Naval Forces

Albania Table of Contents

None of Albania's pre-World War II naval forces survived the occupation of Albania; the new navy was established in August 1945. The naval forces were exclusively coastal defense forces and closely coordinated their operations with the ground forces. Their mission was to provide the initial line of resistance to a seaborne invasion of Albania. Considerably weaker than their potential adversaries, the naval forces were intended to deny an aggressor uninhibited access to the waters adjacent to Albania. They would be largely sacrificed in the effort to defeat at least some of the units of a large, well-equipped opposing naval assault force. They would try to prevent submarines from approaching Albanian coasts and ports, to lay and sweep mines, and to escort convoys. The absence of a shore-based coastal defense force with surface-to-surface missiles, however, was a serious deficiency in the navy's ability to repel a seaborne attack on Albania. Naval forces, together with police patrol boats, were also responsible for preventing smuggling and controlling access to Albanian ports.

Naval forces were organized into two coastal defense brigades composed of minor surface combatants located at the Durrės and Vlorė naval bases. All combatants were assigned to one of these bases. Other naval facilities were located at Sazan Island, Pasha Liman on the strait of Otranto coast, Sarandė, and Shengjin. The Soviet Union constructed the base at Sazan Island, but it was not used regularly after Soviet-Albanian relations ruptured in 1961. Naval personnel numbered about 2,000 men, with roughly one-half being conscripts.

The strength of the naval forces shrank between the mid-1970s and 1991. In particular, old Italian ships of World War II vintage and most of Albania's minesweepers left the inventory. Torpedo boats and coastal patrol craft constituted the bulk of the naval forces. In 1991 Albania had twenty-nine Chinese-built Huchwan hydrofoil torpedo boats, each of which had two 533mm torpedo tubes. Patrol craft included six Chinese-made Shanghai-II fast inshore gunboats and two older Soviet Kronshtadt-class patrol boats. Minesweeping forces consisted of old Soviet-built T-301 and PO-2 boats. The naval forces also had two obsolete Soviet Whiskey-class diesel submarines constructed during the 1950s.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress