This bay in Crimea is not just nice blue water and yachts. This one has some unprecedented in world history object, top secret sometime ago, and now it’s a museum called “Balaclava” same as the bay called. A museum of submarines.
After the WW2 bot world superpowers USSR and USA were increasing their nuclear potential. Then Stalin ordered to find a place where to hide nuclear missiles carrying submarines. After a few years of search they found this bay and a small town Balaclava. They changed its status to “Top Secret” overnight. They were building the object for the next eight years. Russian blogger Alexei went there and here is his story.
A 150-ton heavy gate was blocking an entrance to the bay. Compressed air was used to move it aside when needed to let in another submarine, or release a submarine for the next deep sea journey.
This object was working for thirty-two years, till 1993, until the USSR fully collapsed. Independent Ukraine called itself nuclear weapons free country and didn’t need this object anymore. So it stayed unguarded from 1993 to 2002 and was actively looted, until the authorities decided to make a museum in 2004.
This is an underground map of the object combined with a sat view of the bay.
These are vintage photos from the times the object was working.
This was the entrance gate for the personnel. If you plan visiting take some warm cloths – the temperature inside is always low, just +12+15 and very high humidity.
Before visiting safety instructions being announced.
And also show the history of the construction of the object. At first Soviet Army tried to build it all, but they couldn’t go thru the very hard rocks so they invited Moscow subway builders to help them.
The dirt and rocks were loaded in such small rail cars.
The main tunnel leading to the dry dock.
This object also was planned to be used as a shelter in case of Atomic war. The signs on the walls say “Shelter”.
The sea mines and torpedoes were stored here as well.
They had a special pool to test torpedoes. It had lights installed on its bottom so there could be visible small bubbles of air in case the torpedo wasn’t sealed tight.
They also were loading torpedoes with fuel here. It’s components were water, kerosine and peroxide.
And thru this gate they were loading torpedoes into a submarine.
Photo on the left shows a moment when torpedoes being loaded into a submarine. Photo to the right shows Balaclava bay from the air.
On the tunnel walls there is a gallery telling stories about Soviet and Russian submarines.
And this was a pre-dock platform. The submarine repair shops were placed here.
A map again. Red marked location where the photo was taken.
There is also an ultra small funny Soviet submarine Triton. We had a posting about it here. It was used to transport divers into special operation areas. Also for the rescue operations and repairs of underwater structures.
And this is the main waterway inside the object. During the war you could hide here nine small or seven medium submarines. And around 3,000 people.
The object could withstand a direct hit by a 100 kiloton atomic bomb – which means 5-6 times more powerful than the one dropped in Japan by USA.
The dry dock was a special construct inside the object. It was a huge concrete pool that had its own smaller gates to separate it from the main waterway. The submarine could get inside and the water was pumped off so the submarine stayed on the ground with body fully accessible for repairs and servicing.
It took four hours to pump all water away. The submarine was secured by special supports so that it doesn’t lean aside. Then during next day scaffolding was built around the underwater ship. And the repair works started which lasted around three four weeks.
A model of medium Soviet diesel-electic submarine “Project 613”.
On the left you can see a loading tunnel to load things into the submarine.
And then they went to an armory. A place where the ammo were stored, including the nuclear ones. Not only for submarines but for all Soviet Navy forces.
Two gates are blocking the way into armory. Yellow gates, made of metal sheets and concrete inside, weighting 10 tons, can stand explosion or bomb hit. Red ones are the special isolation to prevent spreading of radiation, poisonous gas or water.
These are emergency lights on.
The photographer says he felt himself scared no matter his mind knew there were no nuclear attack happening.
This exhibition demonstrates “war crimes of the USA”. Including the destruction of Japanese cities with 200,000 people.
Inside the armory there are two rooms. There is a cruise missile “X-22” “Burya” on display.
The smaller missiles were moved on those railed cars, which could turn 90 degrees on those special intersections.
This car weighs 996 kg and can carry 7 tons, were moved manually by people.
“Don’t tell everything you know
But everything know what you tell”
This technical room is now being used as a museum.
This is a part of outer coating of 690 “Kefal” Soviet submarine. The space between two layers was used to absorb the water used as deadweight to go under water.
The photographer says that this museum was very interesting. He felt awe from touching military secrets of USSR times.
The sign reads: “Strictly guard the military secrets of the state!”
Thanks to Alexei for his photos, his website is below: