Baltic Approaches D+14 (23 July, 1987) Part I


The naval battles in the Baltic Sea on D+13 had proved to be decisive and pyrrhic for both sides. NAVBALTAP’s (Allied Naval Forces Baltic Approaches) surface and submarine forces sustained heavy losses, which were not entirely unexpected. Yet the fast attack craft squadrons, and diesel submarines of the Danish and West German navies largely succeeded in defending the Danish approaches and coast from a major Warsaw Pact amphibious landing. The Soviet and other WP navies on the other hand, lost an unbearably high number of warships, submarines, amphibious assault vessels and sailors for little gain. The naval balance in the Baltic was now swinging assuredly in NATO’s favor. Bornholm, occupied by Soviet airborne troops, was on the verge of becoming dangerously vulnerable. Surviving Polish warships were now steaming east towards Poland, ordered home by the Polish government. The commander of the Soviet Baltic Fleet Admiral Vitaliy Ivanov was trying to gain information about the Polish situation but few answers were yet available from his superiors or from other sources either official or otherwise.

On the Jutland peninsula the situation is chaotic and confused. Both sides, in planning the next phase of their respective operations, were making decisions based on incomplete pictures  of the battlefield. A ceasefire remained in place between Danish and Polish ground forces and showed indications of expanding. As it now stood, all NATO forces were under orders not to fire on Polish forces in Denmark or the Baltic Sea unless fired on first. The reasons for the revised rules of engagement were not made entirely clear to commanders on the ground or at sea, but the speculation beginning to make the rounds now was colorful to say the least.

Western TVD has advised the commander of Northern Group of Forces to stand by for new orders at 0500. Colonel General Ivan Korbutov was not certain what to make of the order. Would he be directed to continue the advance north, or challenge the Poles? Or perhaps both? Soviet paratroopers were on the ground awaiting rescue, but if the Polish divisions in Denmark had turned, as seemed to be the case, it opened up NGF’s left flank. Korbutov could not ignore a gaping vulnerability like that, yet if his superiors ordered him to disregard the Poles and continue north, he would obey without question.

The NATO situation is every bit as complicated. Skrydstrup needed to be recaptured before the Soviet tanks and motor rifle troops linked up with the airborne forces there. The preeminent concern for LANDJUT was that NATO ground forces were spread thin. Very few units were available for operations against the airbase. All available reinforcements from the LANDJUT reserve were to be used to stop the Soviet armor and motorized columns moving up the peninsula. That left mostly Danish Home Guard formations for use against Skrydstrup, and their usefulness was limited at best.

On Zealand an air of uncertainty dominates the early morning hours. The situation doesn’t favor either side. Although East German troops have established a beachhead on Mon and are threatening to breakout, there is no guarantee that reinforcements will arrive. The defenders on Mon are struggling to keep the specially-trained GDR troops contained, however they too are dealing with reinforcement issues. A major Soviet amphibious landing is still considered to be possible somewhere along the coast. Until there are clear guarantees that the beaches of Zealand are safe, no units can be spared from LANDZEALAND to reinforce the containment mission on Mon.

12 Replies to “Baltic Approaches D+14 (23 July, 1987) Part I”

  1. Oh boy – here we go 🙂

    That polish situation must really be the number one problem for the Western TVD. And there seems to be no good way to solve it.

    The East Germans on Møn, they are still just the original one bataljon of Naval Infantry? They must be a bit depletede by now…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. They have closer to a regiment, more or less. If anything, they’re in the best position of any Warsaw Pact forces in theater.

      Nope, the Polish uncertainty is driving events now

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hard choices all over the place.

    For the Soviets- I actually hate it for the Russian Commander. Do your Job and possibly get cold cocked from your left where the Poles *used* to be or go slam the Poles and let NATO reinforce and counter assault? And what about the VDV? Should the attempt be made to link up and possibly be able to present a theoretical strong FEBA or can they hang long enough for you to kick the Poles?

    Just ouch… especially when you have ZERO idea what reinforcements are available or if there will even be another amphib landing to help.

    for NATO…. its no less a mess. Not enough ass to hold a line against the Ost German forces threatening break out…. but enough to make them bleed a lot if they do. Not quite enough to go after the airbase but enough to hold a line for a time.
    Barely enough to really hold a solid line against the Russian thrust on a good day (sans some luck) if the poles were helping the Russians. With them on the apparent sidelines, its a small relief but forces eyeballing them can’t be spared in case its a ruse so its kinda a status quo there. A bit precarious of one until Polish Intentions are truly known…. but about as stable as its gonna be *right now*.

    That Base has got to be taken but unless some elements are all of a sudden shat out of somewhere, doing so is going to be a major gamble *at best*.

    Now, if the Poles change sides and offer to go after their former masters from that left of the Russian thrust, then the paradigm has well and truly changed…. and well, the possibilities are obnoxiously massive- and some of the outcomes rather insane.

    One thing is for sure- the chaos of the situation at the 0500 mark is a bit boggling to the mind. Whoever handles it first and best is gonna have the advantage.

    Not sure I have enough popcorn….

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Right. This post- 0000 to 0400- is best described as a primer. There was so much going on in the Baltic on D+13 I wanted to just remind everyone what was happening where.
      Like I’ve said earlier, the Polish situation is driving events in the Baltic now.

      Liked by 4 people

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