May 02, 2016

Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy-54; a former Soviet Navy submarine base in Russia's far-East

Location: 53°15'46.7"N 159°46'51.4"E
Picture taken in 1994 of the Bay from the volleyball court
"вид на бухту со стороны волейбольной площадки.
На противоположном берегу видна дорога к гарнизону ракетчиков Шипунский"
Photo Credit: Unknown
Source: here

This is just a stub blog post with what I've found so far, and I'll add to it as I learn more.  I doubt this is a place I'll ever have the opportunity to visit!
As usual, while I was looking for something unrelated, this caught my eye.  I have a theory, that doesn't just apply to fashion; what was old, will be new again - especially when it comes to military facilities.
I presume the Soviet Navy chose this location for a naval base because it was sheltered and in an excellent strategic location to protect their Pacific Naval Fleet bastion, where SSBNs would lurk.  After the fall of the Soviet Union, the base was abandoned in 1996.  If the Russians ever look for a new location for a naval base, or some other related facility that requires it to be hidden from prying eyes, I'd think this would be considered.  It is extremely remote, with no road, rail, or air access.  Clearly from the pictures it's not in "move-in" condition at the moment, but I think it would be easier to refurbish the facility than start from scratch elsewhere.

Because of the age of this location, there isn't a lot of official documentation that I have been able to find online.  Even the name of the base is a little up in the air.  From my understanding it was referred to as Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy-54; the standard naming convention was to name the base after the closest inhabited area, and tag on the last two digits of the postal code.  Some refer to the base as "Bechevinskaya Bay", but of course that's translated from Russian, so several spelling variations are possible.  A couple of sources have mentioned the unclassified name for the base was "Finval", in some sort of effort to hide the base or at least not talk about it using it's official military name.  I do not believe any nuclear ballistic missiles, or nuclear cruise missiles, were stored there; since I haven't found any mention of this location in any arms control agreements.  I have seen references to nuclear warheads for torpedoes being store there, which makes sense, since there does seem to be a hardened nuclear Weapons Storage Area on site.
The Soviet Navy's 182nd brigade of submarines was stationed here until 1996 when it was moved to Ilyichev bay, then Rybachiy in 2003.  The 182nd was (and I believe still is) made up of Diesel-electric attack submarines; the original Kilo-class SSKs.

Soviet Navy Ensign -Wikipedia
In 1996 when the base was abandoned the following submarines made up the 182nd.

B-394 Project 877 diesel submarine (still operational, in reserve per globalsecurity.org)
http://rusnavy.com/nowadays/strength/submarines/b-394/
B-445 Project 877 diesel submarine (operational per globalsecurity.org)

http://rusnavy.com/nowadays/strength/submarines/b-445/
B-464 “Ust-Kamchatsk” Project 877 diesel submarine (possibly operational per globalsecurity.org)
http://rusnavy.com/nowadays/strength/submarines/ust-kamchatsk/
B-494 “Ust-Bolsheretsk” Project 877 diesel submarine (operational per globalsecurity.org)
http://rusnavy.com/nowadays/strength/submarines/ust-bolsheretsk/

In 1971, when the 182nd was moved to Bechevinskaya Bay, the brigade was composed of 12 submarines

B-8 Project 641 (Foxtrot-Class) (decommissioned 1990)
B-15 Project 641 (Foxtrot-Class) (decommissioned 1992)
B-28 Project 641 (Foxtrot-Class) (decommissioned 1993)
B-33 Project 641 (Foxtrot-Class) (decommissioned 1991)
B-39 Project 641 (Foxtrot-Class) (decommissioned 1994)
B-50 Project 641 (Foxtrot-Class) (decommissioned 1992)
B-112 Project 641 (Foxtrot-Class) (decommissioned 1990)
B-135 Project 641 (Foxtrot-Class) (decommissioned 1977)
B-397 Project 641 (Foxtrot-Class) (decommissioned 1993)
B-855 Project 641 (Foxtrot-Class) (decommissioned 1992)
S-73 Project 640 (modified Whiskey-Сlass) Radar Picket Submarine (decommissioned 1978)
S-310 Project 690 (Bravo-Class) (decommissioned 1998)

I copied the following photos from http://www.tema.ru/eng/travel/bechevinka/ ; They were taken From September 17th-19th 2009.  I think they give a good idea how much of the base is still intact, and to what degree.

































The following pictures were grabbed from http://ru-abandoned.livejournal.com/903594.html and were taken in August 2010.





















































































video
Departure of Авачи from the pier. Taken: July 1993. Credit: А. Лунин



Reference:
http://www.admiraltytrilogy.com/read/OOB%20%20of%20The%20Russian%20Fleet.pdf
http://co-a.com/en/coa/abandoned-base-of-the-russian-navy-petropavlovsk-kamchatskiy-54-bay-finval-or-bechevinskaya-photo-video.html
http://www.podlodka.su/06/Garnizons/Garn_04/garn_txt_04_04.php
http://www.podlodka.su/06/Garnizons/Garn_04/finval_photo.php
http://www.esosedi.ru/onmap/poselok_bechevinka/3749476/index.html
http://www.yaplakal.com/forum2/topic1006808.html
http://russianforces.org/blog/2016/02/soviet_and_russian_submarines.shtml
http://travelingluck.com/Europe/Russia/Kamchatskaya+Oblast'/_2126801_Bukhta+Bechevinskaya.html
http://www.welcometorussia.com/en/sights/494/view



2 comments:

  1. WOW! That's some heavy information that you have dug up. Ok, that being said, this has to be one of the most beautiful sights in Russia.

    ReplyDelete
  2. No one uses the word USSR anymore, you can easily find it in history, and these places are so beautiful, its sad to see the were not given the importanct it needed. It also should remind its people of their tragic end.

    ReplyDelete