|Founded||24 March 1568 (Sea Commission)|
1626 (Commission of Royal Ships)
1918 (Polish Navy)
|Size||12,600 military (2016)|
|Part of||Polish Armed Forces|
|Engagements||Standing NRF Maritime Group 1|
|Chief of the General Staff||gen. broni Rajmund Andrzejczak|
|General Commander||gen. broni Jarosław Mika|
|Inspector of the Navy||wadm. Jarosław Ziemiański|
The Polish Navy (Polish: Marynarka Wojenna, lit. 'War Navy'; often abbreviated to Marynarka) is a military branch of the Polish Armed Forces responsible for naval operations. The Polish Navy consists of 48 ships and about 12,000 commissioned and enlisted personnel. The traditional ship prefix in the Polish Navy is ORP (Okręt Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, "Warship of the Republic of Poland").
Main article: Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Navy
The Polish Navy has its roots in naval vessels that were largely employed on Poland's main rivers in defense of trade and commerce. During the Thirteen Years' War (1454–66), a small force of ships that primarily operated on rivers and lakes saw real open sea battles for the first time. At the Battle of Vistula Lagoon, a combined fleet of the Kingdom of Poland and the pro-Polish Prussian Confederation decisively defeated the navy of the Teutonic Knights, and secured permanent access to the Baltic Sea. In 1454, the maritime city of Gdańsk was re-incorporated to Poland after being previously occupied by the Teutonic Knights since 1308. The reintegration was confirmed in the Second Peace of Thorn (1466), and Poland acquired the means of maintaining a large fleet on the Baltic. In 1561, following a victory over a Russian fleet in the Baltic, the Polish Navy acquired a second key port at Riga, in modern-day Latvia.
At that time, as the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (Polish–Lithuanian union) became involved in conflicts in Livonia, Polish king Sigismund II Augustus organized a Sea Commission (Komisja Morska) which operated between 1568 and 1572, and supported the operations of Polish privateers, but that met with opposition of the Poland's primary port, Gdańsk (Danzig), which saw them as a threat to its trade operations (see Hanseatic League). This led to the development of a privateer port in Puck. Around the start of the 17th century, Poland became ruled by the House of Vasa, and was involved in a series of wars with Sweden (see also dominium maris baltici). The Polish kings of the period attempted to create a proper naval fleet, but their attempts met with repeated failures, due to lack of funds in the royal treasury (Polish nobility saw little need for the fleet and refused to raise taxes for its construction, and Gdańsk continued its opposition to the idea of a royal fleet). During the reign of Sigismund III of Poland, the most celebrated victory of the Commonwealth Navy took place at the Battle of Oliwa in 1627 against the Swedish Empire, during the Polish–Swedish War. The victory over the Swedish fleet secured for Poland permanent access to the Baltic, and laid the foundations for potential expeditions beyond Europe. The plans for the permanent naval fleet fell through shortly afterwards due to a badly executed alliance with the Habsburgs who in 1629 forcibly took over the fleet.
The Commission of Royal Ships (Komisja Okrętów Królewskich) was created in 1625. This commission, along with the ultimate allocation of funds by the Sejm in 1637, created a permanent Commonwealth Navy. Władysław IV Vasa, Sigismund's son and successor who took the throne in 1632, purchased 12 ships and built a dedicated port for the royal navy called Władysławowo. The fleet, however, was entirely destroyed in 1637 by Denmark-Norway, despite the Danish not issuing a formal declaration of war. Support for the idea of a Polish-Lithuanian navy was weak and it largely withered away by the 1640s; the remaining ships were sold in the years 1641–1643, which marked the end of the Commonwealth Navy. A small navy was also created by Augustus II the Strong in 1700 during the Great Northern War. The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, though the dominant force in Central and Eastern Europe during the 16th–18th centuries, never developed its navy to its full potential. The proportionally small Polish coastline and the limited access to the Atlantic never allowed for a massive buildup of naval forces to the level of maritime great powers such as the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of France. The Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century brought an end to the possibility of an independent Polish Navy.
Following World War I, the Second Polish Republic on 28 November 1918, by the order of Józef Piłsudski, commander of the Armed Forces of Poland, founded the modern Polish Navy. The small naval force was placed under the command of Captain Bogumił Nowotny as its first chief. The first ships, which included several torpedo boats, were acquired from the former Imperial German Navy. In the 1920s and 1930s the Polish Navy underwent a modernisation program under the leadership of Vice-Admiral Jerzy Świrski (Chief of Naval Staff) and Rear-Admiral Józef Unrug (CO of the Fleet).
A number of modern ships were built in France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Despite ambitious plans (including 2 cruisers and 12 destroyers), the budgetary limitations placed on the government by the Great Depression never allowed the navy to expand beyond a small Baltic force. The building of one submarine, ORP Orzeł, was partly funded by a public collection. One of the main goals of the Polish Navy was to protect the Polish coast against the Soviet Baltic Fleet, therefore it put emphasis on fast submarines, large and heavily armed destroyers and mine warfare. By September 1939 the Polish Navy consisted of 5 submarines, 4 destroyers, 1 big minelayer and various smaller support vessels and mine-warfare ships. This force was no match for the larger Kriegsmarine, and so a strategy of harassment and indirect engagement was implemented.
See also: Polish Navy order of battle in 1939
The outbreak of World War II caught the Polish Navy in a state of expansion. Lacking numerical superiority, Polish Naval commanders decided to withdraw main surface ships to Great Britain to join the Allied war effort and prevent them from being destroyed in a closed Baltic (the Peking Plan). On 30 August 1939, three destroyers, (ORP Błyskawica, ORP Grom, and ORP Burza) sailed to the British naval base at Leith in Scotland. They then operated in combination with Royal Navy vessels against Germany. Also two submarines managed to flee from the Baltic Sea through the Danish straits to Great Britain during the Polish September Campaign (one of them, ORP Orzeł, made a daring escape from internment in Tallinn, Estonia, and traveled without charts). Three submarines were interned in Sweden, while remaining surface vessels were sunk by German aircraft.
During the war the Polish Navy in exile was supplemented with leased British ships, including two cruisers (HMS Danae/ORP Conrad, and HMS Dragon/ORP Dragon), seven destroyers, three submarines, and a number of smaller fast-attack vessels. The Polish Navy fought alongside the Allied navies in Norway, the North Sea, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and aided in the escort of Atlantic and Arctic convoys, in which ORP Orkan was lost in 1943. Polish naval vessels played a part in the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck, and in the landings in Normandy during D-Day. During the course of the war, one cruiser, four destroyers, one minelayer, one torpedo boat, two submarines and some smaller vessels (gunboats, mine hunters etc.) were sunk; in total, twenty-six ships were lost, mostly in September 1939. In addition to participating in the sinking of Bismarck, the Polish Navy sank an enemy destroyer and six other surface ships, two submarines and a number of merchant vessels.
After World War II, on 7 July 1945, the new Soviet-imposed Communist government revived the Polish Navy with headquarters in Gdynia. During the Communist period, Poland's navy experienced a great buildup, including the development of a separate amphibious force of Polish Marines. The Navy also acquired a number of Soviet-made ships, including 2 destroyers, 2 missile destroyers, 13 submarines and 17 missile boats. Among them was a Kilo-class submarine, ORP Orzeł and a modified Kashin-class missile destroyer, (ORP Warszawa). Polish shipyards produced mostly landing craft, minesweepers and auxiliary vessels. The primary role of the Warsaw Pact Polish Navy was to be Baltic Sea control, as well as amphibious operations along the entire Baltic coastline against NATO forces in Denmark and West Germany. The collapse of the Soviet Union, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, and the fall of Communism ended this stance.
Poland's entrance into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has greatly changed the structure and role of the Polish Navy. Whereas before, most of Naval High Command was concerned with coastal defense and Baltic Sea Operations, the current mindset is for integration with international naval operations. To facilitate these changes the Republic of Poland undertook a number of modernization programs aimed at creating a force capable of power projection. This included the acquisition of two Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates from the United States. The Naval air arm has also acquired a number of SH-2G Super Seasprite helicopters. The Polish Navy continues to operate one Kilo-class attack submarine (ORP Orzeł).
The Polish Navy has taken part in numerous joint force operations. In 1999 the naval base at Gdynia became the home base of all NATO submarine forces in the Baltic, codenamed "Cooperative Poseidon". That same year joint American-Polish submarine training manoeuvres codenamed "Baltic Porpoise" for the first time utilized the port in a multinational military exercise.
As of the 2020s, the Polish Navy is modernizing its fleet. The work was initially planned as a 9 billion zloty project, but this was reduced in 2012 to 5 billion zloty, causing delays and cancellations in the succeeding years. The navy's 2017 strategy called for spending 13 billion zloty and acquiring 22 new warships, including those completed since 2013. In addition, although the force considers larger warships unsuitable for the confines of the Baltic Sea, the strategy called for extending the operational lifespan of one Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate.
12 new ships worth around 10 billion PLN were to be acquired before 2026. The plan was updated in 2017 for 2013–2022 period to be worth 13 billion zloty and called to acquire 22 new vessels. These included three coast-defense vessels, code name Miecznik, that would feature a displacement of 2600 tons; and three patrol/mine countermeasure vessels, code name Czapla with 1700 tons displacement. Other purchases include six tugboats, two tankers, two rescue ships, one ELINT, one logistical support ship and one Joint Support Ship. However some deliveries are expected up to 2026. On 2 July 2015, ORP Ślązak was christened during official launching ceremony, becoming the first new Polish-built Navy ship in 21 years. In 2022, UK shipbuilder Babcock announced that the Polish Navy had selected its Arrowhead 140 design for its Miecznik program, which will equip the navy with three new-build multi-mission frigates. The vessels are expected to be built locally in Poland.
In terms of armament, the Polish Navy has acquired 36 Swedish RBS15 Mk3. and 50 (50/74) Norwegian Naval Strike Missiles for vessels and coastal defence units. As of 2017[update], t is planned to reinforce the Navy's helicopter fleet with four to eight ASW/SAR units. The Gawron-class corvettes program was cancelled with the sole surviving unit to be built as a patrol vessel. In June 2013 the Coastal Missile Division (NDR) equipped initially with 12 Naval Strike Missiles and two TRS-15C radars achieved initial readiness.
The main mission of the Polish Navy is the defense of Poland's territorial waters, coastline and its interests abroad. Other missions include the support of NATO allied operations, and search and rescue operations throughout the Baltic Sea. In addition, the Polish Navy supplies nearly 40 ships as part of the NATO Rapid Reaction Force, designed to be a force projection and conflict response force around the world. The Polish Navy is organized into 2 separate Flotillas and a Naval Air Brigade. Until January 1, 2014 the service had a Chief of the Navy (a three-star Admirał floty) and a Naval Command. On that date the branch-specific Land Forces, Air Forces, Naval and Special Forces Commands were disestablished and combined into two new commands. The functions of the three-star Chief of the Navy were split between two two-star officers (vice-admirals in the Polish system of military ranks) - an Inspector of the Navy under the Armed Forces General Command, responsible for manpower, materiel and combat readiness and a Commander of the Seaborne Component Command, responsible for naval operations.
Main article: Polish Armed Forces rank insignia
|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|
| Polish Navy
|Marszałek Polski||Admirał||Admirał floty||Wiceadmirał||Kontradmirał||Komandor||Komandor porucznik||Komandor podporucznik||Kapitan marynarki||Porucznik marynarki||Podporucznik marynarki||Podchorąży|
|Abbreviation||marsz.||adm.||adm.fl.||wadm.||kadm.||kmdr||kmdr por.||kmdr ppor.||kpt.mar.||por.mar.||ppor.mar.|
| Polish Navy
|Starszy chorąży sztabowy marynarki||Starszy chorąży marynarki||Chorąży marynarki||Młodszy chorąży marynarki||Starszy bosman||Bosman||Bosmanmat||Starszy mat||Mat||Starszy marynarz||Marynarz|
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