The incomplete Submarine Shelter Pavlovskoe, formerly known as “secret object no.6,” stands deserted on the coast of Peter the Great Bay in the Primorye Region of Russia. The concrete structure with its semi-circular arches harks back to the times of the Cold War when the Soviet Union and the USA were engaged in a nuclear arms race.
It was intended as a submarine base for the Pacific Fleet and is situated 19 kilometers from Nahodka, one of the port towns of the region. It is located within a base of both the Ministry of Defence and the Pacific Fleet.
The History of Pacific Submarine Fleet Nuclear Shelter
In March, 1941 it was observed that Pavlovsk Bay was apparently being used as a destroyer operating base; at the same time, much activity was seen on Askold Island south of Strelok Bay and that there was a destroyer operating base or dock in Nayezhdik Bay on its southern shore. Askold Island was believed to be heavily fortified with coast artillery emplacements. The naval base “Strelok” was the beginning of a new period in the development of the Pacific Fleet’s basing system, which has systematically turned into a powerful nuclear missile group of the Soviet Navy. The new base was subsequently named the Strelok Naval Base after the name of the strait between the island and the mainland on the way to the base.
Before construction began, the industrial base was built first, and then, on its basis, the construction of the main facilities was started. The industrial base at that time was simply gorgeous. A precast concrete plant, stone and sand quarries, mechanization base, motor depot, roads, and railways. The construction of the new naval base was quite successful, two years after its start the first ships arrived. By the end of 1957, a new naval association was organized, which was called the Strelok Naval Base.
Shelters for submarines of the Pacific Fleet are based at Pavlovsk. According to unconfirmed information, the beginning of the construction of the facility was in the 1960s. In the 1980s, construction began to lose its pace, the shelter remained unfinished. Judging by the condition, all concrete work was completed, it remained only to do the interior decoration and fill the interior.
Construction work started to slow down in the 1980s due to a lack of funds and it was finally brought to a halt when the Soviet Union collapsed. A significant factor in the discontinuation of construction efforts was START I, the first of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties between the Soviet Union and the USA.
START I was signed on July 31st, 1991, just four months before the Soviet Union collapsed. Its aim was to achieve the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms.
The Soviets were obliged to close the entrances of some of their underground structures to any maritime objects, as well as to stop the building of any such structures. This affected Pavlovskoe, and the shelter remained unfinished even though most of the building work had already been completed.
The Abandoned Pacific Submarine Base Map and Tunnels
The central part of the shelter is 2 parallel tunnels interconnected by aisles. One tunnel is a water channel with a width of 19 meters and a length of 450 meters (according to our measurements, according to satellite measurements, the length is 650 meters), with a height of about 10-12 meters above the water level. The main hall of another tunnel has a length of 225 meters, a width of 8 meters, and a height of about 10-12 meters.
The second tunnel leads into the main hall, which was a space for the main living and working quarters. The main hall is 246 yards long, 9 yards wide, and approximately 12 meters high. In places, stalactite-like icicles hang from the ceiling.
It is hard to tell exactly how large the shelter is as many tunnels have been flooded or blocked off. There are at least 8 entrances and at least 2 ventilation shafts, but there could be more.
Two processing facilities have been constructed to processe the liquid wastes stored in old tankers in Pavlovsk Bay. As of 1997 the fleet was waiting for the Ministry for Nuclear Power to build a storage site for solid radioactive waste, prior to which the solid waste is stored in temporary sites.
In December 1985, the reactor of the nuclear submarine K-431 (Project 675 – Echo-II class) overheated while the vessel was returning to a base outside Vladivostok. It is now laid up at the naval base in Pavlovsk.
Radiation Level at Pacific Submarine Fleet Nuclear Shelter
The shelter is located on the territory of the existing base of nuclear submarines. Access to its territory is prohibited and is guarded by patrols; there is the possibility of using weapons to kill without warning. There are radiation sources on the territory of the military unit; the background radiation is increased.
Radiation levels in the bay are elevated in two locations. The highest levels (over 0.6 mR/hour, with cesium levels three to 12 times ambient levels and cobalt levels seven to 15 times above ambient levels) are near a submarine that, in December 1985, suffered a serious accident in the core, causing coolant from the first circuit to leak into the reactor compartment, which resulted in releases of radiation into the environment for two weeks.
Levels were also elevated near two other submarines with damaged reactors that are now also docked in Pavlovsk Bay: up to 1.4 mGy/hour near K-314, the SSN that caught fire and vented radiation in Chazhma Bay on 10 August 1985, and up to .005 mGy/hour near the other vessel, which suffered an accident in Pavlovsk Bay (date not reported). K-314 continues to be a source of cobalt-60 contamination, while the other submarine is still emitting cesium-137 and strontium-90
How To Reach Pavlovskoye Bay Submarine Shelter
Pavlovsk Bay is the home of the 26th nuclear submarine division, a submarine unit that is part of the Pacific Fleet’s Primorskiy Kray Flotilla, also known as the Fourth Flotilla. The division was formed 40 years ago, and became part of the flotilla in 1978. The flotilla was reduced in size in the mid-90s; in May 2000, the Russian General Staff directed the navy to disband the 26th division.
The exact location of the Pavlovskoye Naval Base is uncertain, but it is presumably at the port of Nakhodka, on Pavlovsk Bay. Nakhodka is a port city is a port city in Primorsky Krai.
- You have to catch a local train from Khabarovsk to Nakhodka every other day in the cold season. In the hot season, they arrive daily;
- Or you may take a flight to Vladivostok (a major transport hub in the Russian Far East).
- You can take public bus No. 601 from Vladivostok to Nakhodka (buses run every 40 min) and the time of travel lasts 4 hours
- From the Nakhodka town, you may order a taxi for 2000-2500 roubles per trip that takes 1-2 hours to Pavlovskoye Bay Submarine Shelter.
Stunning Photos of Pacific Submarine Fleet Nuclear Shelter
Abandoned places always attract travelers with their unique aura. Abandoned buildings are everywhere, including in Russia. Buildings, bridges, churches, factories, and facilities – all have their own history.
If you’d like to see more abandoned places then check out our articles on the Abandoned Palace of Culture named after Lenin 1927 and the Abandoned Komsomolets of Buryatia Russian Minesweeper