still had difficulties with the coincidence rangefinders used by the main armament. His proficiency in German had increased significantly, and in his lighter moments entertained hopes of one day becoming a naval attaché in some exotic foreign capital. But for the moment he was concentrating on the playing cards in his hand.

Alexandrov had taught his mess-mates Vint, the Russian form of whist, and they had proven adept at it, much to his chagrin. While they may have played for pfenning stakes, a string of bad luck had cost him two Reichsmarks thus far, and with the month two-thirds gone, he was facing the Christmas holidays in much straitened circumstances. As his opponents took another trick he sighed with regret and looked at his partner.

“Another game?” he asked, hoping his luck would change.


Tuesday, November 29th 2016, 7:04pm

Destroyer Pylkiy, 54 dgs 43 min North, 15 dgs 51 min East, Tuesday, 30 December 1947

In former days, Captain First Rank Pavel Kozyukhin recalled, navigation at sea was forbidden between November and April; and as the wave-tossed destroyer rolled beneath his feet he could sympathise with the ancient mariners. Of course, in the modern world, such superstitions held no place. And though pitching, his ship and the others in company were all weathering the sea well enough.

A new batch of German ships had entered their training cycle, and today Kozyukhin found himself in a ‘simple’ cruise in company with the frigates Stockach, Gallingen, Chemnitz, and Mohlsdorf – well equipped air defence ships but rather lively. In winter seas and gathering gloom even regular station keeping required constant attention if collision, or other accident, was to be avoided. He was thankful for the many electronic aids that compensated for the poor visibility. If ice did not prevent it the Russo-German flotilla would make Memel before the next nightfall; there they would rendezvous with several other Kriegsmarine ships and continue training; Kozyukhin had also been advised that some additional supernumeraries would join him there for eventual assignment as exchange officers.


Wednesday, March 29th 2017, 2:07am

Deutsche Werke, Kiel, Thursday, 1 January 1948

Captain First Rank Konstantin Khrenov, naval attaché at the Russian embassy in Berlin, had the honour of representing the Russian Federation at the ceremonies that marked completion of the air defence cruiser Lissa – the latest of the anti-aircraft ships to be delivered to the German Navy. He had to admire the machine-like regularity with which vessels emerged from German shipyards; not that those in the Motherland were any less efficient. While the bunting celebrated the cruiser’s completion, he could hear in the distance the pneumatic hammers at work in the great graving dock where the aircraft carrier Spaun was being laid down; and he would later attend the formal keel-laying of the Spaun’s sister – Yorck. He took careful note of the other work going on in the shipyard – two aircraft carriers were nearing completion, together with several more cruisers.

His comrade, Captain First Rank Pavel Kozyukhin, would soon have opportunities to evaluate these new vessels up close and personal, as the 13th Destroyer Flotilla continued its role of cross-training. Khrenov was well aware of the store the High Command placed on the lessons learned (and taught) by Kozyukhin and his crews, and he had already made his recommendation that the programme ought to continue.


Thursday, April 13th 2017, 1:11am

Artillery School Ship Brummer, Warnemünde, Thursday, 15 January 1948

The winter whipped across the deck of the Brummer as the latest group of German sea cadets prepared to receive their formal promotions in preparation for departing the training ship. For Gennady Alekseevich Alexandrov, witnessing this, he was filled with a mixture of feelings. He had worked closely with some of these cadets, they had been his mess-mates – he would miss them. But he took pride in the fact that he and his fellow exchange officers would now be senior to the new cadets who would soon come aboard – and it was a change to not be on the bottom rung of a ladder. What filled him with concern though was the presence of Captain Kozyukhin among the assembled German officers.

Then, much to his surprise, he heard his own name announced. As he walked the deck to present himself before the Brummer’s captain, he noticed that Kozyukhin stood beside him.

Kozyukhin gave a thin smile. “Leytenant Alexandrov,” he said, “I regret that the time has come for you too to depart the Brummer.”

Alexandrov shook his head to clear it. “Leytenant,” he thought…

Kozyukhin reached over and detached the shoulder boards of a mladshy leytenant from his epaulettes and replaced them with those of a leytenant. “Gennady Alekseevich,” he continued, “you are coming back with me to the Pylkiy – we have much more work to do.”