Before the German 17th Army could proceed with its authorized retreat from the Taman Peninsula, the Soviet North Caucasus Front launched a surprise attack on the heavily embedded German defences. The offensive began on 9 September with a small deployment of troops from the Black Sea who landed in Novorossiysk. After this initial incursion, Soviet troops began their attack across the mountainous terrain on the southern front. Repeatedly using the Black Sea Fleet for artillery support, the Russians pushed further along the southern coast of the peninsula. Troops were dropped behind enemy lines from the water, enabling the defenders to be surrounded, and the Russians’ air dominance allowed frequent bombing raids to be conducted. Progress through the more heavily fortified middle and swampy northern areas of the peninsula was slower, however the Russians advanced steadily as the Germans evacuated the majority of their forces across the Kerch Strait.