Soviet Union Information Bureau


THE Soviet merchant fleet, under the supervision of the Sovtorgflot (Caspian Sea not included), as of October 1, 1928, consisted of the following vessels:

Number Register tons
Steamships, freight and passenger 64 84,283
Steamships, freight 90 165,148
Sailing vessels 1 (included in sail and motor)
Sail and motor 51 6483
Tugs and auxiliary vessels 142

Of these the 175 larger vessels were distributed, by the various seas, as follows:

White Sea 35
Baltic Sea 23
Black and Azov Seas 101
Pacific Ocean 16
Total 175

The merchant fleet of the Caspian Sea is under the supervision of the Caspar (Caspian Steamship Co.). The fleet of the Caspar consisted in 1927 of the following vessels:

Number Capacity Tons
Tankers 75 105,650
Freighters 60 40,670
Barges 29 18,637
Other 21 4,154
Reserve fleet 64 12,076

The freight turnover of the Soviet ports reached only about half of the pre-war volume in 1926-27, the decline being due largely to the smaller exports of the bulky grain products.

The great part of the turnover of the ports consists of exports to foreign countries. Exports from the Soviet Union by way of water for the past three years have been as follows:

1924-25 1925-26 1926-27
(in thousands of metric tons)
White Sea and Arctic Ocean 1,069 979 1,437
Baltic Sea 734 756 1,104
Black and Azov Seas 3,198 4,770 4,936
Pacific Ocean 980 1,397 1,736
Caspian Sea 63 92 93
Total 6,044 7,994 9,306

Soviet imports by water:

1924-25 1925-26 1926-27
(in thousands of metric tons)
White Sea and Arctic Ocean 207 219 307
Baltic Sea 686 468 514
Black and Azov Seas 509 207 226
Pacific Ocean 53 70 98
Caspian Sea 105 71 85
Total 1,560 1,035 1,229

Coastwise turnover:

1924-25 1925-26 1926-27
(in thousands of metric tons)
White Sea and Arctic Ocean 82 99 102
Baltic Sea 40 28 43
Black and Azov Seas 625 988 1,004
Pacific Ocean 63 85 106
Caspian Sea 3,004 3,939 4,741
Total 3,814 5,139 5,996

Only two of the Soviet ports reached a turnover higher than the pre-war. These are the ports of Vladivostok, which is doing considerable exporting of oil cake and of grain products and of beans from Manchuria, and the port of Batum, exporting largely oil products. Murmansk was built during the war.

The turnover of Soviet ports, in comparison with 1913:

(thousands of metric tons)
1924-25 1925-26 1926-27
Grain 936 2,273 1,703
Oil products 1,323 1,459 2,004
Ores 609 685 716
Coal 231247 254

The bulk of the turnover of the Black Sea-Azov ports consisted of exports of oil products, grain, ores and coal. The growth of exports of these products from these ports has been as follows:

The principal exports from the Soviet ports on the Pacific Ocean are the Manchurian beans and oil cake. The growth of these exports during the past three years has been as follows:

(thousands of tons)
1924-25 1925-26 1926-27
Beans 595 613 743
Oil Cake 112 673 504

In 1926-27 four new steamers, with an aggregate capacity of 14,200 tons, were built in the U.S.S.R. During the year 1927-28 13 steamers with an aggregate capacity of 34,260 tons were completed.

INLAND WATERWAY5.- The Soviet River Fleet in 1926 consisted of 3,323 steamers as against 3,212 in 1924. Of the total for 1926, 2,599 boats were in operation. Sailing vessels and barges are upwards of io,000. The largest fleet of any of Soviet rivers is that on the Volga, where in 1926 there were 1,604 steamers with indicated power of 300,595.

There were also 2,949 other boats on the Volga with a capacity of 2,285,000 tons. The turnover on the Soviet internal waterways showed the following growth:

Metric tons
1920 11,200,000
1921 12,200,000
1922 13,400,000
1923 19,900,000
1924 19,600,000
1925 24,300,000
1926 32,800,000
1927 35,000,000
1928 37,000,000

The turnover of 1927 amounted to nearly 75 per cent of the pre-war turnover. In 1927 the U.S.S.R. had 88,400,000 km. of navigable waterways, 173,700 km. of rivers suitable for floating logs, and 2,000 km. of artificial waterways.

The Internal Waterways Steamship Co. had at its disposal on January 1, 1927, 2,020 steamers with an indicated power of 460,745, and 3,975 other boats with a capacity of 3,020,685 tons. In 1927 four new steamers, 48 iron barges and 147 other boats were completed in the U.S.S.R.

VOLGA-DON CANAL: Of great importance to the future of water transport is the Volga-Don Canal project, plans for which were approved by the State Council of Experts in 1928. This canal will give the Volga, the chief inland waterway of the Soviet Union, an outlet into the Black Sea, instead of the landlocked Caspian. In addition to the construction of a canal 100 km. long between Sarepta on the Don and a point near Stalingrad on the Volga, the project involves the creation of a deep-water port at Rostovon-Don, the sluicing of the Don and bringing to a norm the minimum depth of the Volga. The geographic position of Rostov makes it the chief port for the Southern grain-producing region.

THE DNIEPER RIVER PROJECT.- At present the Dnieper River, flowing into the Black Sea, is navigable only to the rapids near Zaporozhye, about 200 miles from its mouth. The completion of the Dnieprostroy hydroelectric plant at Zaporozhye, now well under way, with its dam and canal lock system, will open the river for a further 500 miles for vessels up to 2,000 tons. The improvement will make the vast valley of the Dnieper a tributary to world trade.