“The state which possesses only land forces, has only one hand, the state which also possesses a fleet, — has both hands”.
On July 27 (August 7) took place two glorious victories of the Russian Fleet — naval battles with Swedish fleet at Cape Gangut (Hanko) (1714) and at Grengam (Granhamn) (1720).
Struggle for sea access, first of all, to the Baltic Sea had been one of the major directions of Russian foreign policy since the olden days. The 1700-1721 Great Northern War and, in particular, the naval battles of the Russian and Swedish fleets at the Cape of Gangut (Hanko) and Grengam became one of the most important stages in this struggle.
In summer 1714 the Russian galley fleet under the command of General Admiral F.M. Apraksin (99 galleys and small galleys) went from Kronstadt to the Aland Skerries to strengthen the Russian garrison in the city of Abo. Its way was blocked by the Swedish linear fleet of Vice-Admiral Wattrang (15 battleships, 3 frigates, 2 bombardier ships, and a group of rowing vessels), which was placed at the southern extremity of the Gangut peninsula. To bypass the enemy ships, the Russian party decided to pull a part of the ships over a narrow part of the isthmus. Admiral Wattrang had been informed of the Russians' attempt, and sent a naval detachment of Rear Admiral Nils Ehrenskiöld consisting of 10 ships to the terminal point of the portage. Having taken the advantage of the split of the Swedish forces and the calm weather, a part of Russian fleet on oars broke along the coast blocked Ehrenskiöld in the Rilaks Fjord. The Swedes refused the offer to surrender, after which Peter the Great, who was at the command of the vanguard ordered to attack the enemy.
In the course of the battle, the Swedes lost 10 ships and 361 men killed, 350 wounded and 237 captured. The Russians losses were 127 men killed and 342 wounded. For the participation in the battle of Gangut 130 Russian officers were awarded gold medals and 3284 low ranks men were awarded silver medals.
Gangut was the first major victory of the Russian fleet. It infused courage into Russian soldiers, having shown, that the Swedes can be beaten not only on the land, but also at the sea. Russia strengthened its position in Finland. Fighting was transferred to the Swedish territory.
Six years later on July 27 (August 7) 1720 at Grengam the galley fleet under the command of the general M. M. Golitsyn (61 galleys and 29 boats, 52 guns) defeated Swedish squadron of the Vice Admiral Siöblad.
On July 27 (August 7) the Russian Fleet moved to the island Granhamn in order to take an advantageous position in the narrow stack, but was attacked by the Swedes and turned back to the strait. When Swedish ships entered the shallow strait, Russians unleashed a counterattack boarding 4 frigates, other Swedish ships retreated. The Swedish side lost 103 men killed and 407 captured, the Russians — 82 men killed and 203 wounded.
The victory at Grengam speeded up the conclusion of the Treaty of Nystad and brought closer the end of the Great Northern War.
Lit.: Кротов П. А. Гангутская баталия 1714 года. СПб., 1996; Северная война 1700–1721 гг. // Боевая летопись русского флота: Хроника важнейших событий военной истории русского флота с IX в. по 1917 г. М., 1948. Разд. 2. С. 43—68; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://militera.lib.ru/h/boevaya_letopis_flota/08.html; Новиков Н. В. Гангут. М., 1944; Материалы для истории Гангутской операции. Вып. 1—4. Пг., 1914—1918; Ростунов И. И., Авдеев В. А., Осипова М. Н., Соколов Ю. Ф. История Северной войны 1700–1721 гг. М., 1987. Гл. 4. Освобождение Прибалтики и Финляндии; Гл. 5. Последние сражения и завершение войны; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://militera.lib.ru/h/rostunov_ii2/index.html.
From the Presidential library materials: