Storozhevoy : The Real Hunt for Red October

In November 1975 the Soviet Krivak class anti submarine frigate Storozhevoy was involved in a mutiny. This mutiny and the Soviet navy’s response would go on to inspire Tom Clancy’s best selling novel The Hunt for Red October.

The mutiny was instigated and led by the ships political commissar Captain of the Third Rank Valery Sablin. Sablin wished to make a political protest against what he believed to be widespread corruption within the Brezhnev government.

His plan involved commandeering the ship and then sailing it out of the Bay of Riga (where elements of the Soviet Baltic fleet were based) and onto Leningrad (modern St. Petersburg).


Sablins intended route from the Bay of Riga to Leningrad

On arrival in Leningrad he would navigate the ship along the Neva river and then moor alongside the Cruiser Aurora, a museum ship and symbol of the Russian Revolution. Sablin then intended to broadcast a national address to the people of the Soviet Union. This address would say what he believed the public wanted to say openly but could only be discussed in private: “that socialism and the motherland were in danger; the ruling authorities were up to their necks in corruption, demagoguery, graft, and lies, leading the country into an abyss; communism had been discarded, and there was a need to revive the Leninist principles of Justice”.

Cruiser Aurora.jpg

The Aurora in St Petersburg

On the evening of the 9th of November 1975 Sablin put his plan into action. He lured the captain to the lower deck with false reports of some officers being drunk on duty and requiring disciplinary action. On his arrival Sablin detained him and other officers by locking them in the forward SONAR compartment allowing him to take control of the ship.

After a vote from the remaining officers saw 8 vote in favour of the mutiny and 7 against (these were also imprisoned) Sablin set about winning the support of the ships crew for his plan. This was easy as he was a popular officer among the seamen and was able to motivate them with a passionate revolutionary speech.

On discovering that their plan may soon be revealed as one officer had managed to get off the ship to raise the alarm Sablin took the decision to set sail immediately instead of waiting until the rest of the fleet was scheduled to set sail in the morning.

Under the cover of darkness and with her radar switched off to avoid detection the Storozhevoy slipped out of port and out to sea.

Valery Sablin

Upon learning of the mutiny the Kremlin  ordered that “control must be regained” while fearing that Sablin may attempt to gain political asylum for himself and his crew in Sweden.

Half of the Baltic fleet was put to sea to pursue the mutineers. The force was made up of 13 naval vessels with 60 warplanes including Yak-28 jet fighters.

YaK 28 "Brewer C".jpg


The fighters dropped 500lb bombs around the ship and carried out repeated strafing runs against the Storozhevoy. These attacks damaged the ship’s steering forcing her to stop dead in the water in a position 43 miles from Swedish waters. Soviet ships began to close in on the Storozhevoy firing warning shots until they were close enough to carry out boarding action with marine commandos.

Upon boarding the commandos found Sablin had already been shot and was being detained by members of the ships crew who had also released the captain and officers from their imprisonment.

On their return to shore the entire ships company was arrested and interrogated by authorities however only Sablin and his second in command Alexander Shein (a 20-year-old seaman) were eventually tried for the mutiny. The rest of the crew were free but were dishonorably discharged from the navy.

Shein was sentenced to prison and was released after serving an eight years. Sablin was convicted of high treason and was executed by firing squad on the 3rd of August 1976.

Krivak Class Frigate

In 1982 as part of an academic thesis: “Mutiny on Storozhevoy: A Case Study of Dissent in the Soviet Navy” Gregory D. Young investigated the events of the 1975 mutiny. This thesis was placed in the US Naval Academy archives. A few years later the thesis was read by an insurance salesmen by the name of Tom Clancy…

Gaming the Mutiny

The mutiny on the Storozhevoy could be used as a naval wargaming scenario using my Naval Command rules.  One player takes command of the Krivak class Frigate Storozhevoy under the command of Valery Sablin while the opposing player takes control of elements of the Soviet Baltic Fleet and Soviet Airforce. The Baltic fleet will outnumber the mutineers making this a tricky mission. I would suggest using the hidden deployment rules and giving the Storozhevoy and additional decoy marker.


The Storozhevoy begins the game 60cm from the port to represent its head start by leaving port at night. The Storozhevoy also automatically wins the initiative for the first turn.

The objective zone is a square area 60cm from the Storozhevoy’s starting position.

Mutineer Objectives

By the end of 10 turns the Storozhevoy must make it to the objective zone. This represents the ship leaving Soviet territorial waters.

Soviet Objectives

The Soviets must attempt to cause enough damage to force the Storozhevoy to stop or slow down enough to bring another ship alongside to enable boarding.

If the Storozhevoy is sunk the game results in a draw as although the mutiny has been stopped, the mutineers may become martyrs to their cause.






Naval Command: AAR – Amphibious Assault

This AAR features a game using my Naval Command modern naval rules that I put on at the Minehead Wargames Club a few weeks ago.

The scenario was a fictional amphibious assault on the Kaliningrad area by combined NATO forces during a hypothetical modern day conflict with Russia.

Russia had invaded the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) and NATO had triggered article 5, resulting in a full military response to the Russian aggression. The NATO plan was to attempt to capture the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad which could then be used as a bargaining chip to force Russia to withdraw from the Baltic states. The overall plan involved an amphibious operation combined with a land attack through Poland. Our game focused on the amphibious operation.

The NATO task force was divided between two players (Mark and Roger) each in command of an amphibious battle group.

The Russian fleet (played by myself) was also divided into two groups, a Cruiser group (currently at sea) and a destroyer group (currently at anchor off the coast). The Russians also had air force elements based at an on-table airbase.

The NATO objective was to land as many of their land forces on the shore as possible.

The Russians got off to a terrible start, their Kirov class battlecruiser suffered and engine malfunctioned and was rendered immobilized for the duration of the game. This was shortly followed by a successful Tomahawk Cruise Missile strike from the US Ticonderoga class cruiser that totally obliterated the Russian airbase before any jets could be scrambled and launched.


The Russian airfield after the Tomahawk strike

This bad start set the precedent for the rest of the game, the Russian forces took heavy damage from the incoming NATO fleet and without their air power could do little to respond. The only consolation for the Russians was that they were able to knock out an American carrier with a Submarine.


The US carrier takes a missile hit from a Russian sub

Although the NATO forces didn’t make it to the shore the game ended with nearly all the Russian ships put out of action and the remaining Russian sub (having been detected by an ASW helicopters dipping SONAR) being rapidly hunted down by NATO ASW elements.

Overall it was a fun game and all of the players enjoyed themselves. Mark and Roger found the rules easy to pick up and learn and not too complicated for players new to the Modern Naval period.

Photos kindly provided by Paul Davies.

Fireteam:WWII – Now Available!

My new WWII Skirmish rules are now available from the WargameVault.

The game uses the same system as my already published Fireteam:Modern set of rule but with a number of improvements and changes to better suit them to the WWII period.

The game is intended for reinforced platoon sized engagements. Each player will usually command a platoon with a few additional support weapons or vehicles.

The rules provide fast paced games that reflect the intense and unpredictable nature of warfare at close quarters.

The rules also allow players to utilize real world historical platoon combat tactics such as making use of fire and maneuvers with covering suppressive fire.

The rulebook includes all the rules needed to play the game including rules for vehicles, artillery and aircraft. Army lists are included for late war British, Americans, Germans and Soviets. More will be available soon as free downloads on this site.


Bocage Country

This week at the Minehead Wargames Club I put on a game of Fireteam:WWII. The game was set in Normandy a few days after the D-Day landings. The mission involved a British platoon attempting top capture a small village from German Defenders.

The infantry miniatures are from Warlord Games’ Bolt Action series while the vehicles are 1/48 scale models by Tamiya.

British Force

  • Command Group
  • PIAT team
  • OP Team
  • 2 x Infantry Sections
  • Vickers MG Team
  • Universal Carrier
  • Sherman Firefly
  • 1 x 25pdr Field Gun (off-table)

German Force

  • Command Group
  • 2 x Infantry Sections
  • MG-42 Team
  • Tiger Tank

The Battlefield

One half of the table was covered with farmland with dense bocage hedgerows (seriously restricting lines of sight) while the opposite end was occupied by a small village.

The terrain was built and provided by club member and terrain guru Paul Davies who has also published an excellent book on producing wargaming terrain that can be purchased on Amazon.

The Game

The opening turns of the game saw the Germans taking up defensive positions in the village including positioning their MG-42 team on the top floor of one of the buildings. The British cautiously advanced sending their Tank, and MG team directly ahead while the two infantry sections moved around the flank.

The dense bocage terrain prevented any long range firing so the first few turns were light on casualties. Once the British reached the edge of the village the action really began.

The Sherman Firefly edged out of one of the fields and hit the side armour of the Tiger with a lucky shot, knocking it out before it could even engage a target. Meanwhile the Germans defending the edge of the village engaged in fire fights with the British positioned in the hedgerows. Due to some awful dice rolling from myself combined with excellent dice from my opponent Mark the Germans came off much worse.

This hammering on the edge of the village sent the defenders into disarray with one section surrendering and the others forced to fall back. To add to the German misfortune, Mark managed to bring an artillery strike down on the building housing the MG-42, killing most of the team. All of this allowed the British to enter the village while the rest of their force could carry out their attack on the German flank and secure the victory.

Overall it was a fun game with plenty of tension and excitement. Once the firefights began the effects of the close quarter gunfire was brutal. If I were to play the battle again I would make more use of the buildings and probably dig most of the defenders in before the game (and roll better dice of course).

Legionary: 2017

This Saturday (13th May) I am planning to attend the Legionary wargames show down in Exeter. I will be helping out with an American civil War game put on by the Minehead Wargames Club, showcasing the excellent miniatures and terrain of Mark Densham.

Although I will not directly be promoting my own games feel free to pop over for a chat or with any questions about my rules, I would love to meet you!

More about the event can be found on the shows website:


Fireteam:WWII – Progress Update

The poor weather other the May bank holiday we experienced here in Somerset has had the bonus of allowing me to make some large steps forward with producing my second world war variant of my Fireteam skirmish rules (although the rain did mean I missed out on the Civil War day at Dunster Castle).

The main part of the rules is now complete, players of Fireteam:Modern will notice a few changes to the rules that have been made to better suit the time period.  All that remains is to compile the first wave of army lists and carry out final tweaks and proof reads.

The army lists in the core rulebook will cover the ever popular late war period (1944-45) for the UK, USA, German and Soviet armies. Other periods and nations will also be provided with lists that will be uploaded onto this website for free download.

Hopefully in the next few weeks I will put on a game of Fireteam:WWII at the Minehead Wargames club and post an after action report with photos on here.

WWII Preview