Military Review

Black Sea Shipyard: aircraft carriers and espionage

The construction of aircraft carriers took place with an increased level of secrecy, which was not at all surprising in those years. The issues of maintaining military and state secrets in the Soviet Union were taken extremely seriously. In addition, Nikolaev was a closed city, where foreign citizens were forbidden to enter. Of course, the potential adversary in the person of the United States and other NATO countries was curious about the appearance in the Soviet fleet aircraft carriers and the place where they are built.

Black Sea Shipyard: aircraft carriers and espionage

The image of the "zero" stocks ChSZ. Photos from the spy satellite KH-11

Western specialized publications, such as the famous British reference book, the annual Jane's Fighting Ships or the Soviet Military Power almanac, published on their pages sketches of promising aircraft-carrying Soviet ships and photographs of those already in the ranks. Technical and electronic intelligence by both sides of the confrontation was carried out on an ongoing basis, and "photo shoots" of the ships of the Navy of the USSR and the NATO countries were carried out mutually. Anti-submarine helicopters "Moscow" and "Leningrad", heavy anti-submarine cruisers of the 1143 project regularly appeared on the pages of specialized Western literature.

Of course, the Soviet side was well aware of the content of reference books, books and magazines published abroad, since this kind of literature was written and carefully studied. The Black Sea Shipyard had an extensive technical library, which also regularly received foreign publications. However, access to them was limited: it was believed that there was provided “secret” information.

A page from the Jane's Fighting Ships for 1984.

This fact concealed a certain amount of absurdity: the information presented in foreign publications about Soviet ships, the development of military shipbuilding and its prospects in the USSR was of a completely open nature - in the West anyone could read it. Moreover, in the countries that are potential allies of the Soviet Union — Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the GDR — magazines and books devoted to various weapons, including Soviet weapons, were regularly published, indicating its tactical and technical characteristics.

In Nikolaev itself, where, despite its closed status, almost half of the population was somehow connected with the shipbuilding industry, they were well aware of which ships were being built at the Black Sea shipbuilding plant. The word "aircraft carrier" was extended at the household level, while at the official level, the official "heavy aircraft carrying cruiser" sounded. At meetings of the highest level, when the director of the Black Sea Plant, Yuri Ivanovich Makarov, called the ship being built at his factory, an "aircraft carrier", he was corrected every time.

Such an approach to secrecy according to the method of Monsieur Polichinel only discredited the attitude to real military and technological secrets. Therefore, when the era of friendship with the West came, simply streams of the most secret and truly valuable documentation poured in — not only because of outright treachery, but also because of the completely depreciated and careless attitude to their own wealth. Was it worth it, for example, with respect to planes adopted at the beginning of Khrushchev’s rule, to write faceless “multi-role fighter” in mass magazines so that in 90-s for all exchanges to pass on “sworn friends” all the documentation on promising Yak-141? All this will be later, but for now the Black Sea Shipbuilding Plant built aircraft carriers and its shore secrets.

At the beginning of the 1980's In the western editions (reference book “Jane's Fighting Ships” and the almanac “Soviet military power”) photographs appeared that captured the territory of the Black Sea plant with ships under construction and being completed. This caused some resonance in the Soviet leadership. During the next working visit to Moscow, the director of the enterprise, Yuri Ivanovich Makarov, was shown photos of the shipbuilding building and was asked to explain at what time interval they were taken - this could be determined by the position of sections and blocks. Makarov was an excellent specialist who was constantly on the stocks and could date the pictures almost to the day.

Photo of the "zero" stocks of ChSZ with the hull of the heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser "Riga"

Since the images had good clarity and quality, those instances that followed should have a legitimate concern. In his book, The Aircraft Carrier, Yuri Ivanovich tells how some people in the State Security Committee suggested that photographs that did not get tired of typing and reprinting Western publications with a high flying airplane. Such an assumption seemed absurd: Nikolaev as an important concentration of industry of strategic importance, and as a city entering the first hundred targets for hitting nuclear weapons in the event of war, was well covered by anti-aircraft defense.

Specialists from the Academy of Sciences of the USSR were connected as experts in determining the “authorship” of the pictures. It was carried out painstaking research work. Knowing exactly the size of the huge 900-ton cranes over the “zero” slipway and their distortion in the photographs, the scientists determined that the two images under consideration were taken from the Odessa region and from the Kharkov region from a height of about 600 and 400 kilometers. Undoubtedly, the talk was about the use of spacecraft for reconnaissance purposes.

The idea of ​​using spacecraft - satellites began to be widely discussed in the USA at the end of the 50s. The power of the Soviet air defense has increased significantly. Flights of reconnaissance aircraft, even such high-tech ones as the famous U-2, became unsafe, which was fully confirmed in the incident with the downed pilot Francis Gary Powers, whose U-2 was shot down in the Sverdlovsk 1 area in May 1960 of the year. This only increased attention to the program of developing a space reconnaissance satellite, which was launched on February 7 by President Dwight Eisenhower.

This program, the brainchild of the Central Intelligence Agency, was called the Crown (CORONA). It envisaged the creation and launch into Earth orbit of special spacecraft equipped with powerful cameras for conducting reconnaissance of objects in the territory of the USSR, the PRC and other countries, including even the formally allied United States Kuomintang Taiwan. The captured film in a special descent container was supposed to carry out a parachute landing.

The program, despite the attraction of significant resources, progressed heavily and intensely. The first 12 launches were unsuccessful for one reason or another. Only 18 August 1960, the first satellite of the program "Crown" was finally able to put into orbit. His flight lasted about a day, and then the descent capsule was intercepted by a special C-130 transport aircraft. If for some reason the plane could not complete its mission, the navy ship had to pick up the capsule. In order to avoid the danger of falling into the wrong hands, the capsules self-flooded over time.

Aircraft C-119 (Flying Boxcar - "Flying freight car"), intercepting the capsule descent from the satellite

The results of the first flight instilled genuine optimism into CIA specialists: the efficiency of the Korona satellite, which was named KN-1 (Keyhole - “keyhole”), turned out to be much more effective than the reconnaissance flight of the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft; or the threat of being shot down - an unsuccessful end of the pilot’s mission to power the project only.

Space espionage under the Crown program was carried out up to 1972. During this time, the reconnaissance photographic equipment made a significant leap in its development: if the resolution of the KH-1 camera was 8 – 12 meters, then similar characteristics of subsequent samples could be brought to 1,8 – 2,75 meters . Thanks to the “Crown” program, the intelligence and military bodies of the United States obtained crucial information, including the approximate number of intercontinental ballistic missiles available to the USSR. This information has allowed Americans to hold out a bit more confidently in the days of the Caribbean crisis.

The successes achieved by reconnaissance satellites, expectedly pushed the United States to further develop space reconnaissance programs in relation to the Soviet Union, China and other countries. A new project was launched, which received the code designation “Hexagon”, according to which it was planned to launch much more advanced technically satellites that could carry out shooting with 30 – 60 resolution, see

Before 1984, when the Hexagon program was completed, 18 satellites were launched. Unlike its predecessors, the new space reconnaissance aircraft did not require a descent capsule and a rather complicated procedure for its capture. Due to significant technical progress, 19 December 1976 was launched apparatus KH-11, equipped with an optical-electronic digital camera and capable of using electronic signals to transmit the footage to a communication satellite, which was located in a higher orbit, and in turn transmitted information to the ground.

Interested US agencies gained access to up-to-date intelligence in near real-time. The Crown and Hexagon programs were conducted in an atmosphere of heightened secrecy, but a complete curtain of secrecy was not achieved. Leaks began, and in the first place unauthorized. The first known occurred in the 1980 year. After the failed operation “Desert One” (Desert One) to free American diplomats who were taken hostage in Tehran, high-resolution images of the Iranian capital were found at the place of evacuation of American special forces fighters from the desert.

1984 was also rich in spy revelations. First, a photograph of a Soviet bomber standing at the airbase landed in the collection “Hearings in the US Congress”. Then the American expert and analyst of the Navy Samuel Loring Morison handed over to the publishing house of the famous Jane's Defense Weekly all the same KN-11 panoramic images of the high quality of the shipbuilding complex of the Black Sea Plant, where they could clearly see not only the huge KONE cranes of Finnish production, but also heavy aircraft carrying cruisers, which were under construction and completion From there, the pictures of ChSZ began to wander for various reference and specialized publications.

The publication of such materials has caused a resonance in the Soviet leadership and turmoil in the West. Morison was quickly put into circulation, incriminating him not only criminal negligence, but also the disclosure of secrets of state importance. In the 1985 year (when in the USSR the nature of an unexpected photo shoot ”which was built in the construction of the newest heavy aircraft carrier of the 11435 project had long been discovered), an expert analyst who decided to share photographic materials with publishers was sentenced to 5 years after the trial.

Pictures of the Black Sea plant were carried out from the board KH-11. The promulgation of images of the secret state program of space espionage caused a scandal in the relevant US authorities. However, at the trial against Morison, the public prosecutor was forced to swallow the fact that even before the publication of the pictures of the Black Sea Plant, the collection “Listening to cases in Congress” saw the light, where photographs of Soviet fighters appeared. At that time, the traditionally “tiny” defense budget was discussed, and the pictures of the aircraft of the recently proclaimed “Evil Empire” should have been in the hands of the right people to become an argument for additional funds.

The prosecution took into account such an annoying fact of leakage in the press of the US Congress - it was decided to assume that the photos were published "by mistake". The materials on the intelligence programs "Crown" and "Hexagon" were declassified only during the presidency of Bill Clinton in 1996.

The director of the Black Sea Plant, Yury Ivanovich Makarov, received not only open sources of popular science content, but also prepared and translated Western analysts. Abroad, we watched very closely the growth of the power of the Soviet Navy, considering that by the beginning of the 80s. he had achieved unprecedented military power and capabilities for continental Russia. The high technological equipment of shipyards and, in particular, the Black Sea Plant, was noted, where, thanks to the introduction of new techniques, high rates of ship building berths were achieved. And on the stocks number "0" meanwhile, the first Soviet classic aircraft carrier of the 1143.5 project was being built.

1143.5 aircraft carriers at CSY

By the beginning of the 1980's. The Black Sea Shipyard occupied one of the leading places in the shipbuilding industry of the Soviet Union. In the second half of 70, the company carried out a fundamental modernization of all its technological components. The capacity of the building complex has significantly expanded and increased due to the installation and installation of two 900-ton cranes of Finnish production. New workshops were created and substantially upgraded. At the plant a wide stream of new equipment went. A complete reconstruction of the existing moorings has been carried out and a new outbuilding embankment has been erected. The bottom is deep, and the corresponding communications are summed up.

The shipbuilding giant was ready to master the production of new warships - the heavy aircraft-carrying cruisers of the 1143.5 project, for the construction of which such modernization was carried out. The previous time, the Black Sea Plant underwent a similar large-scale procedure at the end of the 1930s, preparing for the construction of battleships of the 23 project.

To be continued ...
Articles from this series:
CSY: rolls of the project "Atlantic"
ChSZ: military weekdays of dry-cargo ships of the Nikolaev construction
CSY: reconstruction of the plant and the transition to large-block assembly. TAKR "Baku"
CSY: the development of heavy aircraft-carrying cruisers. "Minsk" and "Novorossiysk"
CSY: TAKR "Kiev"
CSY: research vessel "Akademik Sergey Korolev"
CSY: whalers and anti-submarine cruisers
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  1. svp67
    svp67 25 December 2017 15: 52
    A good and interesting article, and written easily, which is also valuable. Moreover, the material is VERY interesting.
    A “bird” that drank a lot of “blood” for us ... With us, its analogue didn’t appear very soon ...
    And at the expense of secrecy, it is recalled that when our first nuclear submarine was launched in the North, the Chekists dispersed all "onlookers" and sentenced: "Citizens, well, there’s nothing to be here. Let’s think they’re launching the first atomic submarine in the Union ...."
    1. papas-57
      papas-57 26 December 2017 17: 20
      There is an interesting book about air espionage: Schreyer. B. - An eye screwed into the sky. Chronicle of air espionage. 1974 Publisher: Progress
    2. Serg koma
      Serg koma 2 January 2018 20: 03
      Quote: svp67
      at the expense of secrecy, remember

      The comrade worked in the design bureau of the space-oriented plant. All the huge windows of the case were sealed with a "mirror" film (to "get" it into gluing windows in the apartment was considered a success wassat ), it was forbidden to open windows - they were so afraid of Merikosov’s satellites. Actively (in the team) the information was moving forward: the satellite through the window can take a picture of a kulman with drawings where you can see all the details of the electrical circuit !!
  2. Conductor
    Conductor 25 December 2017 16: 22
    Good article, thanks. But secrecy is yes, there was a mother do not worry. PI secret until the early 60s
  3. Some kind of compote
    Some kind of compote 25 December 2017 16: 23
    Here's how ...
    Article info is new to me
    Interesting and thanks
  4. sd68
    sd68 25 December 2017 16: 40
    About the "promising Yak-141" is a direct religious belief in RuNet.
    Why did they get the idea that he is "promising"?
    He failed the test, his multi-engine scheme has shown its futility repeatedly, both in the USSR and abroad.
    Yakovlev himself was sure that the VTOL aircraft should be only single-engine, the Yak-38 was dragged behind him, an unprecedented incident.
    They began to make the Yak-41 as a single-engine, but could not, in fact, the Yak-141 was sculpted according to a known failure scheme, which was confirmed by testing.
    After a brief conversation with the Yakovlevites, the Americans were convinced that the Yak-141 was unpromising, nobody needed, and repeated the American and French developments of the 60s and early 70s, which were rejected at different stages due to the inherent instability of take-off and landing characteristics .
    Harrier, the only successful VTOL aircraft at that time, was made according to a completely different, single-engine scheme, in which the front of the aircraft was raised with compressed air, and not with the help of PD, as in the Yak38 and 141, and even earlier in the Mirage 3 or Conveyor model 200.
    1. Dalailama
      Dalailama 26 December 2017 20: 29
      The front part rose and the back painted remained on the ground
      Oh, how bad that the Chinese with their J-26 know nothing about it.
      your whistle?
      1. sd68
        sd68 27 December 2017 00: 52
        and what, the J-26 is mass-produced and proven to be effective?
        The car already had such developments. Not to mention that you can only believe in Chinese inventions when you feel, and if you believe the Karpenko bastion, you can only guess about such an aircraft at A flying prototype is not a problem, only a long distance from it to a successful production model.
        Until today, not a single aircraft according to this scheme, starting with Mirage 3 of the 60s of the last century, has shown its effectiveness, only Yak-38 was serially produced, but even that one proved its complete unsuitability.
        That's when the Chinese will do something and start selling, then it will be clear whether they were able to do it.
        A link article is not mine, and in fact there is nothing there.
        and about the front part rose, and the rear remained on the deck, so this is about the first landing of the Yak-141 on the deck, the plane lifted its nose in pitch and rested its tail on Gorshkov’s deck.
        Neither Harrier nor the F-35 can have this in principle, the engine is one ....
        1. Dalailama
          Dalailama 27 December 2017 04: 00
          It was about a painted model 200. The supersonic Yak-141 successfully flew off at two international salons a quarter of a century ago, the F-35B cautiously got there only last year and after 9 years of production, which indicates problems in production cars.
          Follow the link to your comments back, your friends are waiting for you there.
          1. sd68
            sd68 28 December 2017 01: 27
            and the Mirage flew off in due time, and what?
            Yak141 crashed into trials, you can’t imagine a successful one.
            Performance at the salons is the usual window dressing.
            A f-35 is mass-produced, combat pilots fly, and not a single one crashed.
            Do you understand the difference?
            Or will you also be from the sect of witnesses yak141? :)
          2. sd68
            sd68 28 December 2017 01: 43
            As for 200, maybe his engines were by no means paper, but quite real.
            Another thing is that after blowing up the mock-ups, Americans may take 200, took into account the Mirage3 experience and came to the conclusion that the scheme is not viable.
            After a quarter of a century, the Yakovlevites needed a failed Yak-38 and a broken Yak-141 in trials to reach this conclusion.
            But in RuNet it still does not reach many.
            They have Yak-141 still "promising"
            1. Dalailama
              Dalailama 28 December 2017 03: 32
              At the salons show the best. The mirage (similar to the MiG-23PD, right?) Did not fly off and it was impractical. The Americans took into account due to failure with engines for 200. Harrier crashed in the tests of 2 pcs. The F-35B also already had a technical accident. Harriers killed more pilots than the Yaks. The successful racial-faithful Harrier was inferior to the serial Yak-38 at maximum speed as the P-51 Mustang jet missile. All of this has already been explained to you by that link at the top of the Yakovlevites, you washed away without answering from there and began to sow the former here.
              please come back and, after reading the first comment, continue there.
              Not from the sect of clown witnesses drawn model 200 and successful F35.
  5. Aviator_
    Aviator_ 25 December 2017 19: 19
    Good info, respect to the author. For my part, about "secrecy" I can add that in the late 70's - early 80's it reached such insanity: in the magazines "Aviation Week", "Flight" and the like, the bureau of scientific and technical information of the office, where I then worked, deleted (scissored) articles on military equipment of the USSR. Staff were provided with tattered magazines.
  6. Old26
    Old26 25 December 2017 19: 36
    Thank you for the article. The very development of the Keyhole program (KH type satellites) is material for a separate article, or maybe not just one.

    As for Western publications, such as Jane's Fighting Ships (and other versions of Jane) - it was always interesting to read these materials. There, not only, as the author writes, sketched drawings of promising aircraft carriers of Soviet ships and photographs of those that were already in operation, but also generally sketched drawings of ships under construction. Sometimes there were "mistakes", but mistakes are quite interesting. And most importantly, in these directories everything was systematized. Although they did not know the number of projects, they either used the well-known names of our projects or gave their own. And this in an era of total secrecy of everything and everything was most interesting.
    I will give three examples of the outline designs of the ships published in the same reference book “Jane's Fighting Ships”
    This is the destroyer of project 956 "Modern", this is the nuclear cruiser of project 1144 and finally it is the TAKR, which later became the "Admiral Kuznetsov"

    1. The destroyer. Before the first building was launched and went into operation he was considered a light cruiser of the KIROV type. believed that he had guns of caliber 180 mm. Subsequently, the name "KIROV" in these directories already corresponded to atomic cruisers.

    2. The nuclear cruiser. In reference books, he originally had the designation "Soviet Union". And only then became "Kirov"

    3. Aircraft carriers. Here is the fun part. There was no information about what kind of aircraft carriers this was, but in fact three were laid in a row - Kuznetsov, Varyag, Ulyanovsk. Everyone had the code designation KREMLIN and analysts believed that the USSR was going to build about a dozen and a half dozen such ships. They even gave them approximate names (attracted specialists from historians). The names were given by the name of the cities in the USSR where the Kremlin were as architectural attractions.

    Of course, the initial sketching drawings did not resemble the ships that appeared later.
  7. akm8226
    akm8226 25 December 2017 20: 52
    Do not believe it - I worked at this plant as a turner, before the army, in 1972-73. Shop 51, beginning Shop Slavs Nikitich Nesterov.
  8. ecologer
    ecologer 25 December 2017 20: 54
    The correct title of the article is "All delay @ no, to be continued."
  9. Old26
    Old26 25 December 2017 22: 47
    Quote: Aviator_
    Good info, respect to the author. For my part, about "secrecy" I can add that in the late 70's - early 80's it reached such insanity: in the magazines "Aviation Week", "Flight" and the like, the bureau of scientific and technical information of the office, where I then worked, deleted (scissored) articles on military equipment of the USSR. Staff were provided with tattered magazines.

    I was lucky that in the system where I worked at least did not go down to cutting pages. The magazines came in a “photocopied” black and white version, so there were simply no articles. They disappeared. And the nonsense was complete with secrecy. Long talk, but it was
  10. Professor
    Professor 26 December 2017 04: 59
    The invented secrecy of the scoop is worthy of many books. From personal experience: during a visit to ChSZ and, in particular, to the zero slipway (study tour to ChSZ), we asked the “teacher” what kind of ship they were building. “Tanker,” he lied without batting an eye at the sailors. laughing
    Particularly impressed with the thickness of the sheets of the armored belt of the tanker hangar. By the way, from the opposite shore, the zero slipway was in full view and there was no need for any satellites.
  11. kvs207
    kvs207 26 December 2017 07: 13
    "Moreover, in countries that are potential allies of the Soviet Union - Poland, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic - magazines and books devoted to various weapons, including Soviet ones, were regularly published, indicating its tactical and technical characteristics."

    I was very surprised at one time when I saw a drawing of the TACR Kirov with the main performance characteristics in the Gadaera Marinekalendar for the 85th year.
  12. Servisinzhener
    Servisinzhener 26 December 2017 16: 15
    Here, too, there are people with similar ideals of secrecy.
  13. Old26
    Old26 26 December 2017 17: 56
    Quote: kvs207
    "Moreover, in countries that are potential allies of the Soviet Union - Poland, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic - magazines and books devoted to various weapons, including Soviet ones, were regularly published, indicating its tactical and technical characteristics."

    I was very surprised at one time when I saw a drawing of the TACR Kirov with the main performance characteristics in the Gadaera Marinekalendar for the 85th year.

    Yes, Poles and Germans issued their publications. The Germans are not only Marinenkalandar, but EMNIP is also Flugerkalandar. and the Poles did not lag behind. Everyone except us. We had grave silence in this regard
  14. Old26
    Old26 26 December 2017 21: 06
    Quote: Servisinzhener
    Here, too, there are people with similar ideals of secrecy.

    Secrecy in itself does not carry anything bad. Worse, if you start to tighten the nuts and what openly suddenly begins to present as something terribly secret. And there were distortions. Sometimes it came to idiocy, but what to do. It was.
    During my work in one of the design bureaus I prepared a report for the management. Accordingly, "SS, Instance is the only one." The report report was pages 25-30. In addition to my report, there was nothing else in the case. Somehow I come to the first department and ask for this matter. And they tell me - you are not included in the list of those who are admitted. Absolute idiocy - I am the author and "no matter"
  15. polkovnik manuch
    polkovnik manuch 1 January 2018 09: 45
    The article is very good, but what kind of secrecy can we talk about if specialists hunt mainly for “mice”, while “foxes” talk about secrets and share them at all levels of communication with “colleagues”. And the notorious "without a hitch" - like "maybe ....", is an excuse for the authorities.
  16. NF68
    NF68 21 January 2018 21: 03
    Spies there are spies here.