The United States, Norway and the Soviet Naval Threat in Northern Europe, 1954–60

  • Mats R. Berdal
Part of the St Antony’s Series book series


Until 1955, Anglo-American maritime concerns about Soviet intentions in European waters outside the eastern Mediterranean focused predominantly on the Baltic Sea and the defence of its three natural exits — the Sound, the Great Belt and the Little Belt. At one level, this was hardly surprising. Operating out of bases in Liepaja, Kaliningrad, Baltiijsk, Tallinn, Riga, and Leningrad, the logistic facilities available to the Baltic Fleet (Baltijskij Flot) — including ship repair, dockyard and construction facilities — were clearly superior to those of the other Soviet fleets. Indeed, from 1954 to 1960, the Baltic fleet, measured in terms of the total number of ships and personnel strength, remained the largest of the four Soviet fleets.1 More important than logistic and gross numerical advantages, however, was the assumption — evident in early joint war plans, in the deliberations of the NAORPG and, later, in the NEC — that the Soviet Union attached the highest priority to securing the Baltic exits in the early stage of a war as part of their central front offensive across the German plain.2 The corol-lary of this was the belief that the threat to the Scandinavian peninsula came from the south. Until 1960 this remained a key planning assumption at SHAPE, one consequence of which was that the Supreme Allied Commanders in Europe, and especially their British and, later, West German subordinate commanders, continued to regard the Baltic as strat-egically the most important fleet area.3


Ballistic Missile Norwegian Coast Eastern Seaboard Naval Force Operational Deployment 
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Copyright information

© Mats R. Berdal 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mats R. Berdal
    • 1
  1. 1.International Institute for Strategic StudiesLondonUK

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