|Arctic naval operations of World War II|
|Part of the World War II|European Theater and Battle of the Atlantic of World War II|
Map of the area of greatest naval activity.
| Germany |
Finland (until 1944)
| United Kingdom |
|Commanders and leaders|
| Hermann Göring |
| Dudley Pound |
Arctic naval operations of World War II were the World War II naval operations that took place in the Arctic Ocean, and can be considered part of the Battle of the Atlantic and/or of the European Theatre of World War II.  [note 1]
Pre-war navigation in the region focused on fishing and the international ore-trade from Narvik and Petsamo. Soviet settlements along the coast and rivers of the Barents Sea and Kara Sea relied upon summer coastal shipping for supplies from railheads at Arkhangelsk and Murmansk. The Soviet Union extended the Northern Sea Route past the Taymyr Peninsula to the Bering Strait in 1935.  The Winter War of 1939-1940 between Finland and the Soviet Union opened  the northern flank of the Eastern Front of World War II. The Arctic [note 2] was initially dominated by the Soviet Northern Fleet of a few destroyers, with larger numbers of submarines, minesweepers, and torpedo cutters supported by icebreakers. The success of the 1940 German invasion of Norway provided the Kriegsmarine with naval bases from which capital ships might challenge units of the British Royal Navy Home Fleet. Luftwaffe anti-shipping aircraft of Kampfgeschwader 26 (KG 26) and Kampfgeschwader 30 (KG 30) operated intermittently from Norwegian airfields, while Küstenfliegergruppen aircraft including Heinkel He 115s and Blohm & Voss BV 138s undertook routine reconnaissance.  Following the 1941 Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, the Allies initiated a series of Arctic convoys to bring military supplies to the Soviet Union in formations of freighters screened by destroyers, corvettes and minesweepers. Escorting cruisers typically maneuvered outside the formations, while a larger covering force including battleships and aircraft carriers often steamed nearby to engage Kriegsmarine capital ships or to raid the German naval bases in Norway.
The Soviet Union and Germany each deployed smaller coastal convoys: to maintain the flow of supplies to the Soviet Arctic coast, to transport strategic metal ores from Scandinavia to Germany, and to sustain troops on the northern flank of the Eastern Front. Soviet convoys hugged the coast to avoid ice, while German convoys used fjords to evade Royal Navy patrols. Both sides engaged in minelaying and minesweeping of these shallow, confined routes - vulnerable to mine warfare and to submarine ambushes. Minesweepers and submarine chasers typically screened German convoys, while Soviet convoys were often protected by minesweeping trawlers and torpedo cutters. 
A branch of the Pacific Route began carrying Lend-Lease goods through the Bering Strait to the Soviet Arctic coast in June 1942. The number of westbound cargo-ship voyages along this route was 23 in 1942, 32 in 1943, 34 in 1944 and 31 after Germany surrendered in May 1945. Westbound tonnage through the Bering Strait totaled approximately 10% of North American wartime goods sent to Soviet Arctic ports.  A large portion of tonnage though the Bering Strait was fuel for Siberian airfields on the Alaska-Siberia air route. 
USS Fairfax (DD-93) was a Wickes-class destroyer in the United States Navy during World War I, later transferred for World War II service first to the Royal Navy as HMS Richmond (G88), a Town-class destroyer, and then to the Soviet Navy as Zhivuchy.
The Arctic convoys of World War II were oceangoing convoys which sailed from the United Kingdom, Iceland, and North America to northern ports in the Soviet Union – primarily Arkhangelsk (Archangel) and Murmansk in Russia. There were 78 convoys between August 1941 and May 1945, sailing via several seas of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, with two gaps with no sailings between July and September 1942, and March and November 1943.
Operation Sportpalast, also known as Operation Nordmeer, was a German naval raid between 6 and 13 March 1942 against two of the Allied Arctic convoys of World War II as they passed through the Norwegian Sea. It was conducted by the battleship Tirpitz, three destroyers and eight submarines. The German ships were unable to locate either of the convoys but sank a merchant vessel that was sailing independently. The Allies attempted to intercept the German force, also without success.
HMS Orwell was an O-class destroyer of the Royal Navy that entered service in 1942 and was broken up in 1965.
HMS Onslow was an O-class destroyer of the Royal Navy. The O-class were intermediate destroyers, designed before the outbreak of the Second World War to meet likely demands for large number of destroyers. They had a main gun armament of four 4.7 in guns, and had a design speed of 36 kn. Onslow was ordered on 2 October 1939 and was built by John Brown & Company at their Clydebank, Glasgow shipyard, launching on 31 March 1941 and completing on 8 October 1941.
PQ 13 was a British Arctic convoy that delivered war supplies from the Western Allies to the USSR during World War II. The convoy was subject to attack by German air, U-boat and surface forces and suffered the loss of five ships, plus one escort vessel. Fifteen ships arrived safely.
HMS Fury was an F-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy in the 1930s. Although assigned to the Home Fleet upon completion, the ship was attached to the Mediterranean Fleet in 1935–36 during the Abyssinia Crisis. During the Spanish Civil War of 1936–1939, she spent time in Spanish waters, enforcing the arms blockade imposed by Britain and France on both sides of the conflict. The ship escorted the larger ships of the fleet during the early stages of World War II and played a minor role in the Norwegian Campaign of 1940. Fury was sent to Gibraltar in mid-1940 and formed part of Force H where she participated in the attack on Mers-el-Kébir and the Battle of Dakar. The ship escorted numerous convoys to Malta in 1940–41 and Arctic convoys during 1942.
Prior to World War II, the Indian Ocean was an important maritime trade route between European nations and their colonial territories in East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, British India, Indochina, the East Indies (Indonesia), and Australia for a long time. Naval presence was dominated by the Royal Navy Eastern Fleet and the Royal Australian Navy as World War II began, with a major portion of the Royal Netherlands Navy operating in the Dutch East Indies and the Red Sea Flotilla of the Italian Regia Marina operating from Massawa.
HMS Mahratta was an M-class destroyer of the Royal Navy which served during World War II. Begun as Marksman, she was damaged while under construction, and dismantled to be rebuilt on a new slipway. She was launched as Mahratta in 1942, completed in 1943, and quickly pressed into service. After a short but busy career in the North Atlantic and Arctic, largely guarding merchant convoys, she was torpedoed and sunk on 25 February 1944.
Operation FB took place as part of the Arctic Convoys of the Second World War. The operation consisted of independent sailings by unescorted merchant ships between Iceland and Murmansk. In late 1942, the Allies had taken the offensive against Germany but the dispatch of supplies to the USSR by convoy via the Arctic route was suspended, due to the demands of the Mediterranean campaign. Convoy PQ 19 was cancelled because the Home Fleet diverted ships to the Mediterranean for Operation Torch which would have had to be postponed for three weeks had ships been provided for PQ 19.
Convoy PQ 15 was an Arctic convoy sent from Iceland by the Western Allies to aid the Soviet Union during the Second World War. The convoy sailed in late April 1942, reaching the Soviet northern ports after air attacks that sank three ships out of twenty-five.
Convoy PQ 14 was an Arctic convoy sent from Britain by the Western Allies to aid the Soviet Union during the Second World War. Convoys from Britain had been despatched since August 1941 and advantage had been taken of the perpetual darkness of the Arctic winter. German operations against the convoys had been muted due to the need to support Operation Barbarossa, confidence in imminent victory and the small size of the convoys. In late 1941 and early 1942 the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine had reinforced Norway with aircraft and ships.
Convoy PQ 8 was an Arctic convoy of the Western Allies to aid the Soviet Union during the Second World War. The convoy departed from Iceland on 8 January 1942 and arrived in Murmansk on 17 January with the loss of one escort sunk and one ship damaged.
Z26 was one of fifteen Type 1936A destroyers built for the Kriegsmarine during World War II. Completed in early 1941, the ship spent her active career in Norwegian waters. She first arrived there in November, but was plagued with engine problems and had to return to Germany for repairs in January 1942. Z26 returned to Norway two months later and became flagship of a destroyer flotilla. Together with two of her sisters, she attempted to intercept Convoy PQ 13. They rescued survivors from an already sunken ship before Z26 sank one straggler from the convoy. The three destroyers were spotted by a British light cruiser that badly damaged Z26 before one of the cruiser's torpedoes circled back around and crippled her. Pursuit of Z26 was taken over by a British destroyer that so badly damaged her that she was drifting and on fire when the timely arrival of the other two German destroyers prevented the British ship from sinking Z26. They were able to rescue 88 survivors and a submarine later rescued 8 others; 243 crewmen were killed in the battle.
Convoy QP 10 was an Arctic convoy of World War II, consisting of empty merchant ships returning from the Soviet Union after delivering their cargo there. The convoy consisted of 16 merchant ships and an escort of nine warships. The convoy departed Murmansk on 10 April 1942 and arrived in Reykjavik on 21 April. The convoy was attacked by German U-boats and aircraft, resulting in the loss of four merchant ships. Another ship, Stone Street, was damaged by air attack and forced to turn back to the Kola Inlet. The convoy's escorts shot down six German planes and damaged another during the course of the voyage. Later, six merchant ships from Convoy PQ 14 joined QP 10.
HMS Zephyr was a Z-class destroyer. She was launched on 13 July 1942 at Vickers-Armstrong on Tyneside and commissioned on 6 September 1944. She was 'adopted' by the civil community of Doncaster, replacing the destroyer HMS Lightning, which had originally been adopted during Warship Week in 1942.
Gremyashchy was one of 29 Gnevny-class destroyers built for the Soviet Navy during the late 1930s. Completed in 1939, she was assigned to the Baltic Fleet and was later transferred to the Northern Fleet in 1941.
Operation Orator was the code name for the defence of the Allied Arctic convoy PQ 18 by British and Australian air force units, based temporarily in North-West Russia, against attack by the German battleship Tirpitz and other Kriegsmarine surface vessels. The wing, known as the Search & Strike Force, was commanded by Group Captain Frank Hopps and its maritime strike element was the Leuchars Wing, comprising No. 144 Squadron, Royal Air Force (RAF) and No. 455 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) equipped with Handley-Page Hampden TB 1 torpedo bombers.
Gromky was one of 29 Gnevny-class destroyers built for the Soviet Navy during the late 1930s. Completed in 1938, the ship was initially assigned to the Baltic Fleet before being transferred to the Northern Fleet in mid-1939 where she played a minor role in the 1939–1940 Winter War against Finland.
HMS Dianella was a Flower-class corvette of the Royal Navy. She served during the Second World War.