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Tunnel Vision #6: Abandoned Submarine Base in Balaklava, Ukraine

The Cold War left a lot of skeletons in its closet such as this hush-hush underground nuclear submarine base at Balaklava Bay, Ukraine.

The sea-scoured passageways were still in use after the fall of the USSR 1991 right up until 1993 when the decommissioning process began. Vessels, torpedoes and nuclear warheads were slowly removed and the last Russian submarine sailed out of Balaklava Bay in 1996.

 

The entire underground complex with powerful locking and life support is perhaps the world’s only historical monument of engineering art of the Cold War. Pic TOPO
The entire underground complex with powerful locking and life support is perhaps the world’s only historical monument of engineering art of the Cold War. Pic TOPO

 

For a long time the complex lay abandoned. Much of it was unguarded, and forgotten while remnants of metal trusses and machinery rusted away in the sea salt. Later, in 2000, the Russian Federation gifted the abandoned naval base to the Ukrainian Navy. It is now a museum.

Pic: Flikr/Thomas Alboth
Pic: Flikr/Thomas Alboth

 

Officially called the Balaklava Naval Museum Complex in 2002, the museum is open to the public for visits to view the forbidding 600m water-logged central tunnel as well as the weapons plant and the nuclear storage arsenal. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, the ominous caverns loom in the eerie, cold light as a grim reminder of the lethal secrets that went on behind the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain.

Warehouse storage for missiles, nuclear weapons and several million tons of fuel. Caption and Pic: TOPO
Warehouse storage for missiles, nuclear weapons and several million tons of fuel. Caption and Pic: TOPO

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