Russian Daily News Information Service

The Russian Navy abandoned 22 submarines in the Baltic republics

Many Western museums have Soviet submarines among their exhibits. When perestroika began, Russia started to trade even in things traditionally esteemed as relics, which also included the Russian naval fleet. Russia often sold ships during removal of army bases from former Baltic republics.

The Navy had to sell vessels because of nonpayment of wages and a desire to keep the core of it's fleet seaworthy. As a result, ships were often sold at a cheaper price than scrap metal; Swedish and German ferryboats transported many of Russian ships away from Russia. But still many ships remained deserted waterlogged in bays and harbours. In the army harbour of the Latvian city of Liepaja, the Russian fleet left over 40 battleships and three submarines, and a floating dock remained in the harbour of Bolderai in Riga. The neglected vessels were the reason why the authorities of the Baltic countries reproached Russia of "deliberate pollution of the European environment."

But as it turned out later, Russia had no schemes to cause harm to the Baltic republics at all. In fact, removal of the Russian troops from the Baltic republics revealed absolute chaos and disorganization in the Russian army. Indeed, a thrifty owner would have seized every opportunity to at least dispose of scrap metal. In June 1941, the Soviet Navy abandoned seven submarines in Liepaja when the German troops were advancing. However, it is incredible that in the peaceful conditions of 1994, the Russian Navy abandoned 22 submarines during removal of the Russian forces from the Baltic republics.

In 1941, lieutenant-commander Afanasyev decided to blow up disabled ships so that Germans could not use them, and as a result of the initiative the man was executed by shooting. Was there anyone in the army made responsible for abandoning the Russian squadron in the Baltic republics? In Latvia, the remains of the Baltic Fleet gave birth to a network of companies selling scrap. Coincidentally, it was approximately at the same period that Estonia also became one of the worlds leadering exporters of metal.

People selling Russian vessels abroad did not specify especially for what purpose they must be further used. Often, Russian ships were turned into floating restaurants, bars and even brothels (B-24 was turned into a brothel in Copenhagen). Later, Germans bought the ship to make it a naval museum in Penemuende. Now, after some repairs, the vessel is a key exhibit. B-77, after it was enabled for shooting K-19: The Widowmaker, became a permanent exhibit of the naval museum in Providence, US. Americans swore they would respect the Russian submarine no less than the key exhibit of the museum, the Saratoga aircraft-carrier.

In an interesting twist in the life of a ship designed solely to kill; the B-77 is now not only a museum piece; it is a teaching complex used for scientific conferences and scout gatherings. Newly married couples even walk along the deck of the Soviet rocket carrier believing that it will bring them life long happiness.


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