- What other top officials? - we did not understand. - Who are you here first?
“Well, then,” the sailor was surprised, “don’t you know that Sevastopol is on Naval Day fleet waiting for two presidents: Medvedev and Yanukovych? Everyone has already been put on ears. Behind you, here the Navy commander flies ...
- And what kind of person is he for you: first, second or third?
The sailor was at a loss, not daring to recognize the commander in chief as a third person.
- Well, if the top of the pedestal is busy, we are ready to be fourth. Show us - the fourth power - how are you preparing for the arrival of the first.
So began our press tour to Sevastopol, organized by the Ministry of Defense for the Day of the Navy. The first point of the visit was the only school of divers in the country. She settled in Chersonesos, at the foot of St. Vladimir's Cathedral, where Prince Vladimir was baptized, and then baptized Russia in Kiev.
The chief of the school, captain of the 1 rank Nikolai Sedov, immediately leads us to the tables where the diving equipment is laid out. The eye immediately stumbles upon a huge helmet resembling a film about Captain Nemo.
- Old equipment? - I ask the commander.
“Not new,” he gracefully leaves the direct answer. - But there is no work. - And, pointing to the "suit Nemo", said: - This three-bolt equipment is more than 100 years old, but it is still used.
Nimble TV reporter immediately asked to try on a rarity.
- How much do you weigh? - the officer is interested.
- 57 kg, - the girl coquettishly smiles.
- There is no chance. The weight of this suit is 81,5 kg. He will crush you.
- And if the sailor weighs less than 80 kg, he also can not wear it?
- It can, only on the shore will have to strain the muscles. But after you descend under the water, the suit will become weightless.
- Do you have anything more modern? - I clarify.
“Yes,” the commander replies, pointing at a bright yellow rubber product. But the year of its creation, he still does not name and invites you to go to the water, where they are training divers.
While we go down to the sea, I torture the commander:
- How much do you get a professional contract diver?
- The money allowance of the order of 3,5 is thousands of hryvnas (to convert to rubles, you need to multiply by 3,75) and plus for diving descents. It is on average still 2,5 thousands of hryvnias. Per month goes about 5 – 6 thousand hryvnia. A conscript receives 100 hryvnia.
- And how much do you get?
- I’m getting 8 thousand hryvnia. Multiply by four, it's about 30 thousand rubles.
Meanwhile, the water turns bright action. Against the background of the ships from the depths of the sea appeared six divers. Lighting red torches, they throw them into the water, denoting a safe channel for ships.
“Our annual release of 160 man,” says the officer. - Take zero recruits. They are selected for health and moral and psychological stability. Then a month - a theory, three more - a diving range. Time is short, so education is welcome. Now of those who study with us, 41 is a person with a higher education.
Meanwhile, we are invited to another compartment, where we are preparing to dive almost a whole platoon of divers. At the entrance there hangs a sign: "The place of bathing personnel." From envy to the staff begins to ache in the chest:
- Do you have a chance to swim here for journalists? - I cautiously hint to the officer.
He does not understand the hint and strictly replies:
- Not. But next time we foresee.
Well, it remains to watch under the scorching sun, as the fighters, in threes, descending the ladder, go under water. And for some reason, with Kalashnikov assault rifles at the ready. I wonder what they do with them there? Scare red mullet?
Soon, the fighters climb the ladder with the same triples and, marching in smacking wet bots, line up on the shore:
- Good morning, lord of the seas! - amicably reporting system and starts firing from machine guns.
- Everything is overheated ... What else is the lord of the seas? There is no such title in the fleet.
- Do not be surprised, this is what we are rehearsing for the Day of the Fleet.
Oh, of course: Day of the fleet, holiday, first persons ...
- And who will be your lord of the seas: Medvedev or Yanukovych? - for some reason I am embarrassed by this question officer.
He is silent, apparently assessing whether this issue can be considered politically correct. Then, frowning, grumbling: to us that whoever fails, that will be.
“That's it,” I agree with him. - And to us as well: who will be let down in the next elections will be. Let's better swim?
photo: Olga Bozhyeva
* * *
The next day, according to the plan, we have a meeting with the marines. We are going to the location of a separate brigade, where Lieutenant Colonel Sergey Lovkachev meets us. He answers questions directly, not yulit. About who the potential adversary is for them, firmly declares: NATO, first of all, Turkey.
Says that the contract in terms of 25%, but I would like more. That fighters, as before, go to the guards and outfits in the kitchen, as with outsourcing problems. According to the rules of our Ministry of Defense, only Russian companies can serve the military, but it’s difficult to agree that they work on the territory of Ukraine.
The lieutenant colonel shows the parade ground, the barracks and the bathing place for the soldiers:
- We, by the way, have those who cannot swim. We teach them, but, to be honest, we don’t have time to teach for a year. By the way, a couple of years ago I saw how sailors in Turkey were also taught to swim. It was based on Aksaz Kara-Agach, at international exercises. The Turks put a hundred people on their stomachs, and they imitated swimming first on the shore. Then they were wound up knee-deep in water, then down their necks ...
As marines unable to swim, we saw the same day at the training ground in the Cossack Bay at the exercises, which were led by the brigade commander, Colonel Vladimir Belyavsky - Hero of Russia. It was necessary to work out first the loading of infantry to the ship on armored personnel carriers (BTR), then the landing of troops and the battle on the unequipped coast.
Non-equipped it, however, can be called conditionally. Constructions, houses, apartments for holidaymakers are attacking the boundaries of the landfill, threatening to turn it into an ordinary beach.
The fulfillment of the combat mission began with the large landing ship (BDK) “Caesar Kunikov” withdrew from the raid and, coming almost close to the shore, threw open the nose of the hold.
A column of armored personnel carriers moved from the shore straight into this open mouth. Like a huge whale fish, the ship swallowed the cars one by one, in a few minutes to spit them out of their womb already at the depth, from where they sailed to the shore. Here fighters jumped out of them and launched an offensive against an invisible enemy.
It is symbolic that the battle took place against the backdrop of huge tanks of oil storages, as if reminding us of the true values of modern Russia, which are guarded by today's army.
Clicking the camera, I remember that I had already seen exactly the same picture with the same “Caesar Kunikov”. It was about twenty years ago at the Tuapse training ground. Surprisingly, all the same: states die and are born, values and prices change, and only our army manages to apply all the same methods of warfare, fighting all the same weapons.
But maybe this is our main military trick? No wonder the army so much like to repeat: stability - a sign of skill.
Deep-water Canadian spacesuit, in which you can dive to a depth of 365 m. Photo: Olga Bozhyeva.
* * *
From the Marines, we went to the rescuers. In the light of recent events with the steam ship Bulgaria, this topic seemed especially relevant. Sailors themselves involuntarily returned to it more than once, showing how the captain and crew of the “Bulgaria” should have acted on the emergency vessel.
“I’m in rescuers since 99,” argued the commander of the 37 brigade of rescue ships, captain of the 1 rank, Vladimir Beregovoi, “but I don’t remember that even a year would go without us.” We also help Ukraine well here - her rescue forces are much weaker.
- Help for money?
- No, we are military, we have the principle of co-location.
- And you will save the Turks?
- We will all. On joint maneuvers we work it out. Now one of our ship from the exercises in Norfolk (USA) is returning. Another from Africa is coming, the third in the Gulf of Aden is fighting pirates. And at home there is enough. In the 2008 year, for example, after the November storms in the Black Sea, we lifted 11 sunken ships. Until now, they are all in the ranks. And the tug that saved them, was recently at the exercises with NATO "Bald Monarch-2011".
- What did you do on them?
- Every day there was planned an emergency submarine: lay on the ground, and it had to be rescued. Each ship applied its tactics. Using the rescue bell, we made six docks to NATO submarines, bringing submariners on board.
- How did NATO colleagues seem to you?
- Fine. In the mess, together they drank coffee, Coca-Cola, brandy. On the American ships in the buffets there is always wine, beer. And we are not allowed by the charter. Stash only for guests. In general, the relationship was very friendly. After one incident, they generally considered us heroes. Every day, landing barges transported international observers to the ships. And then somehow the team went into a strong storm: the end of the exercises. People should have been taken away, but all ships refused to sail. Only our Shakhtar walked around the ships, gathered observers and sent them to the shore.
- What do you like most about them?
- New technology. If she is five years old, she’s already considered old. For us, five years is a novelty!
One such novelty we saw on the rescue ship "Epron". It was a diving suit, more like a space suit.
- Our “iron man”, - presented him the captain of 1 rank Damir Shaikhutdinov. - Canadian development. Able to perform work at depths up to 365 m. But, most importantly, the diver inside it is under normal atmospheric pressure. Indeed, after descending 125 meters, the decompression mode can take up to 25 hours. I let down the “iron man”, immediately raised it - and no problems.
We did not see other novelties. The ships in the fleet are mostly old, 50 – 60-ies of the last century. For example, "Epron", where we were taken by rescuers, 1959, built, although by their appearance and can not be said.
Epron is lucky, say sailors. In 1986, one of the countries wanted to buy it. And from 1986 to 1989, at Sevmashzavod, it was actually rebuilt. But then the Union collapsed, the agreements were forgotten, and “Epron” stayed at home. But another, more modern lifeguard "Elbrus" - it was called the Goliath Oceans - was unlucky. He came to the factory in the 90's hard times. He stood there for several years, rusted and was written off.
Such a fate at that time befell many ships. Those that survived, the crews now cherish as a great value, especially since there are unprecedented rarities among them. So, in the combat structure of the Black Sea Fleet there is a rescue ship "Commune" 1915 built. And it still serves, raising the flooded ships.
Preparing school divers to speak at the celebration of the Day of the Navy. Photo: Olga Bozhyeva.
* * *
On the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet - Guards missile cruiser "Moscow" - we were taken on a light boat through the entire bay "Severnaya".
“This is practically the entire Ukrainian fleet,” our escort said sadly when we walked past the ships: “Getman Sagaidachny,” “Slavutych,” “Konstantin Olshansky” ...
I can not help grinning: the entire Ukrainian fleet easily fit into me in one photo frame. The Russian Bora and Samum boats moored at the same parking lot even got there.
“The mooring is common here,” says the officer, “every morning at 8.00, both Ukrainians and Russians raise flags. Their teams are played on the Ukrainian Move: shy, string! We in Russian: Equal, attention! Then the anthems of Ukraine and Russia are performed simultaneously.
- Why at the same time? Who is louder?
- Not. It is laid. Nobody canceled the rituals. Both they and we still live according to the old Soviet traditions. Only Ukrainian sailors now try to work more on NATO documents. But our more often participate with NATO in joint exercises.
Cheerful socialist competition, I thought, climbing the deck of the Moscow cruiser, where we were met by the commander - guard captain 1-rank Sergei Trunin. He led us around the ship, literally talking about everything. Pro shock complex "Basalt", with 16 missiles weighing 6 tons and a range of 550 km. About the helicopter with anti-submarine weapons. About the air defense complex - an analogue of the ground C-300, an autonomous air defense system "Osa", an antenna that sees targets for 100 km, and bomb installations for protection against submarines.
Ammunition "Moscow" looked convincing. But with all this power, one thing on the ship still embarrassed me. In the command post on the spread out maps I saw an old sea sextant.
- Does navigation of a ship with such weapons really depend on antediluvian sextant? Or you do not have GPS and GLONASS?
“Yes, we have everything,” the commander grins. “But, you know, a group of officers from a foreign ship somehow came to us.” One of the guests, just like you, sees the sextant and starts laughing. His commander comes up and says: “Do not laugh, all these satellite systems will fail, they will be able to determine the ship’s place in the old antiquated way, but you will not”.
At that moment, Samum, a missile hovercraft, the aircraft carrier killer, the newest in the fleet, launched in 1992 and relocated from Baltic to Sevastopol, appeared in the windows of Moscow.
The great advantage of Samum is the airbag, with which it can reach speeds of up to 55 nodes (under 100 km per hour). So, he can quickly strike and immediately get away from the enemy.
On board the Samum 8 missiles, which the Americans call the "Sun burn" ("sunburn"), in the Russian version - "Mosquito". Such a rocket has unique properties: it goes over water at an altitude of 4 – 6 m and, since its speed is enormous, it raises a mass of mist, and therefore is not visible on the locator.
It can be seen only on the approach to the goal. At this moment she makes a turn - she rises like a cobra and hits the top of the ship's hull. Its head is made of titanium alloy, the burning temperature of which is about one and a half thousand degrees. To put it out is almost impossible, and the ship on which such a rocket struck is the sure end.
Sailors say: we would have 5 – 6 of such ships, we were used as kings on the Black Sea. Now there are only two of them - “Bor” and “Samum”. And, unfortunately, such ships are no longer being built. The engines injecting air into the air cushion were made in Ukraine, and it stopped producing them. But the main purpose of such ships is to strike against interspecific aircraft carrier groups. And who has such groups? At the USA. But we are no longer chasing their aircraft carriers. So we decided: we do not need such ships.
True, the sailors from Samum say that just a month ago they had to chase the American cruiser Monterey, which came to the Sea Breeze-2011, and then went to Georgia.
Ours kept him all the way at a distance of a shot. The Americans tried to leave: they dropped speed to 3 knots, then they brought her closer to thirty - maneuvered, trying to break away. But ours never once let them out of the area of destruction, down to Batumi.
The landing of the Marine Corps at the site of the Cossack Bay. Photo: Olga Bozhyeva.
* * *
Crimea, the Black Sea Fleet, Sevastopol, oil, gas - these concepts have long been intertwined in the minds of people into a single tangle of problems that spoils relations between Russia and Ukraine. Recently, the Black Sea people say, our relations have noticeably become warmer. But still, we remember well that when we sang a common hymn in the mornings, and not like now: everyone who’s louder was stronger.
Thus, in the 1991, the Black Sea Fleet included 835 ships of all existing classes. In 1992 – 1993 there were already 400. And from the 338 ships that Russia inherited in the 1997-m under the partition, on the move now remains about 35.
And now you can hear: why do we need such a fleet? Let him die his own death. Anyway, if something happens, the Turks who own the straits will lock him up in the Black Sea puddle, where he will disappear without firing a single shot.
But there is another point of view. She is addressed to stories. After the entry of Crimea into the Russian Empire in 1783 between Russia and Turkey, the Yassky peace treaty was concluded in 1791 in the year. Among other things, he implied that Turkey recognizes the rights of the Russian Empire in the Crimea and assumes that in case of refusal of these rights, the Crimea will be returned to Turkey.
This contract is, of course, ancient, but legally still not canceled by anyone. Modern Turkey - the successor of the Ottoman Empire - does not refuse any treaties. And about their rights to the Crimea perfectly remembers.
It’s good if they were remembered by the Slavic brothers, who in their endless disputes turned the Black Sea Fleet into a bargaining chip, completely forgetting about its historical role on this peninsula.