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Northern Convoys


"Northern Convoys" is the widely used name of one of the shortest and most dangerous routes of transportation of lend-lease cargoes to the USSR by its allies in the anti-Hitler coalition from 1941 to 1945. Running from Scottish and Icelandic ports to Murmansk and Arkhangelsk, they extended for 2,000 miles (3,219 kilometers) and took ten to twelve days to cross. Until the end of 1942, Northern Convoys that went to the USSR had "PO" index; those returning from the USSR, "OP"; the subsequent Northern Convoys carried indices "JW" and "RA." The defense of cargo transports was carried out by the Allied, mainly British, Navy. In 1941 the route was passed by seven convoys to the USSR (from trial "P" or "Derwish" in August 1941 up to PO-6), and four convoys to Great Britain.

During the spring of 1942, in order to cut the Allies' northern sea route, the Nazi German headquarters sent large fleets and aircraft forces to occupied Norway. As a result, in July 1942, almost the entire convoy PO-17 was defeated (twenty-three of thirty-six transports were sunk). Thirteen of forty cargo ships were lost in September 1942 in PO-18. In total, from 1941 to 1945, forty-one Northern Convoys, which consisted of 839 transports, were sent to the northern Soviet ports, of which 741 arrived safely. Sixty-one were lost, and thirty-seven returned to their own ports. Thirty-six Northern Convoys of 738 transports were sent from Soviet ports; of these, 699 reached their ports of destination, thirty were lost, and eight turned back. In addition, thirteen transports were lost during single passages and on berths in ports. While covering Northern Convoy 22, Allied fighting ships, including two cruisers and seven destroyers, were sunk.

In total, four million tons of cargo were delivered to the Soviet northern ports of the USSR, including 4,909 aircraft, 7,764 tanks, and 1,357 guns. Northern Convoys have added one more heroic page to a history of World War II and fighting cooperation of the USSR with the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition.

See also: northern fleet; world war ii


Ruegg, Bob, and Hague, Arnold. (1992). Convoys to Russia: Allied Convoys and Naval Surface Operations in Arctic Waters, 19411945. Kendal, UK: World Ship Society.

Woodman, R. (1994). The Arctic Convoys, 19411945. London: John Murray.

Mikhail Suprun

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