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Balaklava Naval Museum Complex

Have you ever heard about the place of? I am sure, you have. This is a well-known place in the whole world. Maybe it’s known because of Crimea War events that took place 1854-1855, and the Light cavalry Brigade which was later celebrated by Tennyson in his poems. But we will show you another Balaclava. The unknown Balaclava…

Until 1991 Balaklava was one of the most secret towns in the former Soviet Union. The reason of this secrecy was Nuclear Submarine Base. Now it’s a Naval Museum Complex open to visitors since 2003.

You can’t find much information about this place in the Internet. People who worked here are not very communicative with journalists. It’s not surprising – those who had worked in the atmosphere of top secrecy for many years can’t change. So, nobody knows for sure what mysterious operations were held there, and the walls of Nuclear Submarine base still keep many secrets. The only way to know something about it is to visit it. We have been here, and this article is written from the words of the guides of Balaclava Naval Museum.

The Base is situated inside the rock. Construction of the underground section of the base begun in 1957 in the conditions of an extreme secrecy, and it was completed in 1961. The plant and arsenal were anti-nuclear objects of the first category. The base was equipped with a powerful diesel station, fuel and lubrication tanks (ceiling height of which is equal to several dozen meters), storage of foodstuff and water, an autonomous climate system, transport ways, supply pipelines, dormitories and the rooms for personnel, shower cabins, mess-rooms, etc. In the case of a nuclear attack the base could withstand a direct hit of nuclear bomb and still remain operational.

Basic task of the underground base was to repair and refuel submarines, provide them with proper ammunition and replace their accumulator batteries. In addition to this warehouses of torpedoes and nuclear missile were built.

An integrated underground channel of the plant had a sufficient area under the rock in order to shelter up to nine submarines. Length of the channel was equal to 500 m; its width is from 6 to 22 m in some places. Entry to the tunnel from the bay was closed by the floating bulkhead, which could be moved up and down. Weight of each door of the base was equal to 120 tons. Both entries to the base were camouflaged with special nets and pieces of rock.

However in spite of the uniqueness and capacity of its underground plant Balaclava began to loose its strategic significance. Since 2003 “Balaclava” Naval Museum Complex was opened here as an Affiliate of the Central Museum of Ukrainian Armed Forces.

In the underground premises where submarines repair plant was situated earlier special museum expositions were organized. They present chronological development of military and naval history in the context of the world development. In addition there are special stands that present information about the past of Balaclava, history of surface ships and submarines development, and information on the modern Naval Forces of Ukraine. “Arsenal” tunnel which aim was to store and maintain the ammunition for submarines is now used for demonstration of the naval ammunition exposition.

The museum is waiting for you every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. without days-off. You are welcome to visit this place with your guide from “Discover Ukraine”, or by yourself.

Article written by Katya Shtamburg


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