Military Review

Islands of the dead ships

Islands of the dead ships

All Soviet schoolchildren were fond of Alexander Belyaev’s novel “The Island of the Dead Ship”. It tells about the island from the remains of ships of different eras, which the current attributed to the algae in the Sargasso Sea. Naturally, these were Belyaev's fantasies, and the author himself destroyed the island by fire at the end of the novel.

The most curious thing is that the islands of the lost ships not only really took place, but also exist today! So, there are two such islands off the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea. One of them is located near the Buzachi Peninsula, the other is near the town of Port Shevchenko (now Aktau).

In 1960 – 1990's, these were testing grounds for cruise missiles. Naturally, all information on them is classified so far.

The information about these islands gets to the mass media only by chance. So, 28 June 2012, the Kazakh border boat "Neiz" flew into the hull of a submerged ship near the Buzachi Peninsula, got a hole and sank. The crew was evacuated. A month later, the boat was raised with the help of pontoons and taken up the Ural River.

I note that both islands ... are inhabited! Numerous poachers and smugglers took refuge in the hulls of the ships.


In accordance with the decision of the USSR Council of Ministers in 1958, the 77 Special Maritime Test Site was formed in the Caspian Sea, with central subordination of the Scientific Research Institute of the Air Force and, in operational order, the 6 control of the Institute.

The test site included two test stations (the first is the Buzachi peninsula and the second is the Shevchenko fort) and a division of sea auxiliary vessels in the Caspian Sea.

However, the first launches of cruise missiles began in these areas even earlier. So, in December 1953, the Tu-4 aircraft launched the KS ("Comet") missile on the Kursk transport. This was the first launch of the "Comet", made not by testers, but by the combat crew of the training unit No. 27 of the Black Sea Air Force fleetbased in the Crimea at the airfield Guards.

May 28, 1958 at the training ground number 77 began testing the cruise missile K-10S, and from November 15, 1958 - tests aviation cruise missile KSR-2.

At the end of the 1960-s at the test site No. 77, long-range second-generation aviation and missile systems (ARC) were tested:

1. ARK K-26, designed to destroy naval and land targets, as well as operating radar. Ground and flight factory tests of the complex were conducted from November 1966 of the year to March 1967 of the year at the Kazan Aviation Plant. They were attended by two aircraft converted from the serial Tu-16K-10: № 1793014 and № 2743054. In April, they were presented for state tests, but because of the need for improvements in the K-26 complex, flights began at the Research Institute of the Air Force and at the test site only at the end of 1968 and ended in the spring of 1969.

The Tu-16K-10-26 complex was adopted by the Navy Aviation Complex by a resolution of the USSR Council of Ministers No. 882-315 of November 12 of 1969 of the year. It was intended to destroy land and sea targets with KSR-5 or KSR-2 missiles of various modifications, and only sea targets - K-10SD or K-10С missiles. The carrier aircraft received the index Tu-16K-10-26.

2. ARK K-22 was created in three versions: strategic - with the X-22PSI missile; anti-ship - X-22PG; anti-radar - X-22P.

Flight tests of the X-22 rocket began on July 1 1961, on two Tu-22K bombers (No. 24 and No. 25), and ended only in 1967. The complexes were put into service in 1968 – 1971 years.

In 1970, a number of long-range airborne missile systems were tested at test site No. 77:

1. ARK K-26P (Tu-16А-26П, КСР-5П - anti-radar modification of the missile). The product was introduced to the State tests in April 1972 of the year, and was adopted for service by the USSR Council of Ministers Decree No. 643-205 of 4 of September 1973.

2. ARK K-22М was adopted in 1974 year (X-22MA missiles - with inertial guidance system, and X-22MP - with passive radar seeker) - aircraft carriers Tu-22КД and Tu-22М.

3. ARK K-22Н was adopted in the 1976 year (X-22Н missiles with new PMN type PMN, X-22NP with passive GOS, X-22HA with inertial guidance system, providing correction for terrain, pointing accuracy to several meters). The aircraft carrier Tu-95K-22, Tu-22М2 and Tu-22М3.

It should be noted that at the Caspian test site No. 77 not only tests of cruise aircraft missiles were conducted, but also exercises of aviation of the Black Sea, Baltic and Northern fleets.

Thus, the first launches of the K-10 serial missiles took place in the Caspian. For this purpose, two combat crews of the Tu-21817K-1960 were selected from the military unit 16 of the Northern Fleet aviation in June 10.

Previously, the crews made three departures at the Kuzminskoye Northern Fleet Aviation Ground, after which they flew over to the Kulbakino airfield at the 33 Training Center, where they carried out further training for eight days. Then the crews returned to the Severomorsk-1 airfield, where they received the cruise missiles prepared for launch and flew again to the Kulbakino airfield.

After the readiness control in June, 1960 started practical launches. The first was performed by the crew of Lieutenant Colonel Myznikov. The flight along the route: Nikolaev - Stavropol - Black Market - target (submerged tanker "Chkalov") - Shevchenko port - Caspian Sea - Astrakhan - Rostov-on-Don - Nikolaev - was performed at an altitude of 10 – 10,5 thousand meters. The missile release was made on 175 km distance. According to the site, the rocket did not reach the target 40 m.

Behind him, the launch of the second rocket was made by the crew of Lieutenant Colonel Kovalev. Rocket release was made at a distance from the target 170 km. The result of this launch is a direct hit.

I note that the length of the tanker Chkalov 110 m, and the displacement - 9100 t. To make the tanker look like a heavy cruiser on the radar screens, masts with corner reflectors were placed on it, and between the masts they pulled a metal net 13 m high.

It is curious that in one of the last launches of the K-10, the rocket missed the target and flew another 245 km. It is not difficult to guess what kind of panic would have arisen if it had happened at the Feodosia range Sandy Beam. And then the desert waters, deserted shores - fly wherever you want.

Ghost ships are there, where previously splashing
Aral Sea. Reuters Photos


By the Resolution of the USSR Council of Ministers № 142-315 of 12 in August 1961, the K-10 complex was adopted. Until the end of 1963, the aircraft factories No. 1 and No. 2 produced the 216 of the Tu-16K-10 bomber. Alas, the rocket was brought to mind for quite some time. In 1960 – 1962, the missile system entered seven aviation regiments, and the number of missile launches from 79 in 1960 increased to 126 in 1961, reaching a record number in 1962 - 147 launches.

The K-11-16 complex was the first to be mastered by the crews of the 540 instructor's sea-launched missile regiment (MRPA) of the 33-th training center in Nikolaev (Kulbakino airfield).

The first launches of the KSR-11 combat missiles were performed from October 25 to November 23 on 1969. During the shooting, targets were detected at a distance of 200 – 210 m, and the pre-launch preparation took no more than 2 – 3 minutes.

During tests in the Caspian, a cumulative high-explosive warhead weighing 630 kg gave holes of up to 22 square. m, and the internal compartments were burned with a cumulative jet to a depth of 12 m.

Unfortunately, during the exercises in the Caspian Sea there were also catastrophes. So, 13 of May 1964, a group of Baltic Tu-16К-10 airplanes from 170-2 of the Baltic Fleet’s MRPA, launched from the Bykhov airfield to conduct practical KS-10 missiles firing at the 77-1 range.

All flights to the Caspian Sea were carried out with refueling. Refueling took place in the Tsimlyansk reservoir area. "The weather was difficult." After refueling with the divergence of the Tu-16K-10 aircraft and the Tu-16SCh tanker aircraft, both fell apart in the air. Of the 12 crew members, the 5 people escaped. At the same time, they did not eject, but were simply thrown out of the aircraft.


The Tura ship repair and restoration vessel, a former network-layer networker of the 149 project, followed from the port of Bautino and turned out to be in 150 km from the “island of the dead ships” in the area of ​​Fort Shevchenko. Nevertheless, the GSN of the X-22 rocket fired from the Tu-22 missile carrier seized the vessel. The rocket at supersonic speed raced at an altitude of 15 m above the deck, creating a powerful shock wave and aerodynamic turbulence.

17 April 1975 of the Tu-22-42 plane of the Black Sea 943-OMRAP produced at the test site No. 77 the first practical launch of the X-22 cruise missile.

16 September 1975, the Baltic crew of the Tu-16K-10-26 from the 170-MRAP launched a KCR-5 rocket at the test site.

16 August 1983 of the year at the Caspian proving ground near the Buzachi Peninsula was held a “rehearsal of the Third World War” - a “star raid” of long-range aviation on a US carrier warrant. Crews of long-range aviation from the Tu-22M and Tu-16 aircraft made a salvo launch of three X-22Н missiles at the 710 target and two K-10С missiles at the 706 target.

One minute after launch, the plane was raised to inspect the targets, and, according to a report from the helicopter, a representative of the landfill service, A.S. Voronin, all missiles hit the target with a direct hit. 710-i, 706-i and 709-i targets were hit.

The launch of the missiles was covered by eight anti-aircraft aircraft for disinformation of ground reconnaissance posts and over-the-horizon radar stations located in Iran and Turkey.

August 28 1982 of the Tu-22M aircraft produced a new salvo of three X-22Н missiles. All three targets received a direct hit.

Thus, almost all launches of the KSR-77 and X-5 aviation cruise missiles were carried out on the 22 range, and only from the middle of the 1990-s began to be performed at the Northern (Lumbovka) and Pacific (Cape Tyk) fleets.


And what were the targets for cruise missiles? In the area near the Buzachi Peninsula and the Port Shevchenko were collected more than three dozen serving their term ships.

I will give a few examples of target ships. The cargo ship "Fioletov" (up to 1918 of the year "Kokkum") was built in Malmo in Sweden. Load capacity - 540 brt. The vessel along the Mariinsky system of rivers and lakes was transferred to the Volga River. From there, the ship through Astrakhan across the Caspian Sea arrived at the port of registry Baku. At the beginning of 1941, the ship was modernized and reclassified into an air defense vessel “VN-7” (armament: one 45-mm cannon and three 12,7-mm machine guns). In 1957, they wrote off and began to use it as a target ship.

The tanker Kaganovich was built in 1935 at the Krasnoye Sormovo plant (Gorky) and became part of the shipping company Kasptanker. Belonged to the Caspian Shipping Company, was assigned to the port of Baku. Decommissioned in the 1970-ies and was used as a target vessel at the Buzachi sea range.

The tanker Beria was built at 1935 at the Krasnoye Sormovo plant and became part of the shipping company Kaspanker.

The Chkalov steamer (up to 1937 of the year Grigory Artsruni) was built in 1894. In July, 1941 was mobilized, armed with one 45-mm and one 7,71-mm machine gun. Entered the Caspian Flotilla as a VN-10 air defense aircraft. After the write-off was turned into a target.

The story of all the ships of the “islands of the dead ships” may take a plump volume, so I will focus on the most exotic ones. In particular, on "foreigners." One of them is the German minesweeper M-3. Built in Hamburg in 1936 – 1938 years. Full displacement - 874 t. Transferred to the USSR on reparations. August 2 1946 of the year arrived in Sevastopol and entered the Black Sea Fleet under the number T-918. October 16 1957 was reclassified to a target ship. In 1959 year - transferred to the landfill number 77 for use as a target.

Were on the "islands" and submarines. Among them, the submarine W-402 "Herring" V-bis series. Built in Leningrad in 1933 year. The following year, disassembled into sections, delivered by rail to Nikolaev. 3 was assembled there September. 1935 of the year became part of the Black Sea Fleet. 16 June 1949 of the Year - Renamed to C-202. 17 February 1956, the boat was withdrawn from the Navy, disarmed and reformed into a training station UTS-11, and 16 on July 1957 was excluded from the lists of naval vessels and after conversion to a target transferred to landfill No. 77.

The long-suffering leader of the destroyers “Kiev” of the 48 project with a full displacement of 3 KT was launched as a target ship. It was laid in December of 1940, and in July of 1941, the ship under tow was taken from Nikolaev to Poti and then to Batumi. After the war, they tried to finish building it several times, but in the end they abandoned it and in 49, they sent it along the Volga-Don Canal to the Caspian Sea. They used it as a trial vessel. At the end of the 1955-s, “Kiev” was returned to the Black Sea, and at the beginning of the 1950-s was again transferred to the Caspian Sea.

In conclusion, it should be said that not only pilots, but also sailors conducted tests of cruise missiles in the Caspian. In 1959 – 1960 at the Sevastopol Repair Plant, the middle landing ship Ilet of the 572 project was converted into an experimental vessel OS-15. I note that in a number of sources "Ilet" is called a dry cargo ship. The fact is that KFOR of the 572 project is created on the basis of the 568 dry cargo project.

OS-15 had a full displacement of 1915 t, two diesel engines with a total power of 1600 hp allowed to reach speeds up to 12,2 nodes. A SME-142 launch container for the P-35 missiles and the Binom control system were installed on the nose. OC-15 was sent to the Caspian via the Volga-Don Canal, while the FMSE-142 and antennas were carefully disguised.


To support the operation of the 77 landfill in 1957, the 173 division of auxiliary ships was created. Among the other ships in the division in December 1957 of the year included a link of torpedo boats of the 183 project (the head boat TK-1253), which were transferred along the Volga-Don from the Black Sea.

In December, the 1960 of the year, the 273-I separate test squadron of the Northern Fleet was transferred to the Black Sea Fleet and flew to the Krasnovodsk airfield to provide tests for the P-35 cruise missile.

P-35 rocket launches from OS-15 were conducted in the area of ​​Shevchenko fort. The battlefield was located in 10 – 15 km from the coast at Cape Rakushechny, located in 140 km south of Shevchenko Fort. The main goals were the unfinished project leader 48 “Kiev” with a length of 127 m at an altitude of 5 m, the tanker “Nizami” with a length of 64 m with an altitude of 6 m and transport “Syr-Darya” with a length of 59 m with an aircraft of 4,5 m in height. Main the shooting position was on the traverse of Cape Bekdash.

The first launch took place on July 27 1960. The first series of seven launches gave unsatisfactory results and required improvement of the management system of the APLI-1.

Subsequent flight tests from the fourth quarter of 1962, on the trial ship OS-15 were more successful. One rocket, and with an inert warhead (without an explosive), was enough to drown the leader with a displacement of 2,5 KT. The rocket hit the left cheekbone of "Kiev", opened the deck like a tin can, the length was about 50 m, then the rocket collapsed , and its engine broke through the bottom, and after 3 minutes the leader sank.

16 August 1960 of the year issued a decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR No. 903-378 on the development of the Redut coastal defense anti-ship complex on the basis of the P-35 complex. The coastal missile complex received the index P-35B.

For the Redut complex, a mobile launcher SPU-35 was created on the four-axle chassis of the ZIL-135K (after transferring the production of the chassis to Bryansk - BAZ-135MB).

Joint tests of the P-35B missiles of the Redoubt complex were launched on September 7 on a special ground of coastal forces in Jafar near Krasnovodsk. Only the 1963-th OBRP of the Black Sea Fleet took part in them. After two start-ups, the unsatisfactory performance of the KR-51-7 engines and the on-board equipment was revealed, and further tests were transferred to the 300 year. In total, during tests in Jafar, by March 1964, the X-NUMX of the P-1966B missiles were launched. The targets used were ships from the “Isle of the Lost Ships” of Shevchenko Fort.

By the Resolution of the USSR Council of Ministers № 631-202 of 11 in August 1966, the Redut complex was adopted.

In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, and both of the “islands of the lost ships” ended up on the shores of the independent states of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

The ships pose some danger to navigation, and the issue of their withdrawal from the “battlefields” of the former test site number 77 is periodically raised. However, the intensity of shipping there is small, and no one wants to give money.

In the meantime, poachers and smugglers live on these islands. Moreover, the border guards learned to calculate the basing places of poachers for huge flocks of gulls, which are collected from the remains of ships, where fish are being cut.
21 comment
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  1. Hey
    Hey 6 December 2015 08: 36
    What is the difficulty of cutting ships for scrap?
    1. Argon
      Argon 6 December 2015 09: 10
      In most cases, this is not cost-effective, taking into account the set of measures for "safety", the cost of renting a dock / slip, the price of a transport component, and so on. ...
    2. Razvedka_Boem
      Razvedka_Boem 6 December 2015 09: 30
      The place of work should be fenced. When cutting on water, it is necessary to carry out calculations on the loss of stability when removing heavy sections and equipment. Inspections and measurements for the gases of holds, tanks, etc. must also be carried out. Workers carrying out the cutting of the ship must have high qualifications and personal protective equipment (gas masks, helmets, goggles, etc.). Also, often, transportation of the resulting scrap metal is a problem. In general, all this is not as simple as it might seem.
    3. dmi.pris
      dmi.pris 6 December 2015 21: 18
      What are we going to export? Camels ..? Transportation will cost more than scrap ...
      Quote: MUD
      What is the difficulty of cutting ships for scrap?
  2. Mcarrow
    Mcarrow 6 December 2015 09: 25
    Quote: Argon
    .On the territory of Russia, it is generally possible to make a profit from ship recycling only if a single industrial and economic metallurgical complex operates.

    This is all nonsense here, the Kola Bay and the surrounding area were cleaned by the "black diggers" at once and the metal was handed over to the bases and then to the port and foreign countries. There would be a desire
    1. Argon
      Argon 6 December 2015 21: 03
      My dear, you do not even guess how many of these "diggers" 15-20kg "flower plant" cost health, and someone else's life.
  3. Volga Cossack
    Volga Cossack 6 December 2015 11: 53
    interesting stuff. thank.
  4. xomaNN
    xomaNN 6 December 2015 13: 37
    Yes, not soon with our ex. fraternal republics, things will come to cutting for scrap. In the same Kazakhstan, megatons of iron remained in and around cities after the USSR.
    1. your1970
      your1970 6 December 2015 16: 05
      long ago the bulk of the metalists had already cleaned
      1. Bayonet
        Bayonet 6 December 2015 19: 00
        Quote: your1970
        long ago the bulk of the metalists had already cleaned

        Our name is mine miners! smile
  5. Ze Kot
    Ze Kot 6 December 2015 15: 51
    "After refueling when the Tu-16K-10 aircraft and the Tu-16ZShch tanker aircraft diverged, both fell apart in the air."

    Why not say they collided?

    In general, the article has an ambiguous feeling ... There is a lot of text, little help
  6. cobalt
    cobalt 6 December 2015 16: 31
    In Bangladesh, on the coast there is such a place where ships are dismantled for metal, an entire anthill conveyor, who are interested in looking on the Internet for a photo
    1. Razvedka_Boem
      Razvedka_Boem 6 December 2015 19: 00
      1. Alang, India: The Indian Ocean coast of Bhavangar State in India is a major center for world ship separation. The Alang coast is divided into 400 cutting sites, which simultaneously work from 20000 to 40000 workers who manually disassemble the vessel.
      2. Sitacunda, Bangladesh
      3. Gadani, Pakistan: Another of the world's ship recycling centers, located about 40 kilometers from the port city of Karachi.
      4. Aliaga, Turkey: Turkey’s largest ship recycling site is located in the west of the country.
  7. Talgat 148
    Talgat 148 6 December 2015 18: 52
    Poachers from Dagestan and Azerbaijan find shelter on these remains of target ships.
  8. Talgat 148
    Talgat 148 6 December 2015 18: 56
    More photos on the topic ..
  9. Talgat 148
    Talgat 148 6 December 2015 18: 59
    Another .. oilmen say there are many unexploded rockets. And even German anchor mines were seen ..
  10. Zlovred
    Zlovred 7 December 2015 02: 36
    Thanks for the article - a very interesting topic !!! I wanted in the future more pictures for the article. hi
  11. Polovtsian
    Polovtsian 7 December 2015 06: 07
    Islands of the dead ships
    Interesting stuff. Only now I do not agree with the author, these ships are not lost, they are alive. Previously, they promoted science and strengthened their defenses with their "lives", but now they "live" and "work" as "raspberries", "shelters", ...
  12. Alex_59
    Alex_59 7 December 2015 10: 35
    As I understand it, we are talking about "Seal Islands". I did not know that there was a landfill there. True, on satellite images in the area of ​​the islands, ship hulls cannot be seen.
  13. vvp2412
    vvp2412 7 December 2015 16: 55
    I put a minus, because the article is called "Islands of the lost ships", and the test of cruise missiles is described!
    Generally uninteresting!
    1. Sergey S.
      Sergey S. 12 December 2015 09: 06
      Quote: vvp2412
      I put a minus, because the article is called "Islands of the lost ships", and the test of cruise missiles is described!
      Generally uninteresting!

      Strange opinion ...
      Article plus.