Latvian Naval Forces
Latvijas Jūras spēki
Latvian Naval Forces emblem.svg
Coat of arms of the Latvian Naval Forces
Active10 August 1919 - 17 June 1940
1991 - present
Country Latvia
TypeNavy
RoleNaval warfare
Part ofLatvian National Armed Forces
HeadquartersLiepāja
Motto(s)Mūs vieno Latvijas svētais vārds!
(English: "Holy name of Latvia unites us!")
Engagements
Commanders
Current
commander
Captain Kaspars Zelčs[1]
Insignia
Naval Ensign
Naval Ensign of Latvia.svg
Naval Jack
Naval Jack of Latvia.svg

Latvian Naval Forces (Latvian: Latvijas Jūras spēki) is the naval warfare branch of the National Armed Forces. It is tasked with conducting military, search and rescue operations, mine and explosive sweeping on the Baltic Sea, as well as ecological monitoring activities. The Naval Forces have participated in international NATO/Partnership for Peace operations and various exercises with great success. The main development priorities of the Naval Forces are to expand their activities within the Baltic States’ Ship Squadron BALTRON and to develop a Sea Surveillance System. They pay a great deal of attention to professionally specialized training and English-language teaching.

History

Independence to World War II

The Latvian Naval Forces were founded on 10 August 1919 with its first ship being the former Imperial German minesweeper SMS M68. Previously, M68 had been sunk by a mine off Riga on October 29 1917. She was raised in 1918 and taken back to Riga for repairs, but was later seized by forces of the Latvian Socialist Soviet Republic in 1919, before being recaptured by Germany. Upon the conclusion of the Latvian War of Independence, and the victory of the Latvian Provisional Government, M68 was formally commissioned into the Latvian Naval Forces as Virsaitis. She would remain the Latvian Navy's only warship until 1926.

In 1926, two new Viesturs-class minesweepers, Viesturs and Imanta were ordered from France and commissioned later that year.[2] The same year, two Ronis-class submarines; Ronis and Spidola, also ordered from France, were commissioned.

The five ships consisted of the entirety of the Latvian Naval Forces during its first incarnation, as The Great Depression hindered further expansion. The Navy saw no action during its early existence.

In August 1940, the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Latvia, and thus, seized all five Latvian warships. All were reincorporated into the Baltic Fleet. Both submarines retained their names, but Virsatis was renamed T-297 (her name was restored the following year), Viesturs was renamed T-298, and Imanta was renamed T-299.

All five ships served in World War II in various roles. Ronis and Spidola were scuttled in Liepāja on June 24 1941 to prevent their capture by German forces. T-299 struck a mine and sank off Saaremaa on July 1 1941. Virsatis took part in the evacuation of the Soviet garrison on the Hanko Peninsula in late 1941. On December 2 1941, she struck a mine and sank off Hanko. T-298 was the only former Latvian warship to survive World War II and was later converted to a survey ship in 1948. Her final fate is unknown.[3]

Post-1991

When Latvia regained its independence in 1991, it began recreating the Latvian Naval Forces under the command of Admiral (then Captain) Gaidis Zeibots. In 1994 the Naval Forces were composed of the Southern Region (in Liepāja), the Central Region (in Riga), the Coastal Defense Battalion (in Ventspils) and the Training Center (in Liepāja). The most important naval event of these early days of the re-established Latvian Republic occurred on 11 April 1991 when the Latvian flag was hoisted on the re-established Navy's first ship "SAMS". This date is now recognized as the rebirth of the Latvian Naval Forces.

In 1999 the Baltic Naval Squadron (BALTRON) was created with ships from the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian Navies. Latvian Navy Captain Ilmars Lesinskis, then the Commander of the Southern District, was appointed to serve as the first commander of this multi-national force.

On 1 July 1999 Latvian Naval Forces were reorganized. The present structure was established on the basis of previous regional units – the War Ships Flotilla (HQ is in Liepāja), the Coast Guard Ships Flotilla in Riga (subunits are in Liepāja and Ventspils), the Coastal Defense Battalion in Ventspils (subunits are along the coast of the Baltic Sea and Riga Bay), the Training Center in Liepāja, the Logistic Base in Liepāja (subunits are in Riga and Ventspils).

On 1 July 2004 Latvian Naval Forces were reorganized again and since that time they consist of the Naval Forces Headquarters, Naval Forces Flotilla HQ with subunits and the Coast Guard Service. The new structure organizes personnel training and specialization better than before, as well as shares greater responsibility between commanders.

As part of the program to equip the Naval Forces with modern assets, the first of a new generation of nationally made patrol vessels, made with German assistance, was launched in 2011.

Mission

The Naval Force provides defense of the national territorial waters, carries out explosive ordnance disposal activities at sea and harbors, co-ordinates and carries out human search and rescue operations at sea within the national responsibility area. Warships of the Republic of Latvia have repeatedly made visits to foreign countries and have supported the visits of foreign warships and naval representatives in Latvia.

The warships of the Latvian Naval Forces Southern Region have participated in numerous international exercises (U.S. BALTOPS, COOPERATIVE JAGUAR, AMBER SEA, OPEN SPIRIT, etc.). These exercises have been conducted to NATO standards, which Latvian ships have successfully met.

The main tasks of Naval Forces are to:

Structure of the Naval Forces

Ships in the Naval Forces

Current

Name Picture Origin Class Type Built Entered service (LNF) Notes
Staff and support (Auxiliary)
A-53 Virsaitis
LVNS Virsaitis 5949.JPG
 Norway Vidar Minelayer 1978 2003 [4]
A-90 Varonis
Varonis.JPG
 Netherlands Buyskes Hydrographic survey vessel 1973 2004 [5]
Mine Warfare
M-04 Imanta
Naval visit, Belfast (3) - geograph.org.uk - 667223.jpg
 Netherlands Tripartite Minehunter 1984 2007 [6]
M-05 Viesturs
Latvian Independence Day military parade 489 (26169131074).jpg
1984 2007 [7]
M-06 Tālivaldis
Tālivaldis 5975.JPG
1984 2008 [8]
M-07 Visvaldis
Liepaja Kanal Handlowy 4 - cropped navy ships.jpg
1984 2008 [9]
M-08 Rūsiņš
M-08 RUSINS (29678397497).jpg
1984 2011 [10]
Patrol
P-05 Skrunda
Latvian Independence Day military parade 474 (26170894963).jpg
 Germany Skrunda Patrol boat 2011 2011 [11]
P-06 Cēsis 2011 2011 [12]
P-07 Viesīte
P-07 Viesite.png
 Latvia 2011 2012 [13]
P-08 Jelgava
SWATH in Riga (exterior).jpg
2013 2013 [14]
P-09 Rēzekne 2013 2014 [15]
Coast guard
KA-01 Kristaps
KBV class Latvian coastal patrol boat "Kristaps"
 Sweden KBV Coastal patrol boat 1964 1993 [16]
KA-06 Gaisma
KBV class Latvian coastal patrol boat "Gaisma"
1963 1994 [17]
KA-07 Ausma
KBV class Latvian coastal patrol boat "Ausma"
1963 1994 [18]
KA-08 Saule 1963 1994 [19]
KA-09 Klints 1963 1994 [20]
KA-14 Astra  Finland 1996 2001 [21]

Retired

Name Picture Origin Class Type Built Entered service (LNF) Left service (LNF) Notes
Staff and support (Auxiliary)
A-18 Pērkons  Poland Goliat Tugboat 1960 1993 2011 Sold to civilian buyers.
Mine Warfare
M-01 Viesturs
Latvian minesweeper Viesturs (M-01) underway in the Baltic Sea, in 2000.jpg
 GDR Kondor II Minesweeper 1971 1994 2008 Scrapped in 2016.
M-02 Imanta 1971 1994 2008 Scrapped in 2013.
M-03 Namejs
M-03 Namejs.png
 FRG Lindau Minehunter 1959 1999 2008 Received from Germany in 1999. Handed over to Liepāja Maritime College in 2008.[22]
k/k Viesturs  France Viesturs [pl] Mine trawler 1926 1926 1940 Built by A et C de la Loire in Nantes.
Seized by the Soviet Navy in 1940, scrapped after 1948[23]
k/k Imanta 1926 1926 1940 Built by A et C Augustin Normand in Le Havre.
Seized by the Soviet Navy in 1940, sunk 1 July 1941 west of Soela Strait[24][25]
Patrol
P-03 Linga
Linga P03a.jpg
 Norway Storm Patrol boat 1968 2012 Awaiting deconstruction in scrapyard.
P-04 Bulta 1967 2011 Scrapped in 2016
P-01 Zibens 1967 2013 Scrapped in 2016
P-02 Lode 1967 2013 Scrapped in 2018
Coast guard
KA-02 Spulga  Soviet Union Ribnadzor class Coastal patrol boat 1964 1992 2000 Crashed at Swedish coast, scrapped in 2005.
KA-03 Komēta 1964 1992 2007 Sold to independent researchers in 2011.
KA-04 Sams  Soviet Union Selga class Coastal patrol boat 1974 1992 1998 Scrapped in 2009.
Submarines
Ronis
Shadowgraph Ronis class submarine.svg
 France Ronis Coastal submarine 1926 1927 1940 Seized by the Soviet Navy in 1940, scuttled 24 June 1941 in Liepāja
Spīdola
1926 1927 1940 Seized by the Soviet Navy in 1940, scuttled 24 June 1941 in Liepāja
Guardship
k/k Virsaitis
Lettischer Minensucher Virsaitis.jpg
 German Empire M-class Minesweeper 1917 1921 1940 Former German ship M68.
Seized by the Soviet Navy in 1940, sunk 2 December 1941 near Hanko
Depot ship
k/k Varonis  German Empire Unknown Submarine tender 1908 1926 1940 Former German ship Passat. Reportedly, a former ice breaker.[26]
Seized by the Soviet Navy in 1940, sunk by a mine 28 August 1941

Ranks and insignia

Officers of the Latvian Navy[27][28]
NATO code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student officer
 Latvian Naval Forces[29]
Generic-Navy-11.svg
Generic-Navy-10.svg
Generic-Navy-9.svg
Generic-Navy-8.svg
Generic-Navy-7.svg
Generic-Navy-6.svg
Generic-Navy-4.svg
Generic-Navy-3.svg
Generic-Navy-2.svg
Viceadmirālis Kontradmirālis Flotiles admirālis Jūras kapteinis Komandkapteinis Komandleitnants Kapteiņleitnants Virsleitnants Leitnants
Non-Commissioned Officers of the Latvian Navy[27][28]
NATO code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
 Latvian Naval Forces[29]
Blank.svg
Blank.svg
Latvia-navy-1992 07.gif
Latvia-navy-1992 06.gif
Latvia-navy-1992 05.gif
Latvia-navy-1992 04.gif
Latvia-navy-1992 03.gif
No insignia
Vecākais virsniekvietnieks Virsniekvietnieks Vecākais bocmanis Bocmanis Seržants Kaprālis Dižmatrozis Matrozis

See also

References

  1. ^ "Jūras spēki". mil.lv (in Latvian).
  2. ^ "VIESTURS minesweepers (1926)".
  3. ^ "VIESTURS minesweepers (1926 / 1940)".
  4. ^ "A-53 "VIRSAITIS"".
  5. ^ "A-90 "Varonis"".
  6. ^ "M-04 "IMANTA"".
  7. ^ "M-05 "VIESTURS"".
  8. ^ "M-06 "Tālivaldis"".
  9. ^ "M-07 "Visvaldis"".
  10. ^ "M-08 "Rūsiņš"".
  11. ^ "P-05 "Skrunda"".
  12. ^ "P-06 "Cēsis"".
  13. ^ "P-07 "Viesīte"".
  14. ^ "P-08 "Jelgava"".
  15. ^ "P-09 "Rēzekne"".
  16. ^ "KA-01 "Kristaps"".
  17. ^ "KA-06 "Gaisma"".
  18. ^ "KA-07 "Ausma"".
  19. ^ "KA-08 "Saule"".
  20. ^ "KA-09 "Klints"".
  21. ^ "KA-14 "Astra"".
  22. ^ Jākobsone, Gunta (16 June 2008). "Karakuģi "Namejs" plānots izmantot topošo jūrnieku apmācībai". www.liepajniekiem.lv (in Latvian).
  23. ^ "Траверз – Viesturs type". fleetphoto.ru. Retrieved 15 April 2022.
  24. ^ "Поход к "Вирсайтису"". Балтийский курс | новости и аналитика. 1 October 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2022.
  25. ^ "Т-299 – Viesturs type". fleetphoto.ru. Retrieved 15 April 2022.
  26. ^ Alvama (13 July 2014). "WARSHIPSRESEARCH: Russian [submarine] depot ship Varonis (1908) around 1944". WARSHIPSRESEARCH. Retrieved 15 April 2022.
  27. ^ a b "Pakāpju iedalījums".
  28. ^ a b "Dienesta pakāpju un uzvārda atšķirības zīmes" (PDF) (in Latvian). 2019. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  29. ^ a b "Pakāpju iedalījums". mil.lv/lv (in Latvian). Latvian National Armed Forces. Retrieved 26 May 2021.