Are you in the mood to feel like James Bond? Well, here is your chance to play spy games in Ukraine.
10 kilometers from Sevastopol, in the suburb called Balaclava, you can visit a former top-secret underground base, where Soviets used to repair submarines. So called “Объект 825 GТС” is located deep inside a hillside of Balaclava town in the Crimea, Ukraine. In Soviet Union it was a classified submarine base, which became a museum after it closed in 1993.
This strategic site is unique. The base was said to be virtually indestructible and designed to survive a direct atomic impact. The construction of it started in 1957 and ended in 1961 under a personal supervision of Lawrence Beria. According to specialists, the building could withstand a direct nuclear attack like Hiroshima (100 kilotons). Due to this it was given first category of protection. Base is in a hollowed out rock and covered with reinforced concrete with a thickness of 56 meters. In case of a threat of direct nuclear attack it could be hermetically closed by the automatic doors weighing 120 tons and 50 000 people could exist there for 3 years. It had its own bakery, warehouses for storage of food and fuel, also a hospital.
It was capable to accommodate 7 submarines at once and if necessary to repair them in a combined water facility. The depth of it is 8 meters, width 8 to 12 meters, height 18 meters. Total area of all rooms and passages of the plant is 5100sq.m, water surface under the ground 3000sq.m. The length of the channel is 380 meters and the length of the dock – 110 feet.
There were 50 military guards mobilized to protect object from outsiders. Permission to enter Balaclava city was very difficult to get. A special KGB department used to interrogate the very employees that worked in this base. The correct answer was one: “I do not know where I work and I have no idea what am I doing here. I do not remember anything.” Relatives of employees were sworn to silence if they wanted to keep their freedom. During that period, Balaclava was one of the most secret residential areas in the Soviet Union. Even repair men at all times were accompanied by armed soldiers, who used to watch how work is being done. Every minute you spend inside was counted. Many employees had their eye sight damaged due to constant very prompt exit from the object tunnels into the direct sun light.
According to former worker, Sergey Peregorodov, there were several accidents. Two workers were killed and one went crazy after fixing tank whose interior was filled with lead fumes. Sergey often recalls his best friend, who died from electric shock. There were 3 teams of workers, who worked in the separate groups. One team was responsible for warheads and other two for missiles and their assembly.
Out of 400 civilian workers, only 4 had access to all areas. Sergey was one of them. Sergey remembers, how every time a soviet submarine entered dock for repairs, a section where water was emitted was filled with fish. Not to waste a good thing they used to smoke that fish. A particular smoke could be a signal that another Soviet submarine stood in for repair. He bets that spies would have paid big money to know this secret.
Today the submarine base became a branch of Museum of Ukrainian Armed Forces. By the time this base was handed over to the Navy of Ukraine in year 2000, equipment and utilities in the base were badly looted. Everything that could be removed was taken by retreating soviet soldiers. Nowadays you can see thematic expositions designed to preserve chronological order of the naval history of Ukraine. The museum is displayed as the foundation and development of Balaclava and the history of surface and submarine fleets. Also, modern and antique naval armaments are on display in the tunnel, where the nuclear weapons once were stored.
Most residents of Balaclava have negative attitude towards opened museum. Many of them worked at the base and are accustomed to perceive it as non-profit facility that once housed 155 brigades of submarines. Some secret documents are still being held there and will not be shared with outside world for another 50 years to come.
This nice visit of the base is possible thanks to the pictures from Russos.