I began collecting materials about the death of the battleship Novorossiysk at the end of the 80s from the light hand of the head of the Emergency Rescue Service of the USSR Navy Rear Admiral-Engineer Nikolai Petrovich Chiker. It was a legendary man, a shipbuilder, a real epronoveer, the godson of academician A.N. Krylova, friend and deputy of Yves Cousteau on the international federation of underwater activities. Finally, the most important thing in this context - Nikolay Petrovich was the commander of the special purpose expedition EON-35 to lift the battleship Novorossiysk. He also developed the master plan for lifting the ship. He also led all the lifting work on the battleship, including its transfer from the Sevastopol Bay to the Cossack Bay. Hardly anyone else knew more about the ill-fated battleship than he did. I was shocked by his story about the tragedy played out in the inner raid of Sevastopol, about the heroism of the sailors who were at their fighting posts to the end, about the martyrdom of those who remained inside the overturned hull ...
Being in that year in Sevastopol, I began to look for the participants of this bitter epic, rescuers, witnesses. It turned out a lot. To this day, alas, more than half have passed away. And then both the main boatswain of the battleship, and the commander of the main caliber division, and many officers, warrant officers, sailors of the Novorossiysk were still alive. Walked along the chain - from address to address ...
By great happiness, I was introduced to the widow of the commander of the electrical engineering division, Olga Vasilyevna Matusevich. She collected an extensive photo archive in which you can see the faces of all the sailors killed on the ship.
The then-head of the Black Sea Fleet Technical Directorate, Rear Admiral-Engineer Yury Mikhailovich Khaliulin, helped a lot.
I learned the truth about the death of the battleship from the first hand and documents, alas, at that time still classified.
I managed to talk even with the former commander of the Black Sea Fleet in that fateful year - Vice-Admiral Viktor Parkhomenko. The information range was extremely wide - from the komflot and the commander of the rescue expedition to the sailors who managed to get out of the steel coffin ...
The “special importance” folder contained a record of the conversation with the commander of the Black Sea Fleet combat squadron, Capt. 1, rank Yury Plechenko, with the Black Sea Fleet counterintelligence officer Yevgeny Melnichuk, as well as Admiral Gordey Levchenko, who, in 1949, overtook the Novorossiksk battalion from Novy Bey in Albse in the Army, and overtook the Novkoriisk battalion in Novy from Bey in Albania, in Alba, in Albse, in the army, in Novi Russia, overtook the Novorossiysk crew from Albys in the Army, and then drove the Novorossiksk battalion from Novy Plain from the Army in the Army, and overtook the Novkoriysk battalion from Novy Bekhla.
And I sat down to work. The main thing was not to drown in the material, to build a chronicle of the event and give an objective comment to each episode. A rather voluminous essay (in two newspaper pages) I titled with the title of Aivazovsky's painting “Ship's Explosion”. When everything was ready, he took the essay to the main Soviet newspaper, Pravda. He very much hoped that this authoritative publication would be allowed to tell the truth about the death of Novorossiysk. But even in the “era” of Gorbachev publicity, this turned out to be impossible without the permission of the censor. The Pravdinsky censor sent me to a military censor. And that one is even further, or rather higher, to the General Headquarters of the Soviet Navy:
- Now, if the Chief of General Staff signs, then type.
Chief of the General Staff of the USSR Navy Admiral of the Fleet Nikolai Ivanovich Smirnov was in the hospital. He was examined before his transfer to the reserve and agreed to meet with me in the ward. I am going to him in Silver Alley. Chamber with the comfort of a good one-bedroom apartment. The admiral carefully read the brought galley, remembered that he, then still the captain of 1 rank, took part in the rescue of the "Novorossiysk" who found themselves in a deadly trap of the steel case.
- I suggested to use for communication with them the installation of a sound underwater communication. And they heard my voice under water. I called them to calm. I asked for a knock to indicate who is where. And they heard. The body of the overturned battleship responded by striking the gland. Knocked from everywhere - from the stern and bow. But only nine people managed to rescue ...
Nikolai Ivanovich Smirnov signed a galley for me - “I authorize publication”, but warned that his visa is valid only for the next day, since tomorrow there will be an order for his transfer to the reserve.
- Can you print in a day?
I had time. The next morning, May 14, 1988, the newspaper Pravda came out with my essay - "The Explosion". Thus, the breach of silence over the battleship Novorossiysk was breached.
The chief engineer of the special purpose expedition, doctor of technical sciences, professor Nikolai Petrovich Muru signed his brochure “Instructive lessons of the accident and death of the battleship Novorossiysk” to me: “Nikolai Cherkashin, who initiated the publicity about the tragedy”. For me, this inscription was the highest award, as well as the commemorative medal “Battleship Novorossiysk”, which was presented to me by the chairman of the board of veterans of the ship, 1 rank captain Yury Lepekhov.
Much has been written about how the battleship perished, how bravely the seafarers fought for its survivability, and how they were then saved. More is written about the cause of the explosion. There are just eagles on wheels erected, dozens of versions for every taste. The best way to hide the truth is to bury it under a pile of assumptions.
Of all the versions, the State Commission chose the most obvious and the safest for the naval authorities: an old German mine, which, when confronted by several fatal circumstances, took and worked under the bottom of the battleship.
The ground mines with which the Germans during the war years abandoned the Main Harbor, and today, more than 10 years later, 70 are found in one corner of the bay, then in the other. Everything is clear and convincing here: trawling, trawling the North Bay and not very thoroughly. Who is the demand now?
Another thing is sabotage. Here is built a whole line of persons responsible
From this version fan, I personally choose the one that was expressed by seamen, highly respected by me (and not only by me), authoritative experts. I will name only a few. This is the Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union N.G., Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Navy during the war and in the fifties. Kuznetsov, deputy commander for combat training in 50, admiral G.I. Levchenko, Rear Admiral-Engineer N.P. Chiker, a remarkable shipwright historian captain 1 rank N.A. Zaleski. The fact that the explosion of "Novorossiysk" - the work of combat swimmers, was convinced and the captain 2 rank G.A. Khurshudov, as well as many of the officers of Novorossiysk, employees of a special department, combat swimmers of the Black Sea Fleet. But even like-minded people disagree not only in details. Without going into the consideration of all the “sabotage versions”, I’ll dwell on one - “the version of Leibovich-Lepekhov”, as the most convincing. Moreover, today it is very much supported by the book of the Roman journalist Luca Ribustini, recently published in Italy, “The Mystery of the Russian Battleship”. But about her a little later.
"The ship started from a double explosion ..."
“It may have been an echo, but I heard two explosions, the second one, though quieter. But there were two explosions, ”wrote the midshipman of the reserve VS Sporynin from Zaporozhye.
“At the 30 hour, there was a strange sound of a strong dual hydraulic shock ...” - said Sevastopol captain 2 of the rank-engineer N.G. Filippovich.
The former foreman of the 1 article Dmitri Alexandrov from Chuvashia on the night of October 29 1955, was the chief of the guard on the cruiser Mikhail Kutuzov. “Suddenly, our ship shivered from a double explosion, precisely from a double explosion,” emphasizes Alexandrov.
The former doubler of the main boatswain of the Novorossiysk, the midshipman Konstantin Ivanovich Petrov, speaks about the double blast, and other sailors, both the Novorossiysk and from the ships who were stationed near the battleship, write about him. Yes, and on the tape of the seismogram, the marks of double shaking of the soil are easily viewed.
What is the matter? Maybe it is in this “duality” that the answer to the cause of the explosion lies?
“A bunch of mines gone to the ground could not break through the battleship from the keel to the“ lunar sky ”. Most likely, the explosive device was mounted inside the ship, somewhere in the holds ”. This assumption of the former sergeant of 2-th article A.P. Andreev, once a Black Sea man, and now a Petersburg resident, seemed at first absurd. Has the battleship Novorossiysk really carried its death in itself for six years ?!
But when a retired colonel engineer E.E. Leibovich not only made the same assumption, but also drew on the battleship scheme, where, in his opinion, there could be a similar charge, I began to work on this seemingly unlikely version.
Elizarii Efimovich Leibovich is a professional and authoritative shipbuilding engineer. He was the chief engineer of the special-purpose expedition that raised the battleship, with the right hand of Patriarch Nikolai Petrovich Epicron EPRON.
- The battleship was built with a ram type nose. When upgrading to 1933 — 1937, the Italians put their nose on 10 meters, supplying it with a double-streamline boule to reduce hydrodynamic resistance and thereby increase the speed of travel. In the place of conjugation of the old and the new nose, there was some kind of damping volume in the form of a tightly welded tank, in which an explosive device could be placed, taking into account, firstly, constructive vulnerability, secondly, proximity to the artillery grabs of the main caliber and third, inaccessibility for inspection.
“What, if indeed it was like that?” - I thought more than once, looking at the scheme, sketched by Leibovich. The battleship could be mined in order to launch an explosive device with a part of the Italian team on board, putting on it, if possible, the most remote period of the explosion: a month, six months, a year,
But, contrary to the original conditions, all Italian sailors, without exception, were removed from the ship back in Valon, in Albania.
So along with them came the one who was supposed to cock the long-term clock mechanism in Sevastopol.
So “Novorossiysk” walked with a “bullet under the heart” all six years, until a sabotage submarine SX-506 was built in Livorno. Probably, the temptation was too great to put into action a powerful mine, already laid in the bowels of the ship.
There was only one way to do this — an initiating explosion at the side, more precisely, at the 42 th frame.
A small (only 23 meters in length), with a sharp nose typical of surface ships, was easy to disguise as a seiner or self-propelled tanker. And then it could be so.
Whether in tow or in its own way, a certain “seiner” under the bogus flag passes the Dardanelles, the Bosphorus, and on the open sea, dropping false superstructures, plunges and takes a course toward Sevastopol. During the week (as long as the autonomy allowed, given the return to the Bosphorus), the SX-506 could monitor the exit from the North Bay. Finally, when the Novorossiisk was returned to the base at the periscope, according to the testimony of sonar devices, the underwater saboteur-carrier lay down on the ground, and released four combat swimmers from the airlock chamber. They removed seven-meter plastic “cigars” from the external hangers, took seats under the transparent fairings of the two-seater cabins, and noiselessly moved toward the unguarded, open gateway of the harbor. The masts and pipes of Novorossiysk (its silhouette was read unmistakably) loomed against the background of the lunar sky.
It is unlikely that the drivers of underwater transporters had to maneuver for a long time: the direct path from the gate to the Linkoriv anchor barrels could not take much time. Depths at the side of the battleship ideal for light divers - 18 meters. Everything else was a matter of long and well-developed technology ...
The double blast of charges delivered and laid earlier was shaken by the hull of the battleship on a dead night, when SX-506, taking aboard underwater saboteurs, kept heading for the Bosphorus ...
The interaction of these two charges can be explained and L-shaped wound in the body of "Novorossiysk."
Captain 2 of rank Yuri Lepekhov served as a commander of a bilge group at Novorossiysk when he was a lieutenant. In his charge were all the bottoms of this huge ship, double bottom space, holds, cofferdams, cisterns ...
He testified: “In March 1949 of the year, being the commander of the bilge group of the battleship Julius Caesar, which became part of the Black Sea Fleet called Novorossiysk, I a month after the ship arrived in Sevastopol, I examined the holds of the battleship. On the 23 frame, I found a bulkhead in which floric cuts (a cross connection of the bottom overlap, consisting of vertical steel sheets bounded above by the bottom of the second floor, and underneath by the bottom covering) were brewed. Welding seemed quite fresh compared to the welds on the bulkheads. I thought - how to find out what is behind this bulkhead?
If you cut out by autogen, then a fire may start or even an explosion may occur. I decided to check what is available behind the bulkhead, by drilling with a pneumatic machine. On the ship such a machine was not there. I reported this to the survivability battalion commander on the same day. Did he report this to the command? I dont know. This is how this question remained forgotten. ” We remind the reader who is not familiar with the intricacies of maritime rules and laws that, according to the Maritime Regulations, all warships of the fleet without exception should inspect all premises, including those difficult to access, several times a year by a special standing corps commission chaired by foreman. Examines the state of the hull and all hull structures. After that, an act is written about the results of the inspection under the control of persons of the operational department of the fleet's technical department for making a decision, if necessary, on the performance of preventive works or in emergency.
As Vice-Admiral Parkhomenko and his headquarters allowed that on the Italian battleship "Julius Caesar" there was a "secret pocket", not accessible and never inspected, - a mystery!
Analysis of the events preceding the transfer of the battleship to the Black Sea Fleet leaves no doubt that after the war was lost by them, the “Italian military” had enough time for such an action.
And the captain of the 2 rank-engineer Y. Lepekhov is right - there was plenty of time for such an action: six years. Here are just “Italian military”, the official Italian fleet, was away from the planned diversion. According to Luca Ribustini, “post-war fragile Italian democracy” could not authorize such a large-scale sabotage, the young Italian state had enough internal problems to get involved in international conflicts. But it is fully responsible for the fact that the 10-I MAC flotilla was not dissolved, the most effective combination of underwater saboteurs during World War II. They did not dissolve, despite the fact that the international tribunal unequivocally determined the 10-th Flotilla of the MAS a criminal organization. The flotilla was preserved as if by itself, as a veteran association scattered around the port cities: Genoa, Taranto, Brindisi, Venice, Bari ... These thirty-year "veterans" retained subordination, discipline, and most importantly their combat experience and the spirit of underwater special forces - we can ". Of course, in Rome they were aware of them, but the government did not take any action to stop the public speeches of the far-right Phalangists. Perhaps because, says the Italian researcher, these people were in the special attention of the CIA and the British special services. They were necessary in the conditions of the cold war that was gaining momentum with the USSR. The people of the "black prince" Borghese actively protested against the transfer of part of the Italian fleet to the Soviet Union. And the “part” was considerable. In addition to the pride of the Italian fleet - the battleship "Julio Cesare" - more than 30 ships departed to us: the cruiser, several destroyers, submarines, torpedo boats, landing ships, auxiliary vessels - from tankers to tugs, and the handsome sailboat Christopher Columbus. Of course, among the military sailors "militar marinare" passions were seething.
However, the allies were implacable, and international agreements came into force. "Julio Cesare" cruised between Taranto and Genoa, where in the local shipyards carried out a very superficial repair of mainly electrical equipment. A kind of tuning before transferring to the new owners of the ship. As noted by the Italian researcher, no one seriously engaged in the protection of the battleship. It was a passing yard, not only workers, but anyone who wanted to board the alienated battleship. Security was minimal and very symbolic. Of course, among the workers were the "patriots" in the spirit of the Borghese. They knew the underwater part of the ship well, since the battleship underwent a major upgrade at these shipyards at the end of the 30s. What did it cost them to show the “activists” of the 10 flotilla a secluded place to place the charge, or to place it in the double bottom space, in the damping compartment?
It was precisely at this time, in October 1949 of the year, in the military harbor of Taranto, unidentified persons kidnapped 3800 kg of TNT. On this extraordinary case, the investigation began.
Police and agents returned 1700 kg. Five abductors were identified, three of them were arrested. 2100 kg of explosives disappeared without a trace. The carabinieri were told that they had gone fishing for illegal fishing. Despite the absurdity of such an explanation - for poaching killing fish there are no need for thousands of kilograms of explosives - the carabineers did not conduct any further investigation. However, the Navy Disciplinary Commission concluded that the fleet officials were not involved in it, and the matter was soon hushed up. It is logical to assume that the missing 2100 kilograms of explosives just lay in the steel bowels of the bow of the battleship.
Another important detail. If all the other ships were transferred without ammunition, then the battleship came with full artillery graves, both charge and projectile. 900 tons of ammunition plus 1100 powder charges to main-caliber guns, 32 torpedoes (533 mm).
Why? Was this stipulated in the terms of the transfer of the battleship to the Soviet side? After all, the Italian authorities were aware of the close attention of the fighters of the 10 fleet to the battleship, could have placed this entire arsenal on other ships, minimizing opportunities for sabotage.
True, in January 1949, just a few weeks before the transfer of part of the Italian fleet of the USSR, in Rome, Taranto and Lecce, the most frenzied fighters of the 10 flotilla were arrested who were preparing murderous surprises for the reparation ships. Perhaps this is why the sabotage campaign, developed by Prince Borghese and his comrades-in-arms, failed. And the idea was this: to blow up the battleship on the transition from Taranto to Sevastopol with a night strike of a self-explosive launch of a firefighter. At night, in the open sea, the speedboat overtakes the battleship and rams it with a load of explosives in the nose. The driver of the boat, having sent a Brander to the target, is thrown overboard in a life jacket and another boat picks it up. All this is not just worked out during the war. There was experience, there was explosives, there were people ready to do it, and a couple of speedboats to steal, get, buy for thugs from the 10 flotilla was not difficult. From the explosion of the boat would detonate the charge cellar, as well as the trotyl laid in the bowels of the hull. And all this could be easily attributed to a mine that was not cultivated in the Adriatic Sea. No one would ever know.
But the militants were also confused by the fact that the Soviet side refused to accept the battleship in the Italian port and offered to overtake it in the Albanian port of Vlore. The Borghese people decided not to drown their sailors. "Julio Cesare" went first to Vlora, and then to Sevastopol, carrying in his womb a good ton of TNT. Awl in a bag can not be hidden, you can not hide a charge in the ship's hold. Among the workers were communists who warned sailors about the mining of the battleship. Rumors about this came to our command.
The driving of the Italian ships to Sevastopol was headed by Rear Admiral G.I. Levchenko. By the way, it was in his cap that the draw for the section of the Italian fleet was conducted. Here is what Gordey Ivanovich said.
“At the beginning of 1947, an agreement was reached at the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Allied Powers on the distribution of the transferred Italian ships between the USSR, the USA, Great Britain and other countries affected by the Italian aggression. For example, France was allocated four cruisers, four destroyers and two submarines, and Greece - one cruiser. The battleships became part of the "A", "B" and "C" groups intended for the three main powers.
The Soviet side claimed for one of two new battleships, in their power surpassing even the German ships of the Bismarck type. But since by that time the Cold War was already beginning between the recent allies, neither the United States nor Britain sought to strengthen the Navy of the USSR with powerful ships. I had to throw lots, and the USSR received the group "C". New battleships went to the USA and England (later these battleships were returned to Italy as part of the NATO partnership). By decision of the Tripartite Commission 1948, the USSR received the battleship Giulio Cesare, the light cruiser Emmanuele Filiberto Duke D'Aosta, the destroyers Artilleri, Fuchiliere, the destroyers Animozo, Ardenmentoz, Fortunale and submarines Marea and Nichelo.
9 December 1948 of the Year “Giulio Cesare” left the port of Taranto and December 15 arrived in the Albanian port of Vlora. 3 February 1949, the transfer of the battleship to the Soviet sailors took place at this port. February 6 above the ship raised the naval flag of the USSR.
On the battleship and submarines, they inspected all the premises, boules, pumped oil, inspected oil storage facilities, ammunition cellars, storerooms and all auxiliary facilities. Nothing suspicious was found. Moscow warned us that there were reports in the Italian newspapers that the Russians would not bring reparation ships to Sevastopol, that they would explode at the crossing, and therefore the Italian team did not go with the Russians to Sevastopol. I don’t know what it was - bluffing, intimidation, but only 9 in February I received a message from Moscow that a special group of three sappers officers with mine detectors were flying to us to help us find the mines hidden on the battleship.
February 10 arrived army specialists. But when we showed them the rooms of the battleship, when they saw that the portable lamp could be easily ignited from the ship's hull, the army team refused to search for mines. Their mine detectors were good in the field ... So they left with nothing. And then the whole trip from Vlora to Sevastopol seemed to us the ticking of the “hellish typewriter” ”.
... I looked through a lot of folders in the archive when my tired eyes did not stumble upon a telegram from the Italian Ministry of the Interior on January 26 1949. It was addressed to all the prefects of the Italian provinces.
It reported that, according to a reliable source, attacks on ships leaving for Russia are being prepared. Former underwater saboteurs from the 10 fleet will be involved in these attacks. They have all the means to conduct this combat operation. Some of them are even willing to sacrifice their lives.
From the General Staff of the Navy there was a leak of information about the routes of the reparation ships. The point of attack is chosen outside the Italian territorial waters, presumably 17 miles from the port of Vlora.
This telegram confirms the recent very loud testimony of veteran 10 of the UAS flotilla Ugo D'Esposito, strengthens our hypothesis about the real causes of the death of "Julio Cesare". And if someone still does not believe in a conspiracy around the battleship, in the existence of an organized fighting force directed against him, then this telegram, like other documents from the archive folder I found, should dispel these doubts. From these police papers it becomes clear that in Italy there existed a very effective branched neo-fascist organization in the person of former underwater commandos. And government agencies knew about it. Why wasn’t a cardinal investigation of the activities of these people, whose social danger was evident? After all, even in the naval department itself there were quite a few officers who sympathized with them. Why did the Ministry of the Interior, being well aware of the relationship between Valerio Borghese and the CIA, of the American intelligence interest in reorganizing the 10 MAS flotilla, not stop the Black Prince in time? ”
Who and why was it needed?
So, the battleship "Julio Cesare" safely arrived in Sevastopol 26 February. Order for the Black Sea Fleet from 5 March 1949, the battleship was given the name "Novorossiysk". But he has not yet become a full-fledged warship. To enter it into the line, needed a repair, and needed an upgrade. And only by the middle of the 50-s, when the reparation ship began to go to sea for combat shooting, it became a real force in the Cold War, a force that threatened the interests of not at all Italy, but of England.
At the beginning of 50, England followed the events in Egypt with great concern, where in July 1952, after a military coup, Colonel Gamal Nasser took power. It was a landmark event, and this sign foreshadowed the end of the undivided British rule in the Middle East. But London was not going to give up. Prime Minister Anthony Eden, commenting on the nationalization of the Suez Canal, said: "Nasser's thumb is pressed to our respiratory neck." By the middle of the 50-x in the zone of the Suez Strait - the second after the Gibraltar "road of life" for Britain, war was ripening. Egypt had almost no navy. But Egypt had an ally with an impressive Black Sea fleet - the Soviet Union.
A battle core of the Black Sea Fleet were two battleships - "Novorossiysk", the flagship, and "Sevastopol". To loosen this core, to decapitate it — the task for British intelligence was highly relevant.
And quite feasible. But England, according to historians, has always dragged chestnuts out of the fire by proxy. In this situation, the Italian combat swimmers were alien and very comfortable. They had ship drawings and maps of all the Sevastopol bays, since the 10 flotilla division of the MAS - Ursa Major division - was active during the war years off the coast of Crimea, in the Sevastopol harbor.
The big political game that was tied around the zone of the Suez Canal resembled devilish chess. If England declares “shah” to Nasser, then Moscow can cover its comrade with such a powerful figure as “rook,” that is, the battleship Novorossiysk, which had the free right to go through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles and who could be transferred to Suez for two times in a threatened period days. But the “rook” was under the battle of the inconspicuous “pawn”. It was quite realistic to remove the “boat”, because, firstly, it was unprotected - the entrance to the Main Bay of Sevastopol was very poorly guarded, and, secondly, the battleship wore its own death in its womb - the explosives laid by the Borghese people in taranto.
The problem was how to ignite a hidden charge. The most optimal is to cause its detonation by an auxiliary - external - explosion. To do this, combat swimmers transport the mine to the board and set it in the right place. How to deliver a diversionary group to the bay? In the same way as Borghese delivered his people in the Shire submarine - under water during the war years. But Italy had no submarine fleet. But the private shipbuilding company “Kosmos” produced ultra-small submarines and sold them to different countries. To purchase such a boat through a front person cost exactly as much as the SX-506 itself. Power reserve at the underwater "dwarf" is small. To transport a conveyor of combat swimmers to the area of operation, a surface cargo vessel is needed, from which two deck cranes would lower it to the water. This problem was solved by the private freight of one or another “merchant” who would not cause suspicion to anyone. And such a "merchant" was found ...
The mystery of the flight "Acilia"
Military intelligence of the Black Sea Fleet after the death of "Novorossiysk" earned with double the activity. Of course, the “Italian version” was also worked out. But for the sake of the authors of the main version of the “accidental blasting on an unwashed German mine,” intelligence reported that there were almost no Italian ships on the Black Sea in the period preceding the Novorossiysk bombing, or almost none. Somewhere a foreign ship somewhere far away.
The book Ribustini, the facts published in it, say something completely different! Italian shipping in the Black Sea in October 1955, the year was very tense. At least 21 merchant ship under the Italian tricolor plied the Black Sea, leaving the ports of southern Italy. “From the documents of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which are classified as“ secret ”, it is clear that from the ports of Brindisi, Taranto, Naples, Palermo, merchant ships, tankers, having passed the Dardanelles, went to various Black Sea ports - and to Odessa, and in Sevastopol, and even in the heart of Ukraine - along the Dnieper to Kiev. These are Cassia, Cyclops, Camillo, Penelope, Massaua, Zhenzianella, Alcantara, Sicula, Frulio, loaded and unloaded grain, citrus, metals from their holds.
The breakthrough, which opens up a new scenario, is connected with the publication of some documents from the police offices and the prefecture of the port of Brindisi. From this city, overlooking the Adriatic Sea 26 in January 1955, the freighter Aciliia, owned by Neapolitan merchant Raffaele Romano, came out. Of course, such intense traffic did not go unnoticed by SIFAR (Italian military intelligence). This is a worldwide practice - in the crews of civilian vessels there are always people who monitor all the encountered warships and other military objects, and, if possible, also conduct electronic reconnaissance. However, SIFAR does not mark “any traces of military activities as part of the movement of merchant ships in the direction of the ports of the Black Sea”. It would be surprising if the Sifarovites confirmed the presence of such traces.
So, on board the “Acilia”, according to the ship’s role, 13 sailors plus six more.
Luka Ribustini: “Officially, the ship was supposed to come to the Soviet port to load the zinc scrap, but its real mission, which continued for at least the next two months, remains a mystery. The captain of the port of Brindisi sent a report to the Public Security Bureau that six people from the crew of “Acilia” are on board freelancers, and that they all belong to the confidential service of the Italian Navy, that is, to the Navy Security Service (SIOS). ”
The Italian researcher notes that among these non-staff members of the crew were highly skilled radio specialists in the field of radio intelligence and cryptographic services, as well as the most up-to-date equipment for intercepting Soviet radio messages.
The document of the captain of the port informs that the ship “Aciliya” was preparing for this voyage by naval officers. Similar information was transmitted on the same day to the prefecture of the city of Bari. In March 1956 of the year, Aciliia made another flight to Odessa. But this is after the death of the battleship.
Of course, these documents, comments Ribustini, do not say that the flights of “Acilias” were made to prepare a diversion against “Novorossiysk”
“Nevertheless, we can safely say that at least two voyages made by the ship’s owner, Neapolitan Raffaele Roman, were pursued by military reconnaissance goals with highly qualified naval personnel on board. These flights were made several months before and after the death of the battleship Novorossiysk. And these freelance specialists did not take part in loading operations on a par with other sailors of the steamer who filled the holds with wheat, oranges, scrap metal. All this causes certain suspicions in the context of this stories.
From the port of Brindisi to the Black Sea, not only the “Acilia” left, but, probably, the ship that delivered the commando command 10 of the MAS flotilla to the port of Sevastopol.
Of the nineteen crew members, at least three, of course, belonged to the naval department: the first assistant, the second officer-engineer and radio operator. The first two went aboard the Alicia in Venice, while the third, a radio operator, arrived on the day of the ship’s departure, 26, in January; they left the ship after a month, while all ordinary sailors sign a contract for at least three to six months. There were other suspicious circumstances: on the day of departure, new powerful radio equipment was installed in a hurry, which was immediately tested. The officer of the port of Civitavecchia, who helped me in my investigation, said that at that time radio specialists of this class on merchant ships were very rare and that only the Navy had several non-commissioned officers in the specialty of the RT. ”
A lot could be shed light on the ship’s role, a document that reflects all the data of crew members and their functional duties. But at the request of Ribustini, the port official answered with a polite refusal to get the ship role of the ship “Atsiya” from the archive: for sixty years this document has not been preserved.
Whatever it was, but Luca Ribustini indisputably proves one thing: the military intelligence of Italy, and not only Italy, had a very keen interest in the main military base of the Black Sea Fleet of the USSR. No one can claim that there was no foreign intelligence agency in Sevastopol.
Those Genevases, descendants of the ancient Genoese, who lived in the Crimea, in Sevastopol, could very sympathize with their historic homeland. They sent their children to study in Genoa and other Italian cities. Could CIFAR miss such a wonderful recruiting contingent? And did all the students return to the Crimea completely sinless after studying? The agents on the shore were required to report to the resident about the battleship's outlets to the sea and about its return to the base, about the locations of the Novorossiysk sites. This simple and easily accessible information was very important for those who hunted the ship from the sea.
. Today it is not so important how exactly the combat swimmers entered the main harbor of Sevastopol. On this account there are many versions. If we derive something “arithmetic mean” from them, then we get such a picture. The ultra-small SF submarine, launched at night from a chartered cargo ship aboard Sevastopol, enters the harbor through the wide open gates and releases saboteurs through a special gateway. They deliver a mine to the parking lot of the battleship, and attach it to the board in the right place, set the time of the explosion and return by the acoustic beacon to the waiting mini-submarine. Then it goes beyond the limits of territorial waters to the point of meeting with the vessel-carrier. After the explosion - no trace. And may this option not seem like an episode of Star Wars. Borghese people have done such things more than once in even more difficult conditions ...
Here is how the Security Service of Russia magazine (No. 3 – 4 1996) comments on this version:
"10-I assault fleet" took part in the siege of Sevastopol, based in the ports of the Crimea. Theoretically, a foreign submarine cruiser could deliver combat swimmers as close as possible to Sevastopol, so that they could carry out a sabotage. Taking into account the combat potential of first-class Italian scuba divers, pilots of small submarines and guided torpedoes, as well as taking into account sloppiness in the protection of the main base of the Black Sea Fleet, the version of underwater saboteurs looks convincing. " Recall once again - this is a magazine of a very serious department, which is not fond of fiction and detective stories.
The explosion of the German bottom mine and the Italian trail were the main versions. So far, unexpectedly in August, 2014 did not speak to Hugo D'Esposito, a veteran of the sabotage group of the Italian combat group 10 MAC. He gave an interview to the Roman journalist Luca Ribustini, in which he responded very elusively to the question of the correspondent whether he shared the opinion that the former Italian battleship Giulio Cesare was sunk by Italian special forces on the anniversary of the so-called March at Rome Benito Mussolini. D'Esposito replied: "Some of the IAS flotilla did not want this ship to be transferred to the Russians, they wanted to destroy it. They did everything possible to sink it."
He would be a bad special forces if he answered the question directly: "Yes, we did it." But even if he had said that, they wouldn’t have believed him anyway - what can an 90-year-old man say? And even if Valerio Borghese himself was resurrected and said: “Yes, my people did it,” then they would not have believed him! They would say that he confers upon himself other people's laurels - the laurels of His Majesty the Case: he turned to his great glory an explosion of an undoiled German ground mine.
However, Russian sources have other testimonies of fighters from the 10 fleet. So, sea captain Mikhail Lander cites the words of an Italian officer, Nicolo, allegedly one of the perpetrators of the explosion of the Soviet battleship. According to Nikolo, eight combat swimmers who arrived with a mini-submarine aboard a cargo steamer took part in the sabotage.
From there, “Picolo” (the name of the boat) went to the Omega Bay area, where the saboteurs staged a submarine base - they unloaded respiratory cylinders, explosives, hydro-towers, etc. Then, during the night, they mined Novorossiysk and blew it up, the newspaper “Absolutely secret ", very close to the circles of the" competent authorities ".
You can be ironic about Nikolo- "Pikollo", but the Omega Bay in 1955 was located outside the city, and its shores were very deserted. Several years ago, we studied the maps of the Sevastopol bays with the head of the submarine and commando center of the Black Sea Fleet: where, in fact, the operational base of combat swimmers could be located. Several such sites were found in the Novorossiysk site: a shipyard cemetery on the Black River, where decommissioned destroyers, minesweepers, and submarines were waiting for their turn to cut metal. The attack could be from there. And saboteurs could leave through the territory of the Marine Hospital, in front of which stood the battleship. The hospital is not an arsenal, and it was guarded very frivolously. In general, if an attack on the move could get choked from the sea, the saboteurs had quite real opportunities to arrange temporary shelters in Sevastopol bays to wait for a favorable situation.
Criticism of critics
The positions of the supporters of the random-mine version today are very shaken. But they do not give up. They ask questions.
1. First, an action of such a scale is possible only with the participation of the state. And it would be very difficult to hide the preparation for it, given the activity of Soviet intelligence in the Apennine Peninsula and the influence of the Italian Communist Party. Private individuals would not be able to organize such an action - too many resources would be needed to ensure it, starting with several tons of explosives and ending with means of transportation (again, let's not forget about secrecy).
Counter argument. Hide the preparation for sabotage and terrorist action is difficult, but possible. Otherwise, the world would not be disturbed by the bombings of terrorists on all continents. “The activity of Soviet intelligence in the Apennine Peninsula” is beyond doubt, but intelligence is not omniscient, just as the Italian Communist Party is even more so. We can agree that such a large-scale operation is not possible for individuals, but it was originally a question of patronizing the people of the British intelligence Borghese, which means that they were not constrained in cash.
2. As the former Italian combat swimmers themselves admitted, their life after the war was tightly controlled by the state, and any attempt at “independent action” would be stopped.
Counter argument. It would be strange if former Italian combat swimmers began to brag about their freedom and impunity. Yes, they were controlled to a certain extent. But not to the extent to interfere with their contacts with the same British intelligence. The state could not control the participation of Prince Borghese in the attempt of an anti-state coup and his secret departure to Spain. The Italian state, as noted by Luca Ribustini, bears direct responsibility for the organizational preservation of the 10-th fleet of the IAC in the post-war years. Control of the Italian state is a very illusive matter. Suffice it to recall how well it "controls" the activities of the Sicilian mafia.
3. Preparation for such an operation should be kept secret from the allies, primarily from the United States. If the Americans knew about the upcoming sabotage of the Italian or British Navy, they would certainly have prevented this: in case of failure, the United States would not have been able to wash off the accusations of inciting war for a long time. To make a similar outing against a country with nuclear weaponsin the midst of the Cold War would be insane.
Counter argument. The United States has nothing to do with it. The 1955 – 56 years are the last years when Britain tried to solve international problems on its own. But after the Egyptian triple adventure, which London undertook contrary to Washington’s opinion, Britain finally entered the channel of America. Therefore, it was not necessary for the British to coordinate with the CIA sabotage operation in 1955 year. Themselves with a mustache. At the height of the Cold War, the Americans committed a variety of attacks "against a country that possesses nuclear weapons." Suffice it to recall the notorious flight of the Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance aircraft.
4. Finally, in order to mine a ship of this class in a guarded harbor, it was necessary to collect complete information about the security regime, the berths, the ships leaving the sea, and so on. It is impossible to do this without a resident with a radio station in Sevastopol itself or somewhere nearby. All operations of Italian saboteurs during the war were carried out only after careful reconnaissance and never "blindly." But even after half a century there is no evidence that in one of the most protected cities of the USSR, filtered through the KGB and counterintelligence, the English or Italian resident operated, regularly supplying information not only to Rome or London, but personally to Prince Borghese.
Counter argument. As for foreign agents, in particular, among the Genevises, this was discussed above.
In Sevastopol, “filtered through KGB and counterintelligence,” unfortunately, there were even remnants of the Abwehr agent network, which was shown by 60's lawsuits. There is nothing to say about the recruiting activities of the world's strongest intelligence agencies like the Mi-6.
Even if the saboteurs would be discovered and arrested, they would have stood on the fact that their action was not an initiative of the state, but a private one (and Italy would have confirmed it at any level) that it was done by volunteers - World War II veterans who honor the road flag of the native fleet.
“We are the last romantics, surviving witnesses of a period erased from history, because history remembers only winners! Nobody ever forced us: we were and remain volunteers. We are“ non-party ”, but not“ apolitical, ”and we will never support or let's give our voice to those who despise our ideals, insult our honor, forget our victims. The MAS 10 flotilla has never been either royal, republican, fascist, or Badolian (Pietro Badoglio is a member of the bias B. Mussolini in July 1943 of the year - N.Ch.). But always only the numbers it is Italian! " - today proclaims the site of the Association of Fighters and Veterans of the 10 Flotilla of the IAS.