"Submarine infantry", "deep special forces" and even "frog people" - all these nicknames were given to the unique special forces of the Soviet army. We are talking about combat submariners who, during the Great Patriotic War, carried out full-fledged reconnaissance and sabotage operations. They also fought with the same detachments of the enemy countries. Only today very few people know about these heroes, because the history of this unique special unit ended with the end of the war itself.
The history of this unique detachment of the submarine fleet of the Soviet Union began even before the outbreak of World War II, in 1938, when, for the first time in history, submarine reconnaissance saboteurs demonstrated their skills during the exercises conducted by the Pacific Fleet: they left the submarine, eliminated the anti-submarine obstacle and went ashore for reconnaissance and further sabotage. The successful result of these exercises led the command of the USSR Navy to the decision to create a special combat diving unit.
Directly the first domestic special subdivision of underwater reconnaissance was formed in Leningrad in 1941 and was under the auspices of the intelligence department of the Baltic Fleet. It consisted of 146 people who were divers who underwent special training at the Naval Medical Academy and the Expedition of Special Purpose Underwater Operations (EPRON), an institution engaged in various underwater operations. With the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War, underwater scouts were also mobilized under the name of the Special Purpose Company (abbr. RON), headed by scout diver Ivan Vasilyevich Prokhvatilov, nicknamed "Batya".
Despite the fact that the "Frog People" were engaged in military operations in the most difficult conditions, the mass production of the uniforms necessary for them was never established, so the swimmers actually had to independently manufacture equipment and weapons for themselves, which, in fact, was unique and analogous in world history has not. However, these difficulties did not prevent the reconnaissance divers from successfully completing the assigned tasks.
The special-purpose company carried out a number of important tasks: they carried out sabotage, collected intelligence in the enemy's rear, blew up enemy ships, and also eliminated bridges and strategically important coastal structures. In addition, they were involved in guiding, repairing and protecting the famous "Road of Life" of besieged Leningrad. So, it was the "deep special forces" that repelled the attack on the northern capital by the Italian scouts-submariners, and also destroyed the base of Italian-fascist boats located not far from Strelna.
During the entire time when the Great Patriotic War was going on, the RON fighters carried out many sabotage operations aimed at the defense of Leningrad. Among their successfully completed tasks were: the destruction of the base of the Finnish troops, the explosion of the fascist pier near Peterhof,however, one of the most famous is a series of dives deeper than 30 meters in order to retrieve an archive of classified documents from the German submarine U-250. It was then that the fighters of the "underwater infantry" found the legendary encryption machine "Enigma".
It would seem that with such an effective combat activity of the detachments of divers-saboteurs, honor and a great future awaited them. However, in life everything happened the other way around: as soon as the Second World War was over, they decided to close the RON division. The reconnaissance department of the Baltic Fleet, which oversaw the detachments, hoped to defend the unique special unit, but he failed, and in October 1945, the head of the Main Staff of the USSR Navy, Admiral I. S. Isakov issued an order to disband the unit. As a result, this led to the fact that the unique knowledge and skills possessed by the underwater saboteurs were lost.
Do you want to know what kind of weapon military divers carry out their tasks with? Then read: Automatic hybrids and needle cartridges: what combat swimmers are armed with