Croatia has a naval tradition dating back to the 5th Century. The Croatian Navy, however, as an entity separate from the former Royal and Socialist governments of Yugoslavia, only came into being in 1991, proving its mettle during four years of war.
Most of the former Yugoslavia's naval bases and shipbuilding infrastructure were located in Croatia, making them a prime target for Serbian expansion. Serbian forces attempted to take several key ports, such as Split, Dubrovnik, and Sibenik. The Croatian Navy was used in conjunction with land forces to break Serbian blockades of these ports and to maintain the territorial integrity of Croatia. The navy was able to seize and keep many vessels, shipyards, and ammunition depots of the former Yugoslavia when it drove back Serbian assaults. This has strengthened the Croatian Navy all the more.
The Croatian Navy operates in close conjunction with the army and air force, and has conducted several joint exercises. Poseidon 94 tested air and surface attacks on surface targets, integrating aerial rockets firing from a MiG-21 with surface launched RBS-IS missiles to destroy their target. Poseidon 96 tested new integrated radar command-and-control systems, and Neptune 96 tested convoy defenses against air and surface attacks.
The Croatian Navy will remain small but well balanced, in position to control the sea frontier and interdict shipping in the littorals of the Adriatic Sea.
Dr. Freivogel has studied the Adriatic navies since 1979, and has been published throughout Europe.