Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Sergey Gorshkov easily ranks among the top ten naval leaders of the 20th century. In the Cold War days of the 1960s and 1970s, through his personal persuasiveness inside the Soviet Politburo, he built the Soviet Navy to a presence and operational capability nearly equal to that of the U.S. Navy.
Interestingly, Gorshkov fulfilled Josef Stalin’s ambition for a big-ship, blue-water navy. At great cost to the Soviet populace, by 1938–39, Stalin judged that he had the industrial base to build a big navy and become a world power, but he was interrupted by the Nazi invasion. Twenty years later, Gorshkov also wanted a big, balanced navy to serve the postwar Soviet Union, which had become a major power.
Editor’s Note: This article is drawn from a forthcoming book by Admiral Kurth on his experiences in Russia/USSR.