Episode 13: Sergey Gorshkov: Architect of the Soviet Navy

Admiral Sergey Georgyevich Gorshkov (1910–1988) was a celebrated hero of the so-called Great Fatherland War (1941–1945). He was Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Navy from 1956 until 1985, which he built up to be a navy fit for a superpower with global ambitions. He also furnished the navy’s theoretical strategic underpinnings through a series of publications which were studied closely by friends and foes alike.

The navy that Gorshkov inherited was significantly smaller than that of the USSR’s main competitor, the US. Gorshkov turned this navy into a strong defensive force that could keep US nuclear submarines at bay. But he also wanted his navy to project Soviet power globally.

In this episode, Beatrice and Paul and joined by Captain (ret.) Dr Kevin Rowlands, Head of the Royal Navy’s Strategic Studies Centre. Captain Rowlands spent 30 years in the Royal Navy, both at sea and in positions such as Secretary to the Chiefs of Staff Committee, and was the Course Director for the UK’s Advanced Command and Staff Course.

The views or statements expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the podcast does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Views and opinions expressed by RUSI employees are those of the employees and do not necessarily reflect the view of RUSI.


Gorshkov, Admiral Sergey G: ‘Navies in War and Peace’ (1972) trs. in US Naval Institute Proceedings Vol. 100 No. 1-11 (Jan.-Nov. 1974). A more comprehensive version was published as Sea Power and the State (1972) trs. by Pergamon Press (Malabar, FL: Robert E Krieger Publishing Company, 1979).

Rowlands, Kevin: 21st Century Gorshkov: The challenge of seapower in the modern era (Annapolis, Naval Institute Press, 2017).

Polmar, Norman, Thomas A Brooks and George E Federoff: Admiral Gorshkov: The Man Who Challenged the US Navy (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2019).

Herrick, Robert Waring: Soviet naval theory and policy: Gorshkov's inheritance (Newport RI: US Naval War College Press, 1989).

Sergei Chernyanskii: ‘The era of Gorshkov: triumph and contradictions’, Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 28 No. 2 (2005), pp. 281–308.


Beatrice Heuser

Senior Associate Fellow

View profile

Paul O’Neill

Senior Research Fellow

Military Sciences

View profile


Explore our related content