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Balaklava Naval Museum (Sevastopol)

1 Mramornaya Str., Balaklava District, Sevastopol, tel.: (+38 0692) 63-75-90.


According to the decree dated 29 July, 2002 and signed by the President of Ukraine regarding the demilitarization of the Balaklava Bay, the Department of Defence of Ukraine had decided to establish the Balaklava Naval Museum.

To achieve this goal, it was decided to use the former submarine operation and maintenance facility, subsidized by the Ministry of Defence, the Navy ammunition supplies warehouse and the living quarters of the Zaporozhe submarine crew.

After the atomic bombing of the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945, the Soviet Government took into the consideration the magnitude of the destructions and the consequences of the atomic explosions and adopted a comprehensive plan with the objective of protecting the principal industrial and military objects of the country from the nuclear weapons.

The Government had decided to build a facility in Balaklava that could protect the machinery and people in case of the atomic explosion. The project of the Balaklava shielding underground structure was prepared by Leningrad Design Institute and was submitted to the government for the approval in 1953. Joseph Stalin had personally revised and approved the construction proposal of building a special submarine repair underground plant located in the Balaklava Bay.

During the post-war years Balaklava served as a Navy base. It hosted the 14th submarine division of the Black Sea Fleet of the USSR.

The construction of this classified facility began in December of 1953 by the military mining division of the Black Sea Fleet.

The builders worked around the clock, in three shifts. By the end of 1955, a group of railway builders sent to the Balaklava from the Caucasus joined the construction project.

The output of the rocky ground from the mine gallery of the tunnel was 200,000 cubic meters. Man-made underground roads, airlock chambers, workshops, warehouse, arsenals, offices, piers, deep channel and a dry dock that could receive a submarine appeared in the rocky depths of the western part of the mountain cliff. The facility was built in several phases. The builders received the blueprints in instalments, and upon the termination of the construction all the documentation was confiscated.

In 1957, Balaklava had lost its status of a city, became an area of Sevastopol and free entry was prohibited. You could enter it only by obtaining a special permission.

The entire underground facility consisted of the repair shop (or the Special shop), which was dedicated to the repairs, maintenance and preparation of submarines for the military missions, and of the arms arsenal which prepared the weapons for the submarines and military ships.

The construction of the facility finished in 1961.

Nikolay Khruschev visited the facility in the same year. Upon personally seeing the construction, he waved his hands and remarked "All of it should be given to the winemakers". However, the commanders of the Black Sea Fleet made an effort and the remarkable underground facility did not end up in the winemakers' hands. In the same year the facility was put into operation under the code name "Facility 825 GTC" (Special shop plant Metalist since 1969).

The facility was built according to the principles of the first category anti-nuclear resistance. The concrete walls were 1 to 5 meters wide. The facility could survive after the direct hit of 100 kiloton nuclear bomb, which was 5 times greater than the amount dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The infrastructure of the plant permitted it to completely isolate the submarines from the outside world by closing the underwater airlock chambers. It also could protect up to 3000 people in its mine galleries in case of a nuclear attack.

The submarines would usually enter the plant at night, when the city inhabitants were sleeping. The facility serviced the submarines assigned to projects 613, 633, 615. In the right-hand side of the channel there was a caisson gate (naval shutter) that was closing the entrance of the channel and weighted about 150 ton. It was 14 meters tall, 6 meters wide and 18 meters long. Nowadays it stays in the "open" position that is sunk in a special niche.

The combined underground channel of the facility would permit the entrance of up to 7–9 submarines, depending on the design of the submarine. It is 505 meters long (the total tunnel length is 600 meters), 6–22 meters wide and 6–8.5 meters deep.

The channel that permitted the access of the submarines to the repair shop goes through the entire mountain, and the exit is situated across from the Balaklava Bay exit. The exit also had a caisson gate, but of a different design. It consisted of a set of reinforced concrete blocks that could be mounted one on top of the other, thus closing the exit from the channel.

Both exits were camouflaged by special nets and rocks.

During the operational period of the facility it had various work areas:
- mine and missile section, where the missiles were checked for the air tightness;
- workstation areas (lathe and locksmiths' zones) where any submarine parts could be repaired;
- testing areas of the electrical and hydraulic equipment;
- dry dock used for the submarine repairs.

The Special shop had an emergency supply of food, water and medicines. The ventilation system had air filters for the rough and fine air purification. People could live in the facility autonomously for up to 30 days.

The work area of the facility began with the platform located in front of the docks. It was used to receive the supplies required for the repair of the submarine in the dry dock. It had a large-size boring machine (base length of 15 meters) used for boring the grease retainers of the main propeller shaft of the submarine, an electric cart station and an access to the pumping station that would withdraw the water from the dry dock when it was receiving a submarine.

The main workspace had a machinery area, inspection areas of electrical and hydraulic submarine equipment, warehouses and multiuse areas as well as a bakery, a cafeteria, hospital and first aid blocks, a communication area.

From 1967, a secured command centre of the submarine division was located in the workstation area.

A dry dock was an enclosure of the main channel. Its dimensions were impressive: it was 102 meters long, 10 meters wide and 8 meters deep. The entrance to the dry dock was closed off by a small caisson, the flood holes of which permitted the water to enter.

Before the submarine was received for the repairs, the dry dock was previously filled with water that entered through the flood holes of the small caisson, a door that blocked the entrance to the dry dock. After the water level was the same in the dock and in the channel, the caisson was opened to the side, thus giving the submarine the space to enter the dock. Later the caisson was returned to its original position and the water was pumped out of the dock area.

The average length of submarine repairs was 3–4 weeks.

The plants' pathway is a big transportation tunnel leading to the work areas of the facility. It was used to move the prepared missiles from the mine and missile section of the plant, for the delivery of the supplies and equipment to the work area, as well as a shelter for the personnel in case of nuclear war. The pathway had a round part of a certain diameter that was intended to reduce the impact of the blast wave. The pathway was 296 meters long, 4 meters wide and 4.5 meters high. It intersected with the small transportation tunnel intended for the delivery of the missiles from the mine and missile area to the water tunnel.

The mine and missile area was intended for the preparation and verification of the ammunition of the submarines. The workstations of the mine and missile area were responsible for inserting the electrical components into the missiles, performing reviews of the electrical schematics of the mines and missiles, checking the self-homing equipment and air-tightness. The caisson pool with the illuminated bottom was used to check the air-tightness of the missiles. The air bubbles would indicate that the missile leaked air. The missiles that had been prepared and verified this way were received by the personnel and delivered to the warehouse of the prepared missiles located in the ammunition area of the facility.

The corridors of the facility had an intersection. The main corridor was 300 meters long and led to the production area. The second corridor was located across the entrance to the tunnel was 65 meters long and connected the fuel warehouse with the repairs area.

The tunnels had the railways that facilitated manual transportation of the missile carts.

In the middle of the intersection there was a turning circle that facilitated the change of the direction of the moving carts.

The size of the two-fold arched anti-nuclear protective gates intended for covering the entrance was 4.0х5.6 meters. The wings of the gates were welded (made of sheet steel and rolled steel), filled with M 500 cement and hung by the hinges to the door frame. They were put in motion by the hydraulic mechanism. The cumulative weight of each gate wing with cement filling was 10 tons.

The construction of the Arsenal (a maintenance and repair base for the preparation of the weapons for the submarines and military ships) began in 1963.

The Arsenal contained missile combat warheads, including the nuclear ones, as well as held scheduled maintenance and assembly works.

The airlock chamber of the Arsenal was intended for the protection of the workspaces from the adverse consequences of the nuclear explosion.

The chamber consisted of the anti-nuclear protective gates located on the outside and the protective airlock door from the inside. Electric drivers that moved each part of the anti-nuclear gate were installed inside of the airlock chamber.

The size of the two-fold arched anti-nuclear protective gates intended for covering the entrance was 3.0х2.8 meters and hold the pressure of 60 kilogram-force/square centimetre. The doors were made of sheet steel and rolled steel and filled with M 500 cement. The cumulative weight of one door with cement filling was 10 tons, the thickness was 60 centimetres, and it was 3 meters high.

The protective airlock door was made of sheet steel. The strong rubber edge along the perimeter sealed the opening. The door had a gate for the personnel and weighted 480 kg.

The Arsenal consisted of the local and the technical areas.

The local area consisted of the warhead warehouse and the assembly area.

The technical section had mechanisms that ensured the functioning of the local areas and autonomous functioning of the entire Arsenal.

The local area was the most classified area of the Arsenal. Only the officers and sub-officers had the access to it. The rooms of this area were used to store the warheads and to make the scheduled maintenance tasks.

In the centre of this area there was a turning circle used to change the direction of the missile transportation carts. The weight of each cart was 996 kg, and the carrying capacity — 7 tons. According to the safety requirements the carts were only moved manually.

The exposition The History of Creation and Development of the Naval Forces of Ukraine is located in the warehouse of conventional and nuclear missiles.

The warehouse of conventional and nuclear devices for torpedoes and missiles consists of two joined areas. Conventional devices for the torpedoes and missiles were stored in the first area. Containers with nuclear devices were stored on the special pedestal in the second area. Special temperature and humidity conditions were strictly observed in the warehouse (5–15 degrees C, 50–60% humidity).

The dock located in the warehouse was intended for loading the missiles onto the submarines, which would harbour in the facility in case of nuclear bombing. During the non-war times the dock was used exclusively for the educational and training purposes and the missiles were loaded from the pier.

The loading dock was connected with the local area by the 304 meters long ammunition corridor.

The biggest room in the ammunition warehouse had a working area of 300 square meters. The main part of it is separated into six squares (per boundary maps); each of them was hosting a workspace where a particular type of warheads was assembled.

The vault-like cabinets with all the equipment needed for the assembly works (spare parts, testing and measuring tools, special tools) were located in front of the entrance to the assembly room. These cabinets were covered by 18-sentimeters thick strong metal doors, each of which weighted 300 kg.

Along the wall across the cabinets there were lockers with the uniform worn by the team of workers that consisted of 6 people: a team leader, two junior officers and three sub-officers.

The number of highly qualified personnel employed by the facility was reaching one hundred. However, as time went by, despite being unique and powerful, the underground facility began to lose its strategic importance. This was due to the fact that the Naval Forces of the USSR had made a switch to the different type of submarines, which were more complicated in servicing and larger in size. Therefore, the facility was working until 1993.

In March of 1995, the last submarine had left Balaklava Bay, the Naval base had ceased to exist, and the facilities were left for the looters.

In December of 2002, it got converted into the branch Central Museum of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and became the Balaklava Naval Museum. It was opened to the general public on 1 June, 2003.

V. F. Sadovichenko was appointed as a head of the Balaklava Naval Museum. At that time the museum had 18 employees.

The museum exposition is divided into parts that are dedicated to the development of the Navy from the times of ancient Greece, Rome, Kievan Russia; the history of the Ukrainian and Russian fleets.

The exposition The History of Creation and Development of the Naval Forces of Ukraine was opened on 1 August, 2005.

This exposition is dedicated to the establishment of the Naval Forces of Ukraine. It features the uniform of Admirals B. Kozhin, V. Bezkorovayniy, several items from the Zaporozhe submarine, such as breathing equipment, a radio beacon, and winter uniform of the crew members.

The exposition hall features the displays with the flags of Naval Forces of Ukraine, sleeve grade stripes of various divisions, ships, and Navy headquarters as well as the weapons installed on the ships, submarines used by the marines and the coast guards.

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Balaklava Naval Museum