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Balaklava: Home to the Underground Russian Submarine Base

posted in: Strange  |  posted by: Jennifer Gregory on March 14, 2010  |  6 Comments

Every country has its own set of secrets, especially when it comes to matters pertaining to war. Russia is no different and for years the city of Balaklava was kept secret from the rest of the world. Once serving as a submarine base, the city was kept secret from the rest of the Soviet Union, and the world, for several years.

The Development of the Balaklava Underground Submarine Base


The Russian submarine base was built at Balaklava between the years 1957 and 1961. It was originally designed to be a safe harbor in which the military could bring submarines for repairs and updates to equipment.


Located in the rocks off of the bay at Balaklava, submarines could access the base from both the bay and the sea alike. It took almost 4 years of round the clock work to develop the infrastructures beneath the hill in Balaklava. Beneath the surface is space for more than seven submarines within a 5,000 square foot plant along with a series of workshops, arsenals, offices, roads, and more.

The entire creation, upon completion, had the capacity to shelter up to 10,000 people at a time in the event of a nuclear disaster, from which it was believed to be entirely safe.

Balaklava - former base of soviet submarines

Everyone living in the above-ground residential city of Balaklava was employed by the base. They were allowed to leave to visit friends and family but visiting the city itself was very difficult. Even their closest family members were not allowed into the city without a serious, good reason and even then they still had to have credentials and identification.

The Inner Workings of the Underground Russian Submarine Base


Inside the submarine base were a series of tunnels, many of which could not be detected from the outside. Even from the sea, only the most initiated and trained could find the tunnels allowing entrance to the submarine base. Boats did not surface before entering the base. They remained submerged and were only allowed to surface after the botoport closed behind them. The exit was constructed in a similar manner, requiring boats to submerge before the gate was opened to spit them back into the sea.


Once inside, the submarines were met by a crew of anywhere from 170 to 230 people. They took care of maintaining the docks, recharging ship batteries, refueling, and making sure the submarines had a full supply of fresh drinking water. Another 50 employees spent their days monitoring the inside and outside of the base for safety, stationed near the entrances and exits.

What Else was Hidden in Balaklava?


The underground submarine base at Balaklava housed more than submarines. Lined up next to the tunnels were massive warehouses designed to store nuclear weapons, missiles, torpedoes, artillery, and other forms of ammunition.


Servicemen also found a series of vertical fuel tanks, holding more than 4 thousand tons of petroleum fuel products for the subs as well as a series of workshops dedicated solely to preventative maintenance and repair.

The Underground Russian Submarine Base Today


The underground Russian submarine base remained operational in Balaklava until 1993 and remained a secret up until that point – even after the fall of the Soviet Union. Between 1991 and 1993 the decommissioning process occurred, during which time the warheads, torpedoes, artillery, and submarines left the base.


The last submarine did not leave until 1995. Once it left, the base and city fell under the jurisdiction of the Ukraine and the entire complex beneath the hill was turned over to Ukrainian authorities.


After the last submarine departed the base was opened to the public, allowing them for the first time a glimpse of the canal systems, warehouses, and operations that once existed within the hill. Today, what is left of the factories within the hill exists as a museum – a reminder to all that our world governments do a great job at keeping some very big secrets.

Responses to this Article

6 Responses to “Balaklava: Home to the Underground Russian Submarine Base”

  1. Crimean Tourist says on

    Very interesting article. I really enjoyed visiting Balaklava and Sevastopol. Here is my photo album devoted to Crimea:

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