Object 221

The Balaklava Submarine Base Tour was cool….but there was still a rather sanitised regimented feel about the whole thing.

I wanted to get down and dirty with my Soviet explorations..

Object 221 …..what was slated to eventually become…

The USSR Black Sea Naval Reserve Command Complex..

Some 18km from Balaklava, tucked away and forgotten on a mountainside is the unfinished Black Sea Naval Command Complex. It was reported to have been about 80% completed when the Soviet Union collapsed and the site was subsequently abandoned.

There are no signposts, if you Google it there is only  a few obscure entries regarding its existence….mainly in Russian.

It was always supposed to be secret……and it remains relatively so to this day. Before I left on this trip I emailed the Russian guy who had posted pics on his site called Abandoned Russia which showed military bases and equipment scattered across the former Soviet Union. I asked him for some recommended sites and their GPS coordinates….he put me on to this place.

While driving around the back roads looking for some sign of it I came across Nicolai and Artim who spend their time restoring WWII era Russian GAZ military jeeps!…they were quite interested in the truck…..very cool was the final verdict.



I finally found the outskirts of the complex…..


The road had been thoroughly blocked so I made my way on foot up the hill……


From the valley floor the installation was supposed to look like a collection of the usual anonymous government–type buildings spread across the mountain side.

The largest building was the Administration block…..


There are building of various sizes scattered around the site….



…there are several large flat accessible ‘parking areas’ flanking the main thoroughfare


Further up the winding access road……

A gatehouse checkpoint…….


This was probably a vehicle pool/garage


Still higher……past some massive concrete retaining walls…


Then, about 200metres from the summit I round a bend and come across the building at the highest elevation and only just visible in the distance from the valley floor…..



The building is a simple yet vast concrete block….with the windows, which are visible from the valley, simply painted on the exterior so it looks like a normal building…..


Moving further inside the scale and purpose of the complex becomes apparent……




This was to be the command bunker complex for Soviet Black Sea Naval Operations in the case of nuclear conflict.

With the mountain protecting the flank and views that command the valley in its entirety, the ‘parking areas’ with their massive foundations begin to look more like launch sites for mobile Surface to Air missile launchers and anti aircraft batteries…….


Inside a tunnel which could easily accommodate….


a Russian Kamaz military transport….


….bore deep inside the mountain…..

At certain intervals there are sally-port entrances where one wouldn’t be able to pass until the door behind was secured….possibly as air-locks to prevent contamination.


These hinges are similar to the ones on the nuclear blast doors in the submarine base at Balaklava….


There is a sub floor basement running below the floor for water/power/communication systems.


The tunnel complex has various ante-rooms off the main thoroughfare.


The deeper I venture the tunnel starts to split in various directions….in all I come to 9 different forks in the tunnel….with each new tunnel spawning further forks and further tunnels.



Some angle downwards or upwards to various level…..


It was becoming rather disorientating in the pitch black, with the temperature dropping the further I went…..

Finally after over 1000metres I came to the end of construction of the tunnel I was in……


Soviet gas mask hanging on the wall……


As I rounded a corner to another fork in the tunnel, ready to retrace my route I noticed there was the faintest pinprick of light at the end of the tunnel about 400 metres away……


Upon investigating I came to an entrance which had been purposely blocked up…….


And as I walked past and around a few more corners I came out into the blinding sunlight……


In front of the huge concrete bunker……

…but not the same one I entered!

As I walked back over the hill some 800 metres I came back to the first bunker entrance…just like the submarine base in Balaklava the complex burrows deep under the mountain in an arc and exits further along the mountainside.


Again, designed to withstand a direct nuclear attack I think this complex and the Balaklava submarine base indicates much regarding the military posture of the USSR even as late as 1989 when construction here was halted…..

Both designed to survive a direct nuclear attack, the submarine base was designed to protect existing subs rather than build more submarines and the Command Complex being built to such fortified standards as recently as the late 1980’s shows the fear of nuclear conflict that the USSR was operating under.

It would be fair to say that the US had completed its nuclear-proof installations in the 1960’s directly after the Cuban missile crisis. That the Soviets were constructing defensive installations like this in the 1980’s is extraordinary…they apparently perceived the US, NATO, and ‘the West’ as a direct nuclear threat right up to the collapse of the system in 1991.

Hardly seems like the mindset of an expansionist aggressor state like we in the west were always told?


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