Red Flag Over the Seven Seas



A graduate of the Uniled States Naval Academy in 1924, who served for three years aboard battleships and destroyers in the Atlantic, HANSON W. BALDWINjoined the staff of the New York TIMES in 1929. lie has been its military and naval correspondent since 1937 and its military editor since 1942. Author of numerous books and magazine articles, lecturer at the National War College and other service schools, Mr. Baldwin has received many awards for distinguished reporting on military affairs.

WINSTON CHURCHILL once likened the conflict between Communist Russia and the West to a contest between heartland and rimlands, between an elephant and a whale, a land beast and a sea beast. Today, the elephant is also trying to become a whale. Communist Russia — its goal a Communist world — is trying to achieve, as a means to that end, dominion over blue water, a dominion complete in all elements of sea power. This is an objective that Czarist Russia never achieved, or even attempted.

In the long view of history Russia’s current drive for maritime dominance may well become the most important development of the latter half of the twentieth century. The ambitious maritime policy of the U.S.S.R. — greatest land mass in the world — is supported by four major programs, unmatched, so far, in the West in size or scope. In simple terms, Russia is attempting to do these things: acquire the largest merchant fleet in the world; operate the largest and most modern fishing fleet in the world; control or neutralize the narrow sea bottlenecks of global shipping (the Panama Canal, the Strait of Gibraltar, the Suez Canal, and the Strait of Malacca); strengthen materially the deep-sea elements of the Soviet Navy, already the world’s second largest fleet.

The U.S.S.R. plans to support its maritime expansion by an oceanographic research program of great scope and by the development of a system of global commercial airlines and long-range military aircraft capable of extended transoceanic flight. The possible implications in the light of past historical experience are ominous. The tremendous expansion of Germany’s maritime and naval fleets and their challenge to England in world trade formed a basic cause of World War I. Japan followed the same course prior to World War II.

Control of the seas is vital to NATO and to the system of Western alliances upon which the security of the United States has been built. Our past superiority at sea has been one of two great strategic factors; the other is our superiority (in good part based on the sea) in nuclear delivery capability, which has deterred war and to some extent has contained Communism. If to vast Russian land power is added major maritime power, the problem of deterrence becomes formidably difficult. If we lose control of the seas, it becomes impossible.

Since World War II, the Soviet merchant fleet, like the Soviet Navy, has advanced from the ruck to the van among the merchant fleets of the world. Today, none of the absolute statistics - total tonnage, total number of ships, and so on — are impressive, but the relative statistics and particularly the rate of expansion are astonishing. More than 1000 Soviet seagoing merchantmen, with a total gross tonnage of perhaps 5 million tons, plow the seas today. In terms of gross tonnage this is only slightly more than one fifth the paper size of the U.S. merchant Heet, tlie world’s leader, and Russia is ranked well down the list in size among the world’s maritime nations.

U.S. maritime supremacy, however, is more apparent than real. The 22,833,000 gross tons of shipping flying the U.S. flag are further augmented by United-States-owned ships flying flags of convenience — those of Liberia and Panama. But our huge amount of shipping includes all the obsolescent inactive vessels lying in the backwater of many ports; two thirds of the total are rusting and idle. As of 1960, the age of our ships averaged almost sixteen years, reflecting the World War II gigantic ship-construction program and the post-war slump in building.

More important, figures in the U.S. Statistical Abstract, Lloyd’s Register of Shipping, and other sources have indicated a steady decrease in the U.S. merchant fleet. Between 1954 and 1960 the United-States-owned merchant marine decreased at an average annual rate of about 310,000 tons; the Soviet fleet increased at an average annual rate of 450,000 tons. In the two years 1961 and 1962, Russia added a total of about a million tons; the United States lost half a million. With the maritime fleets of the Eastern European satellites added to its own, the U.S.S.R. can command a fleet of almost 1300 oceangoing vessels, totaling some 6 million gross tons. In 1962, throughout the world, 1901 oceangoing merchant vessels were launched, totaling 8,375,000 tons. The United States in that year launched 90 ships totaling 449,000 tons for its ownership. In the spring of 1963 there were 47 ships under construction for the U.S. merchant marine; 236 were under construction all over the world for Russia.

The Russian merchant fleet has doubled in size in the past thirteen years. Already the U.S.S.R. actually operates in oceanic trade more merchant vessels than we do. The startling objective of the Soviet maritime program is a seagoing merchant marine totaling somewhere between 20 million and 27 million tons of shipping in the 1975—1980 period, the largest maritime fleet in the world.


This objective is not just Communist pie in the sky. Russia’s own shipyards, shipyards of its Eastern European satellites, and the shipbuilding ways of Finland, Denmark, England, Japan are building or have built ships for Russian operation. One recent single order to Japan was valued at $100 million. The Soviet shipbuilding industry, once the most backward and obsolete segment of its economy, has had something of a rebirth. It cannot yet be compared in efficiency, or in techniques, with the better yards of the West, but it no longer requires nine to twelve years to build a ship in Russia, and the ships produced so far have apparently passed the test of the sea.

Russia has neither built nor ordered many prestige vessels. None of them are speed queens, like the liner United States, which holds the Atlantic blue ribbon. Most of the Russian ships appear to be 5000to 15,000-ton cargo carriers, small, useful, and economical; some have accommodations for passengers. Ships that I saw building in Polish Szczecin (formerly German Stettin) were perhaps more elegant and better built than those constructed in Russia; for, Poland, the leading satellite maritime power, along with East Germany and other Eastern European satellites, has been building ships for export to the free world as well as for the Communist bloc. Cargo ships with accommodations for a fairly large number of passengers, in the 5000to 18,000-gross-ton category, driven by Germanbuilt (East Germany) diesel engines (or by Polish copies of Swiss or German engines) at economical speeds, have proved attractive to a number of buyers, Brazil among them. The decor is quiet and attractive; these are comfortable ships built to serve and to last.

To an American used to the spaciousness of our shipbuilding yards and our heavy use of labor-saving machinery, the cramped yards and old ways of Poland seem inefficient. But they capitalize, as do the Russian yards, upon the most economical form of Communist power human — labor. The labor costs of the Communist yards can far undercut our own; this is one reason why Communist ships are proving increasingly attractive to new markets. Poland, next to Russia, is the leading Communist maritime power; the Polish fleet has increased from perhaps half a hundred ships after the war to almost two hundred today.

As in the days of the Czars, Leningrad is by far the largest and most productive of the Soviet yards. There are other important yards in Nikolaev and Kherson, and elsewhere in the Black Sea or its tributaries and in the Arcliangel-Murmansk area. A rapidly expanding complex is centered in the Soviet maritime provinces in the Far East.

It would be a mistake to underrate the capabilities of Russian marine engineers and naval architects. They still have much to learn from the West, but they are learning fast. Some of the newer Soviet-built ships are at least as modern in conception — if not as well built —as any in the West.

Russia constructed the world’s first nuclearpowered icebreaker, the Lenin, 25,000 tons, probably the most powerful ship of its kind, certainly one with the longest endurance. The Russians have also taken a leading role in the development of the hydrofoil, principally for river use. Rudolf Sobotka reports in World Petroleum that two 62,000-tondisplacement oil tankers, the Sofia and the Hanoi, the largest ships ever built in Russia, were launched from Leningrad yards in 1962 and 1963.

Russia’s newest ships incorporate many of the latest engineering features — high-pressure, hightemperature steam, economical fuel consumption, gas turbines, welded hulls. Communist experts study Western developments; two technical institutes foster maritime research; and current emphasis on shipboard automation, improved cargohandling machinery, and the newest propulsion systems indicates that future Soviet vessels may equal the best Western-built ships in operating efficiency.

Today, the United States has an undoubted technical lead in maritime developments. The Savannah is the only nuclear-powered merchantman in the world. Neither the Challenger-type cargo vessels — with their high speeds (twenty-five or more knots), their powerful cargo-handling booms and strong backs able to lift the heaviest tank or locomotive, and their small crews — nor the roll-on and roll-off vehicle ships of the Comet class specially developed for the Military Sea Transportation Service have any equals in Russia as far as is known.

But this technical lead does us small good. The American merchant marine is beset by troubles. The maiden voyage of the Savannah was delayed by ridiculous labor disputes. Management has too often been backward in fostering new design; American shipyards, except for a few of the most efficient, are outclassed in cost-effectiveness by foreign yards; obsolescent port facilities handicap cargo handling; and the implementation of U.S. maritime policy lends lip service, but not much else, to the ideal of a superior U.S. merchant marine. In costs we simply cannot compete.

The U.S.S.R., on the other hand, clearly sees its burgeoning merchant marine as an important means to an end. The economic effects already are becoming apparent. In an unusual and little-noticed staff study of the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security published in 1961, it was pointed out that the “Soviet oil offensive” was already having an economic and political effect on the world. An estimated 200 to 300 million barrels of Russian oil — a small amount, as oil exports are measured — were shipped overseas from the U.S.S.R. in 1961 and were sold at prices 10 to 20 percent below that of the world market. The effect was dramatic: the oil shipments dislodged Western suppliers from long-established markets; won economic footholds for the U.S.S.R. in neutral and new nations and aided Soviet political and ideological penetration; and bought raw materials or industrial and technological equipment required for Russia’s industrial-military expansion. Russia has programmed the export of something like 365 million barrels of oil in 1965, and as of May, 1963, seventy-six tankers, totaling almost two million deadweight tons, were under construction to Russian order throughout the world to carry this black gold.

Frank A. Nemec, executive vice president of Lykes Brothers Steamship Company and a member of a delegation that visited Russia to study its merchant marine, summarized the trend recently in a press conference conducted by the Committee of American Steamship Lines aboard the S.S. America. He pointed out that in the three years ending with 1961, Soviet trade with the non-Communist world rose “to almost 70 percent above the 1958 level,” and he listed some of the factors involved in the determination of the U.S.S.R. to expand its maritime establishment as follows:

The prestige value of Soviet flagships in the ports and on the sea-lanes of the world.
The leapfrogging of Soviet interests from contiguous land masses to areas which are reliant on sea transport: Cuba, Indonesia, Ceylon, United Arab Republic, India, and so forth.
The need to minimize their present extreme reliance on chartered free-world tonnage (as in the case of the wheat purchases, where foreign bottoms have carried much of the grain to Soviet ports).
The desire to conserve foreign exchange by shipping foreign trade in Soviet bottoms.

The expanded Soviet merchant marine obviously has naval auxiliary value, as any merchant marine does. In time of conflict its ships can carry troops, equipment, cargo. More important, it has military value in the cold war, as Soviet merchant vessels demonstrated during the Cuban crisis. The Russian missiles, troops, and equipment which threatened our cities were transported to Cuba by Soviet ships. The possession of a merchant marine with speed, capacity, and flexibility adequate to meet the fluctuating demands of cold war crises in many parts of the globe will give the masters of the Kremlin another string to their bow.

A large merchant marine also provides Russia with its own means of exporting foreign aid and political subversion. No longer must Russia’s agents and goods move by circuitous or surreptitious, or foreign-controlled, routes; the sea-lanes of the world are free, and Communism can use them, via its merchant marine, to gain footholds, with goods or weapons or words, in foreign lands. The pattern is already familiar in Cuba, Panama, much of Latin America and Africa, and in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and the islands of the Indian Ocean. How much easier it will be in future years for the masters of subversion in Moscow to implement with the aid of a powerful maritime arm the course of nibbling aggression.

Edwin M. Hood, president of the Shipbuilders Council of America, summed up the dimensions of the Soviet maritime challenge when he pointed out that Moscow’s current Seven-Year Plan contemplated doubling the 1960 Soviet merchant fleet by 1965, tripling it by 1970, and ultimately increasing its 1960 size by five to six times by 1980.

There can be only one major reason for such grandiose aims. Russia, already trading with some sixty foreign countries, is engaged in a race to capture the trade routes of the world.


From the Lofoten Islands to Ghana and the estuary of the River Plate, the Soviet fishing fleets are ranging the seas of the world. In the Pacific, the Communist vessels cruise from the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea southward to Antarctica. Every major fishing ground in the world has been saturated in the past decade by what a Senate Commerce Committee report published last January called “prowling and ravenous” Russian fleets. Already the most modern in the world, the Russian fishing fleet is expanding at a rate which will probably make it the largest in the world by 1965, according to the Senate committee report.

Experts differ — though not much — about the exact size and comparative standing of the Soviet fishing fleet today. But they all agree that since 1945, Soviet fishermen have turned from their own coastal waters to the open seas of the world, have enormously increased their catch, and have built or purchased a fleet of modern high-seas fishing vessels of all types that is second to none.

The Soviet fishing fleet is estimated in the Senate committee report to have grown from some 36,406 vessels of all types in 1940 to an estimated 75,000 in 1962. Most of these — or some 50,000 — are small, nonmotorized craft for coastal fishing. But there has been a tremendous increase in motorized vessels, particularly in long-range seagoing types. An additional 14,000 new fishing vessels are programmed - 750 of them what the Senate report calls “distant water, fish-freezing trawlers of over 1,300 horsepower each and 20-odd factory ships displacing about 18,000 tons each,”

The Russians appear to be spending about $320 million a year on their fishing industry. Trawlers and big factory and refrigerator ships have been built for Russia by Finland, Japan, Denmark, West Germany, and Sweden. In contrast, the U.S. capital investment in its fishing fleets is shrinking, and both U.S. vessels and U.S. methods are obsolescent. The United States dropped to fifth place in total catch in 1961.

The Russian fishermen use every type of gear from the most modern to the most ancient — bottom and mid-water trawls, drift nets, seines, and lines. They take every type of fish, particularly cod, haddock, herring, and ocean perch. Lately, some of their fishing craft have extended their interest to the menhaden and shrimp catch off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and in the Caribbean. The Russians are also developing a tuna and a sardine fishing industry. Anything edible, or usable in the form of fish oil or fertilizer, is included in their sea harvest.

Their newest ships are better equipped for finding and catching fish than those of any other fleet. Nearly all the new trawlers have at least navigational radar; some have extensive electronic equipment. Many trawlers or mother ships have sonar or sound-ranging equipment capable of detecting schools of fish, bathythermographs for recording ocean temperatures, and accurate sounding instruments. Some of the large ships even have helicopter landing pads.

Japan is building for Russia five tuna-factory ships of about 5000 gross tons each, with freezing and canning facilities. Denmark is constructing some smaller fish-freezer vessels with stern ramps for hauling in buoyed nets. In West Germany, eight floating fish factories, 17,000 deadweight tons each, have been built or are under construction. The $62,500,000 value of this one order approximates one half of the total budget for U.S. merchant-ship construction.

Russian shipyards have constructed or are building such vessels as the Andrei Zakharov, with hull sheathed against ice, a huge 12,000to 15,000-grosston floating cannery and mobile repair vessel. It can produce 1575 cases of canned fish every twenty-four hours and carries a machine shop to repair smaller fishing vessels. It has a crew of more than 100 men, in addition to more than 500 cannery workers who work three eight-hour shifts. The Sovetskaia Ukraina is one of a number of giant whalefactory ships, each of which mothers some seventeen smaller whale-killer boats, and can render and reduce whale carcasses at high speed (an estimated sixty to seventy daily). The Severodvinsk class (built in Poland), with displacement of more than 1 7,000 tons, can “service along her sides,” the Senate report states, “eight herring trawlers simultaneously.”

Most of the new Soviet trawlers are motor vessels — 500 to 3000 gross tons — equipped for stern fishing. A new class, the Tropik, a product of East German yards, is designed for fishing in warm climates. It is a kind of “universal fishing vessel . . . equipped to freeze fish and to produce fish meal and fish oil en route. . . .”

Under construction, or planned, in Russia is a fish-catching mother ship of 35,000 tons displacement, self-sustaining for six months at sea. It will have a fish-processing plant with a capacity of about 300 tons daily of frozen fish, fillets, salted fish, fish meal, and fat. Automation is stressed, and there will be a helicopter platform on the stern. It will carry on deck fifteen to twenty small fishing seiners of about fifty tons displacement each. An automated trawler, computer-controlled, which will search and find fish, net, clean, and freeze them with minimum human effort, is also being planned.

The Russians use any and all methods to take fish. In the Caspian Sea, kilka, a kind of anchovy, is lured at night, by powerful lights, to a suction hose, and schools of the little fish are pumped into special refrigerator vessels at the rate of about one ton per hour per vessel.

This fishing fleet obviously has much ancillary usefulness. It is keyed, like all Communist endeavors, to political-economic purposes. It is important as a source of food for Soviet Russia and for export to other countries. (In 1961, Russia imported only $8,400,000 worth of fish products and exported five times this amount, whereas the United States imported $397,000,000 worth of fish.

The Soviet fishing fleet provides another means of entry for Communism into nations of the world far from Soviet Russia’s land mass. It is significant, for instance, that one of the first agreements made between Moscow and Fidel Castro’s Communist Cuba concerned the fishing industries of both countries. With Soviet money, know-how, and aid, a base for the fishing fleets of both countries is beingestablished near Havana; about a dozen Soviet trawlers already are operating from Cuba. This has practical, as well as political, purposes; Soviet trawlers will be able to refuel and repair in Cuba, thus obviating the necessity of making the long trip home. Soviet fishing vessels have replenished their fuel at Veracruz. Soviet factory and fishing ships have already used African ports.

The military importance of this great fishing fleet is secondary to its economic and political value, but is, nevertheless, significant. Normally about 200 to 400 Soviet trawlers are concentrated in the North Atlantic fishing grounds — most of them in and around the Norwegian Sea. Scores of these vessels off the Grand Banks or George’s Bank serve, as the Japanese fishing fleets did prior to World War II. as a naval auxiliary, particularly valuable for intelligence purposes. When NATO fleets have held maneuvers in the Norwegian Sea it has been virtually impossible to avoid Soviet trawlers; they showed up wherever the fleet was. Our Polaris submarines patrol in this area; wellequipped trawlers could aid in tracking them.


Moscow’s strong and vigorous economic and military support of Cuba is keyed in considerable part to Khrushchev’s understanding of the strategic importance of a Communist Cuba in control of the Caribbean and of the Panama Canal. The recent troubles in Panama were not accidental, nor did they stem merely from the action of American schoolboys in raising — against their governor’s orders — the American flag in front of their high school in the Canal Zone. The riots were carefully prepared. The groundwork had long been laid; the rioters were stirred up by Communist and Castro money and Communist propaganda, and were led by a hard core of Communists and Castroites, who capitalized upon the inflammatory chauvinism of some Panamanians. Our troubles in Panama will never be resolved —short of our complete abandonment of the Canal, which is precisely what Khrushchev would like to force. For the Panama Canal under neutralist, or pro-Communist, or even weak, nonaligned control would represent a tremendous achievement in Russia’s objective of maritime supremacy.

The Strait of Gibraltar is, at the moment, less threatened by Communist machinations. The British still control the vital Gibraltar base, and Tangiers, across the Strait, no longer an international port, is not within the Communist orbit. Russia has been attempting to secure some kind of shipping or fishing base in Morocco, and Soviet military aid to Morocco and subtle Communist propaganda are the first elements of the Trojan Horse. Ben Bella’s leftist-inclined government in Algeria may provide a possible alternative to Soviet ambitions.

In Egypt, the Russians have succeeded — in part because of the mistakes of the West — in effectively neutralizing the Suez Canal and in establishing a strong Soviet presence. The Nasser government is indebted to Russia, and to a considerable extent dependent upon it, for economic aid (particularly for the giant project of the Aswan Dam) and for military assistance. In the Red Sea, a Communistbuilt port is being completed in Yemen. Further south, Somaliland is showing definite evidence of pro-Communist sympathies, and the island of Zanzibar is now governed by men who openly proclaim intense sympathy with Moscow.

The Strait of Malacca is still under effective Western control, largely because of the U.S. Seventh Fleet and the great British base at Singapore. But it is threatened. It is threatened in Malaya by the preponderant, and generally pro-Communist, Chinese minority (a majority in Singapore itself). It is threatened externally by the demagogue Sukarno, who has, in effect, declared war upon the new British Federation of Malaysia, and who has grandiloquently renamed the Indian Ocean the “Indonesian Ocean.” The Indonesian fleet, supplied to Sukarno by Moscow, is the most powerful indigenous navy in the area (one missile cruiser, two missile frigates, several destroyers, and a dozen submarines). The increasing threat to the Strait of Malacca and to the vast vacuum of power that extends from Southeast Asia westward to the Red Sea and the African continent is the background reason for the U.S. Navy’s desire to establish a fleet in the Indian Ocean.

Here, too, as in Panama, there will be no peace in our time, for the Communist drive for political hegemony is directed against a maritime focal point of high strategic importance.


The Soviet Navy, like the Soviet merchant marine and the Soviet fishing fleets, has been transformed from what was essentially a coastal defensive force into a blue-water offensive fleet. It is not yet, by any means, comparable in size, balance, or combat effectiveness with the United States fleet, and it will be far more difficult for Russia to match our great naval superiority than to achieve other elements of maritime supremacy. Nevertheless, today Russia has, in terms of tonnage, the world’s second largest navy, the world’s largest submarine fleet, and by far the world’s largest fleet of minesweepers, minelayers, patrol craft, motor torpedo boats, and small coastal boats.

The Russian fleet retains its traditional defensive character, with great numbers of short-range shallow-draft patrol vessels and coastal submarines designed for the landlocked seas and narrow waters (the Baltic, the Black Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk) that complicate Moscow’s naval problem. But it has achieved since World War II a deepwater offensive capability which it has not had since an ill-fated fleet of the Czar’s met crushing defeat at Tsushima.

The Soviet submarine service has improved tremendously in quality, both in the technical design and performance of its ships and in the competence of its personnel. It is still well behind our own submarine fleet in combat effectiveness, but its increasing quality as well as its numbers should not be discounted. Probably about a third, or less, of the Soviet submarines are deep-sea, long-range types; the rest are medium-range or coastal types, some of them obsolescent. In the past two years the U.S.S.R. appears to have ceased the construction of conventionally powered submarines and to have started a large construction program of nuclearpowered submarines.

The Soviet nuclear-powered submarine fleet numbers from twelve to fifteen vessels. Little is known about them; they have not been encountered on the high seas, and some reports indicate the Russians have run into trouble with their first nuclear-powered craft. However, these troubles will be overcome in time. Nuclear power means virtually unlimited cruising radius; it will enable Russia to compensate for its lack of overseas bases. For submarines, nuclear power also means protracted high underwater speeds and, with other developments, deeper submergence. The Soviet nuclear-submarine construction program is a tacit threat to the lifelines of NATO and our other alliances.

But there is a second threat, of even greater importance. Modern missile-firing submarines hold a nuclear sword of Damocles over the cities and heartland of every nation on earth, and they also threaten our surface fleet. Today, the dark depths of the sea are the most effective base for weapons of nuclear devastation.

The U.S.S.R. has more than fifty missile-firing submarines, a few of them nuclear-powered. These ships do not compare in combat characteristics or technological quality with our Polaris submarines, but they postulate, nevertheless, a threat to all U.S. seacoast areas. Most of the Soviet missile-firing submarines are conversions of older conventionally powered types; they are capable of launching — from the surface, not submerged — two or three short-range (250 to 550 miles), nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles. A new class of nuclear-powered, missile-firing submarine appears to have a dual capability; it can launch 200to 300-mile cruisetype missiles against surface ships or against land targets. Such a capability represents a threat to our aircraft carriers and surface naval and commercial shipping, as well as to our coasts, and enormously complicates the problems of antisubmarine protection.

Though submarines represent the principal offensive element of Russia’s oceanic naval strength, they are by no means the only element. Despite Premier Khrushchev’s jibes at naval surface ships, Soviet cruisers (there are more than twenty) have been modernized with surface-to-surface and antiaircraft missiles. Russia has a large fleet of destroyer types, some of them quite modern and fitted with missiles. And even such small craft as the Komartorpedo boats furnished to Cuba have offensive power (in the form of tento fifteen-mile surface-tosurface missiles) disproportionate to their size.

The Soviet fleet today is not capable — save in relatively close proximity to its own air bases— of denying the United States control of the seas. But it may be able to do so tomorrow, unless some answer to the submarine threat is found.


Until a year or so ago, the Soviet oceanographic program was unrivaled in scope and intensity. Today the United States has initiated a broad, soundly based oceanographic program, which in time may overcome the Soviet lead. A far greater knowledge of the ocean currents, the ocean bottom, oceanic weather, temperatures, salinity, and composition of the ocean, and marine life is essential to successful submarine and antisubmarine warfare, to navigation, to fishing, and in general to exploitation of the seven tenths of the earth’s surface that is water. Russia has utilized more than 100 oceanographic research ships in this type of charting and exploration; the United States has had only a handful.

The ViTiaz one of the well-known Soviet oceanographic vessels, recently carried out a survey of the Indian Ocean. A submarine, the Severianin, converted for underwater research, has viewing ports in the bow, high-powered lamps and searchlights as well as sonar devices, and instruments for sampling the sea and the ocean floor. There are said to be about thirty specialized vessels used solely in applied scientific work to expand Russia’s fishing industry. In ice-forecasting, Arctic Ocean research, and in research applicable to fishing, Russia probably leads the world.

Russian knowledge of the seas adjacent to its coasts is undoubtedly unrivaled; particularly important has been Moscow’s charting of the Northern Arctic Sea route, which provides during summer months a secure coastal passage from Archangel and Murmansk to the Pacific. The Soviet Pacific Fleet has been materially reinforced by this route in recent years, and former German and Axis passenger liners, seized after the war, have been used to transport settlers and supplies to the sparsely populated Siberian coastal regions.

1 he United States probably has a more detailed knowledge of the Central Arctic basin —owing to the exploits ol our nuclear submarines —than does Russia, and we have detailed charts of the ocean’s bottoms in areas in which we have particularly concentrated our efforts - for example, the Norwegian Sea. \\ ho is ahead in the basic scientific knowledge that in turn leads to commercial development and strategic advantage is anyone’s guess. Russia has been conducting an intensive program longer than we have, but we have made up for lost time.

I he development of Russian long-range air power also supports the Soviet drive for blue water, both economically and commercially as well as militarily. Russia does not yet match the extensive system oi commercial global air routes flown by the United States, France, or England, even though its airliners do fly to some sixteen or more foreign countries. Russia s turboprop and jet transports are capable of overflying any ocean and reaching any continent, though the nonstop Moscow-Havana or Murmansk-Havana flight stretches their capability almost to the limit and reduces payload to an uneconomic level.

I lie limitations on the extension of air routes overseas have been twofold. L’ntil six or seven years ago Russia had about all it could do to meet its domestic aviation needs; its vast heartland depended upon air transport to link many of its most remote points. That need has now largely been met. but Russia still suffers from the lack of overseas air bases, and from its reluctance to provide reciprocal air rights to countries to which it would like to extend its routes. Maintenance and mechanical difficulties and service that cannot compare with that provided by the best Western lines have been other stumbling blocks.

However, Russia is extending its commercial air routes to foreign lands; its basic air policy has been changing ever since 1954, and .Moscow has now arranged reciprocal air agreements with all the Communist bloc countries and with some Western nations. Some observers believe this development does not presage economic competition and does not represent a drive for the world’s air-carrying trade, but rather is motivated by considerations of national prestige and political penetration. Global airline routes will never play the important role in world trade that the plodding carriers of the merchant marine do, but planes complement ships and provide an ideal instrument for economic advantage, political penetration, and propaganda purposes.

The step-by-step development of long-range aircraft in Russia has been military and commercial; in fact, military versions have usually pioneered. Most important to Russia’s push toward blue water has been its development of an over-ocean military patrol capability. This was, only a few years ago, conspicuous by its absence; today, Moscow’s new capability has been dramatized by flights around and over parts of Alaska, and particularly by overflying U.S. aircraft carriers and other naval vessels on the high seas, hundreds of miles from the nearest Soviet base. Some of the planes used were Bear turboprop aircraft, the longest-range load carrier of the Soviet air fleet and a good plane for oceanic patrol. The Bear, though capable of twoway flight without refueling from Soviet bases to the United States, has air refueling equipment, and also can carry air-launched “stand-off” missiles against surface targets. It is thus an instrument of some importance against surface shipping, and when used in cooperation with submarines, it could provide the air element of the plane-submarine team, which is the major menace to surface shipping in any future war.

Soviet wings over the seas cast a shadow over tomorrow. The battle for the high seas — in trade, merchant shipping, fishing fleets, naval vessels, oceanographic and research ships, and long-range aircraft —■ is just beginning. Russia’s challenge already is formidable, and it will grow.