Forgotten Soviet Submarine Graveyard on the Kola Peninsula

(All images (unless stated) by submarines.narod.ru, reproduced with permission)

High on the foreboding Kola Peninsula in northwest Russia, within the Arctic Circle, lies an incredible Soviet submarine graveyard near the Russian naval base of Olenya Bay. Attached to the closed town of Gadzhiyevo in Murmansk Oblast, the base represents one of the most bleak naval facilities on the planet, home to abandoned Cold War-era hardware that clings to life – just – in the 21st century.

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The rusting submarine hulks reportedly date back to the 1970s. During that time, shipyards struggling to keep up with large military orders didn’t have the resources to decommission and dismantle older vessels. As a result, some were sunk as targets, while others were towed to nearby Nezametnaya Cove and seemingly forgotten.

 

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Resting semi-submerged in icy water beneath the ruins of several abandoned buildings, the rusting submarines are stark reminders of the vast, brutish Soviet military machine. Their location within the boundaries of a restricted zone accessible only to those with security clearance makes the wrecks little more than contaminated monuments to the collapsed Soviet Union.

(Image: Geocentre Consulting, via Google Earth)

While several abandoned submarines were reportedly scrapped during the 1990s, a 2007 Google Earth image revealed at least seven remaining hulks. Nearby, a rusting crane used to scrap the vessels stands near an abandoned chemical storage warehouse. Amid serious environmental concerns, it’s unclear how long the wrecks will survive the axe – assuming they haven’t yet been scrapped.

Keep reading – explore the incredible Japanese ship graveyard at Truk Lagoon, or visit the mysterious midget submarines of Aberlady Bay.

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  • Samus

    I looked all over Russia after I saw this post. I found countless abandoned shipyards all over the place! It’s absolutely sick.

  • http://twitter.com/GeorgeVessell George Vessell

    Just because there are rusting hulks lying around these shipyards doesn’t mean they have reactor fuel still in the reactors, torpedoes in their tubes or missiles onboard. In case you forget – we have 2 nuclear powered submarines of our own laying on the bottom of the ocean The USS Thresher which was lost in 1963 and the USS Scorpion which went down in 1968. Both went below crush depth and crushed with fueled reactors and torpedoes onboard. Theoretically, they could also contain nuclear weapons in addition to their conventional torpedoes. There have been Soviet nuclear powered and nuclear armed submarines go down that were not recovered. I doubt these rusty submarine hulks pose any nuclear hazards.

  • Duncan Fisher

    Actually, they do pose a nuclear hazard. Norway sent a team down to Russia to take a look at these wrecks out of fear that they may still contain some radioactive waste. The census was that they did in fact pose a grave risk.

    Exactly how much and what kind of risk eludes me. But I’m sure if you hit up Google you’ll find the answer.

  • Duncan Fisher

    Yep! Russia has tons, and I mean TONS of “scrap metal” sitting around. From tanks to APC’s, to planes and ships, submarines and abandoned military complexes, they’ve got it all. Would be fun to spend a month going through Russia checking these things out. :)

  • wawa7

    I t will 70 years before the radioactive material will
    be depleted.

 
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