In April 1939 Admiral Nikolay Kuznetzov became Commissar of the Navy. He immediately began to reorganize a navy that had been badly damaged by the purges instigated by Joseph Stalin during the 1930s. Some ship building took place but in October 1940, the government decided to conserve steel for tanks and aircraft production.
When Adolf Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, the Red Navy had two battleships and two cruisers in the Baltic, as well as a battleship and five cruisers in the Black Sea. Both fleets were backed up with large numbers of submarines.
In the winter of 1941 the Baltic Fleet was used to provide part of the defensive artillery at Leningrad. A large percentage of the crews of these ships fought ashore as infantry.
The Red Navy Airforce suffered badly at the hands of the Luftwaffe during the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Most naval aviation was destroyed during the first weeks of the invasion and in 1942 the surviving aircraft were transferred to fight with the Red Army Airforce.
The Red Navy employed motor torpedo boats to combat enemy ships. Soviet submarines were also very active but losses were high with 107 being sunk during the Second World War.
The Soviet Union did not build any battleships between 1942 and 1945. However, they did build 29 submarines and 900 motor boats during this period. The Royal Navy and the US Navy also provided the Red Navy with a battleship, a cruiser and several smaller craft.