A top-secret seaport in Kamchatka, home to some of Russia’s most-valuable attack and strategic submarines, is getting a major upgrade of its facilities. Massive 50-meter-high moles will make it more efficient and defensible.
Vilyuchinsk is a small city in Russia’s Far-Eastern region of Kamchatka located just 20 km from the provincial capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. The location of both cities was chosen for the large bay that shields docked ships from violent storms blowing in from the Pacific Ocean.
The military Vilyuchinsk has the extra benefit of having direct access to deep oceanic waters that allow submarines to sneak in and out, which is exactly why it was created in the 1970s, as a major center of building and servicing the Soviet underwater fleet – a counterpart to San Diego in the US.
Now the Russian base is receiving a major upgrade of its infrastructure, which will make it a better defended and a more efficient base for the Pacific Navy’s fleet of attack and strategic submarines.
The work is not unlike the refurbishment carried out in Novorossiysk, the port on the Black Sea where a large area of open water was allocated for a fortified naval base. The massive project started in 2005 and includes two breakwaters that measure 850 meters and 1,400 meters respectively, numerous pierces and a specialized mini-bay for submarines.
The breakwaters alone are gargantuan structures going as far as 50 meters deep into the seabed, shielding the warships from storms and possible saboteurs as well as running all communications for refuelling, re-arming, and servicing the warships.
According to Izvestia newspaper, the structures currently being built in Kamchatka are designed along the same lines. The first phase will include a breakwater and a pier. The upgrade will help the port accommodate future Borei-A class strategic submarines, two of which are slated to be added to the Pacific Fleet, as well as Yasen-class attack submarines and other valuable assets.
While apparently costly, the upgrade will not, it seems, be as formidable as the underground submarine base in Balaklava near Sevastopol, the home port of Russia’s Black Sea fleet. That facility was secretly dug under a mountain with the goal of withstanding a direct nuclear bombing. That site is no longer operational and today serves as a Cold War museum.