Sergey Gorshkov

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Sergey Gorshkov
Amm. Sergej Gorskov.jpg
Gorshkov between 1982 and 1985
Born(1910-02-26)26 February 1910
Kamianets-Podilskyi, Russian Empire (modern-day Ukraine)
Died13 May 1988(1988-05-13) (aged 78)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Allegiance Soviet Union
Service/branch Soviet Navy
Years of service1927–1985
RankAdmiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union
Commands held
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsHero of the Soviet Union (twice)

Sergey Georgyevich Gorshkov (Russian: Серге́й Георгиевич Горшков; 26 February 1910 – 13 May 1988) was an admiral of the fleet of the Soviet Union. Twice awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union, he oversaw the expansion of the Soviet Navy into a global force during the Cold War.

Early life and prewar service[edit]

Born in Kamianets-Podilskyi to a Russian family, Gorshkov grew up in Kolomna. After joining the Soviet Navy in 1927, he entered the M.V. Frunze Naval School in Leningrad during October of that year. Gorshkov began his service with the Black Sea Fleet (then known as the Black Sea Naval Forces) upon graduation in November 1931 as a watch officer aboard the destroyer Frunze. He quickly became its navigator a month later and in March 1932 transferred to the Pacific Fleet to serve in the same position aboard the minelayer Tomsk. Promoted to become flagship navigator of the minelaying and minesweeping brigade of the fleet in January 1934, Gorshkov was given command of the Uragan-class guard ship Buran in November of that year. He studied at courses for destroyer commanders between December 1936 and March 1937, becoming commander of the destroyer Razyashchy following completion. After becoming chief of staff of the Pacific Fleet Destroyer Brigade in October, Gorshkov was appointed its commander in May 1938. During this period he participated in the Battle of Lake Khasan before being transferred west to command the Black Sea Fleet Cruiser Brigade in June 1940.[1]

World War II[edit]

Gorshkov during World War II

From the first days after the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the brigade participated in the operations of the Black Sea Fleet. Gorshkov was promoted to counter admiral on 16 September. During the Siege of Odessa Gorshkov led a landing in the area of Grigorievka before taking command of the Azov Flotilla in October. In late December and early January 1942 he commanded the landings on the north coast of the Kerch Peninsula. During August Gorshkov commanded 150 warships of the flotilla in a breakout from the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea after the withdraw of Soviet troops to Novorossiysk. After the resulting disbandment of the flotilla, he became deputy commander of naval forces and a member of the military council of the Novorossiysk Defense District. Gorshkov temporarily commanded the troops of the 47th Army defending the region in November during the Battle of the Caucasus.[1]

After taking command of the reformed Azov Flotilla in February 1943, he led it during landings at Taganrog, Mariupol, and Osipenko, before supporting the troops of the North Caucasian Front in the capture of the Taman Peninsula. During the November 1943 Kerch–Eltigen Operation, Gorshkov personally supervised the preparations and the landing of troops for the main attack. For his leadership of amphibious operations, he was awarded the Order of Kutuzov, 1st class, while receiving the Order of Ushakov, 2nd class, for his command of the flotilla during the recapture of Crimea.[1]

After being made commander of the Danube Flotilla in April 1944, Gorshkov led it during the August Jassy–Kishinev Offensive, supporting the troops of the 3rd Ukrainian Front in the crossing of the Dniester and the entry into the Danube Delta. Between September and November the flotilla went on to support the troops of the 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts during the Belgrade and Budapest Offensives. In December Gorshkov, promoted to vice admiral on 25 September, was transferred to command the Black Sea Fleet squadron, ending the war in that position. He was mentioned seven times in the orders of Joseph Stalin in the latter's capacity of Supreme Commander of the Soviet Armed Forces.[1]

Cold War[edit]

Following the end of the war, Gorshkov continued to command the squadron until becoming Chief of Staff of the Black Sea Fleet in November 1948. He became the commander of the fleet in August 1951 and was promoted to admiral on 3 August 1953. Following his July 1955 appointment as First Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Navy, Nikita Khrushchev made him Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Navy in January 1956. As Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Navy, Gorshkov simultaneously served as a Deputy Minister of Defense of the Soviet Union, receiving the rank of admiral of the fleet on 24 April 1962. Under Leonid Brezhnev Gorshkov oversaw a massive naval build-up of surface and submarine forces, creating a force capable of challenging Western naval power by the late 1970s. This included the adoption of nuclear weapons, which were carried by ballistic missile submarines and aircraft, as well as the development of nuclear submarines and shipboard helicopters. In order to project Soviet military power, Gorshkov sent ships on lengthy cruises and formed operational squadrons in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, building a blue-water navy. He received the title Hero of the Soviet Union on 7 May 1965 and was promoted to admiral of the fleet of the Soviet Union – the highest Soviet naval rank – on 22 October 1967. [1]

Gorshkov meeting East German leader Erich Honecker, 1980

Gorshkov was again awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union on 21 December 1982. Transferred to the Group of Inspectors General of the Ministry of Defense in December 1985, a pre-retirement post for elderly senior officers, Gorshkov died in Moscow on 13 May 1988. He was buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery.[1]

Gorshkov is often associated with the phrase "'Better' is the enemy of 'Good Enough'" ("Лучшее - враг хорошего") which is reputed to have hung on the wall of his office as a motto. Similar sentiments have been attributed to Clausewitz and Voltaire. The motto appears in the Tom Clancy novel, The Hunt for Red October. The phrase is also attributed to Admiral Gorshkov in Norman Polmar's Guide to the Soviet Navy (1983, 3rd edition).[2] That is one year prior to Clancy's first published date for "Hunt" by the Naval Institute Press.

Awards, honours, and decorations[edit]

Soviet awards

Gorshkov received the following Soviet awards, honours, and decorations:[1]

Gorshkov has been commemorated by various monuments and namesakes:

Foreign awards



  1. ^ a b c d e f g Lurye 2001, pp. 59–60.
  2. ^ Polmar, N: Guide to the Soviet Navy, p. xii (upper left corner), 1983.


  • Lurye, Vyacheslav (2001). Адмиралы и генералы Военно-Морского флота СССР в период Великой Отечественной и советско-японской войн (1941—1945) [Admirals and Generals of the Soviet Navy during the Great Patriotic and Soviet-Japanese Wars (1941–1945)] (in Russian). St. Petersburg: Russo-Baltic Information Center BLITs. ISBN 5-86789-102-X.
  • Monakov, Mikhail (2008). Главком (Жизнь и деятельность Адмирала флота Советского Союза С. Г. Горшкова) [Glavkom: The Life and Work of Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union S.G. Gorshkov] (in Russian). Moscow: Kuchkovo Pole. ISBN 978-5-9950-0008-2.
  • Polmar, Norman; Brooks, Thomas; Fedoroff, George (2019). Admiral Gorshkov - The Man Who Challenged the U.S. Navy (in English). Annapolis, Maryland, USA: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-68247-330-6

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Nikolay Gerasimovich Kuznetsov
Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Navy
Succeeded by
Vladimir Nikolayevich Chernavin