- Viktor Fedorovich, as is known, Russia associates an increase in the level of protection of its Far Eastern borders primarily with the development of Matua Island, located in the middle group of the Great Kuril Ridge. But there is only a square kilometer 52. In addition, the island is significantly remote from populated areas of Sakhalin and Kamchatka, uninhabited. For its arrangement it will take time, big expenses. Another thing is habitable and familiar "Cam Ranh" ...
- As a military man, I think that there is no excess defense capability. All means are good for this region, though far away, but our region, to paraphrase a classic, to live peacefully.
As for the Camrani, the base, due to the unique natural conditions, is considered one of the best deep-sea ports in the world. The peninsula from the north and south is surrounded by many small islands with a narrow "throat of entry." Natural military fortress. The total area of the water surface of the bay is about 100 square kilometers, the depth is up to 32 meters. All this allows you to simultaneously anchor 40 large warships and carriers.
Back in August 1886, the corvette of the Russian imperial fleet The “Knight” under the command of Captain 1st Rank Stepan Osipovich Makarov, making a trip around the world, visited the port of Kamran (then Pan-Rank). Our naval commanders immediately appreciated its merits and for many years, domestic ships more than once anchored here.
The construction of the naval base in the bay was first begun by the colonial French authorities in the 30s. As a result of the wars in these parts, the Japanese took over the base, then the French again. After they left, Americans entered South Vietnam. They actively intervened in the political processes in the country. 20-year-old brutal struggle filled with victims and heroism ended in victory for the people of Vietnam. The Kamran base was released on April 26 of 1975. I must say, the Americans have worked on its arrangement. They built an airfield with a decent (3,5 kilometer) runway capable of receiving all types of aircraft, including strategic bombers. There was a residential town for pilots, warehouses for ammunition and medical equipment. Shipbuilding workshops were built in the Bay of Binya Ba, paved roads. Despite the fact that the base was rear, it was well strengthened, especially from the sea. Here is a system of pillboxes connected by a single fire control network. At the entrance to the bay at the commanding heights of artillery batteries. Naturally, they also took care of anti-sabotage protection - the objects were surrounded by numerous minefields.
US President Lyndon Johnson twice personally inspected the base: October 26 1966 and 23 December 1967 th. Speaking to his soldiers and officers, he declared that the stars and stripes would fly over her forever ...
- How did it happen that the ships of the USSR were there?
- The USSR, many other countries with great sympathy for the struggle of the Vietnamese for independence, provided them with economic and military assistance. Our country and allies under the Warsaw Treaty delivered more than 5600 anti-tank guns, 316 combat aircraft, 23 S-75M air defense systems, two S-125 missile regiments, and almost 700 tanks, more than 70 ships and transport vessels, other weapons and equipment. In particularly difficult moments for Vietnamese friends, the Soviet government sent atomic submarines and warships to the South China Sea, which had a sobering effect on the aggressor.
As soon as the Americans left, we immediately began to show interest in Camrani. The first Soviet sailor, whose foot stepped on the base, can be considered Rear Admiral Valentine Kozlov, Head of the International Military-Technical Cooperation Directorate of the Soviet Navy. In December 1978, going with a group of officers to Vietnam, he received instructions from the commander-in-chief of the Navy Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union, Sergei Gorshkov, to carefully read the state of Camrani. Kozlov also had to probe the attitude of the Vietnamese to our desire to use it by Soviet ships serving in the Indian and Pacific oceans. He later recalled that the base impressed him with its facilities, stretching nearly a hundred kilometers. The Americans had everything there: concrete berths, a well-equipped ship repair shop, piers, an airfield with two runways, roads ...
2 May 1979, the governments of the USSR and Vietnam signed an agreement to share the base in Cam Ranh. The document was designed for a quarter of a century, before 2004, with automatic renewal every subsequent ten years. In April 1979 of the year, the first detachment of Soviet ships under the command of captain 1 of the rank of Cherivaty entered BAM Vasily Chapaev, the SKR-4 security guard and minesweeper.
- But at the beginning a logistics point was based there?
- Yes, it was the 922-th PMTO, which included, though not very militant, but necessary and sought-after organizations. These are services: food, clothing, financial, fuel and lubricants, marine engineering in the form of a department, KECh, automobile company, fire platoon, naval hospital, clinic, field institution of the Central Bank of the country, branch of Voentorg. Even then, they took care of the provision of electricity (installed diesel and gas turbine stations), drinking water (it was tense with it), and fresh bread. They built a good bakery, the smell of which the Vietnamese were free from service and work.
The crews of the ships of the Navy that came to the port could receive all the necessary supplies here, repair the equipment. Personnel rested, including on beautiful local beaches. Sailors and pilots serving in the tropics, it was necessary to quickly restore power, and here it was fully possible.
But the real combat service began after the formation of the 1982-th operational squadron in 17. It was based mainly in Cam Ranh. This immediately raised her status to the Navy.
- The formation of our operational-tactical squadrons of the time - the result of the intensity of the Cold War?
- Yes, but from our side it was a necessary response measure. The high probability of a sudden nuclear strikes on the USSR from aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines forced the leadership of our country and the Armed Forces to deploy powerful groups of the Soviet Navy in the World Ocean capable of preventing any possibility of "slander blows." The task was assigned to operational squadrons.
They monitored and tracked the carrier-based, missile, and other groups of the potential enemy in readiness with the start of hostilities to destroy him. In addition, much attention was paid to the reconnaissance of the forces and means of anti-submarine warfare, the opening of similar enemy actions. The most important task at that time was to ensure the safety of Soviet aircraft and civilian ships in the squadron’s area of responsibility.
First, the 5th operational squadron was established, based in the Mediterranean, then the 8th operational squadron entered the Indian Ocean. The Arctic and Atlantic oceans became the duty station for the ships of the 7th operational squadron. Gradually, the situation in the oceans was taken under our control. For example, in 1976, there were 38 ballistic missile submarines, 30 multipurpose nuclear submarines, 60 diesel torpedo boats and 111 large surface ships in combat service. Imagine what a force! Concerning aviation, then in 1985 alone, the Air Force fleets made over 4500 sorties in the ocean zone.
The 17-based operational squadron, based in Cam Ranh, took control of the Pacific Ocean. It included the 38-division of submarines, the 119-brigade of surface ships, the 255-th division of support vessels, the 300-th division of the ships of the water area protection, the 169-th separate mixed aviation regiment, the 501-th combat group with submarine sabotage forces and means, 1073-th communication center, other parts and organizations.
- It is believed that due to the convenient location of the Kamran base, the Russian operational squadron was able to "take over the USS" the US Pacific fleet and, despite the much smaller number in comparison with it, neutralize the threats.
- I am a supporter of another expression: put a gun to his temple. Yes, the natural military fortress Cam Ranh was very conveniently located and this made it possible to respond quickly to all movements of the likely enemy. At that time in the Philippines, at a distance of a thousand kilometers from us were a dozen American objects: the bases — among them were such powerful ones as Subic Bay (naval) and Clark (aviation), airfields, training grounds. Of course, in terms of the number of ships, aircraft and combat capabilities, they surpassed us, but we took not quality, but quantity. The training was at a very high level.
Only one episode. In the 169-th separate mixed aviation regiment there were only squadrons of anti-ship missile carriers, naval reconnaissance-target designators and a helicopter squadron. And there were no fighters, as American pilots knew well and behaved ugly. They intercepted our aircraft in close proximity to the base: they were dangerously maneuvering, showing obscene gestures, rubber women. With this insolence it was necessary to stop. First, pilots arrived from the USSR, then fighters (disassembled on ships). Airplanes, of course, secretly collected from the Americans and tested. A system of false radio programs, specially designed for the occasion, misled the enemy, at the same time reporting the movement of American fighters on a wired telephone, which, of course, was not tapped. Our overseas "friends" did not even know what to expect.
And now, at the command post of the 169 air regiment, a signal was received to detect an American fighter a hundred kilometers away. Squadron commander Lieutenant Colonel Semerov flew to meet him. He first retired from the "Phantom", and then, after targeting coastal radar at ultra-low altitude, he began to approach the object of attack. He approached secretly from the side of the sun, turned on the afterburner, and began to climb with the exit to the distance of the strike. And then in the calculated position he turned on the on-board radar, as if launching a rocket attack. The American pilot of our fighter did not see, but immediately felt the work of the radar station. He turned on the afterburner, made an anti-missile maneuver at full speed and disappeared in the direction of the ocean. Our pilots used a similar technique several times, and that was all. No one else intercepted Soviet aircraft over the base.
- What did you manage to adapt from the American inheritance?
- In general, a little. Used after the upgrade runway. Left after them, as they say in such cases, the structures of the berthing front and the water area, however, one of the two piers was damaged by an explosion, had to be repaired. Roads also seriously modernized - asphalted, equipped storm sewer ditches.
It can be said without exaggeration that we have built a new base. Most of the objects erected from scratch. Here are the numbers: only in 1987, by the way, this is the year of my arrival at the base, 440 (!) Buildings and structures were commissioned. The next year, the 1988, is 28, in the 1989, the 131 object.
In the arrangement of the territory, we have advanced much further than the French and the Americans. For example, however much they fought over providing fresh water to the base, they failed to solve the problem: they were taken “from beyond the sea” by tankers. And we found a suitable lake on the peninsula, cleaned it and laid water supply, organized the work of artesian wells.
It was built several hundred buildings of various purposes. Seven barracks, which housed the personnel of the logistics center and submarine crews, two canteens for a total of 500 seats. We provided the necessary base aviation facilities (headquarters, communications center, barracks). A naval hospital for 100 beds, an International Friendship House (cultural center) with a hall for 400 seats, a cinema for personnel of the PMTO, two sports campuses, a secondary school building 183 for 120 students, 16 houses for 700 apartments were built.
You can already imagine the scope of construction work, but this is a small part. After all, besides the facilities of the providing and rear services, the most up-to-date material and technical base was created, which made it possible to successfully solve the tasks for which, in fact, we were located in Cam Ranh. Squadron headquarters, communications center, an arsenal for the storage and maintenance of rocket armament, warehouses for missiles, mines of an aviation regiment, and liquid fuel (12 tanks and storages) were built. A modern power supply system has been created: the central diesel power station with a capacity of 24 has thousands of kilowatts, high-voltage power lines, and the necessary transformer substations. Logistics warehouses were built: two food, two clothing, three for technical equipment, as well as two refrigerators with a capacity of 270 tons.
I note that the listed objects were built on the most advanced technologies. For example, the arsenal for storage of cruise missiles was created taking into account the operation weapons in a tropical climate. The project has invested all the best accumulated in this area. There were facilities for storing cruise missiles, carrying out routine maintenance, and various stands. Our fleet has not yet had such an arsenal. But in connection with the collapse of the USSR, we never launched it, transferred it to the Vietnamese side.
- And who built - our or Vietnamese?
- At the very beginning, the military builders of the Pacific Fleet were engaged in this. And then everything took over the 22 of Zagrantekhstroy of the USSR Ministry of Defense. Unfortunately, very little is still known about him. It was a strong, I would even say, powerful organization that built unique military facilities in many countries of the world. 22 th Zagrantekhstroy established in Kamrani Soviet construction and installation organization, which I had the honor to lead.
Built with the Vietnamese. During the period of most intensive work (1987 – 1989) the number of employees in our organization was 2400 – 2500 people. The Vietnamese singled out for these purposes the 394 military building brigade of 4500 – 5000 men.
- Loss of personnel in Cam Ranh happened?
- Over the years the base has been killed 44 of our compatriot and 176 Vietnamese. We very much experienced every loss. A memorial has been created on the peninsula, on which their names are engraved. Among them, the crew of the Tu-95, the dead 13 February 1985 of the year, the pilots and passengers of the An-12, the 8 crashed on July 1989 on landing, the pilots of the famous Russian Knights aerobatic team crashed near Kamrani 12 December 1995, and others.
In general, the war, although it was called cold, was bloody. My colleague in Camrani, Rear Admiral Nikolai Matyushin, calculated that during the Cold War, our fleet lost more submarines than it did to the Russian-Japanese, World War I, Civilian and Soviet-Finnish combined.
“Why did we leave Cam Ranh and can we return?”
- We left because in those years our Navy practically ceased its activity in the World Ocean. On the instructions of the President of Russia, the Security Council then created a special commission, which concluded: we do not need “Kamran”.
But the agreement concluded in 1979 did not provide for an early break, we had to send a special note. The divorce process was finally completed on 2 on May 2002 with the signing of a protocol on the transfer and acceptance of objects.
After our departure, the Vietnamese reconstructed the runway and use it as Camran international airport. As for the naval component - there are no obstacles here, I think. Prime Minister Nguyen Suan Fook noted that the Russian Federation is a strategic partner of Vietnam and we "must use the existing potential in order to develop in the interests of both countries." With this attitude, no problems are terrible.
- To you came the Vietnamese, what was the conversation?
- Now Vietnam is becoming an increasingly open country and the tourist business is one of the main directions of economic development. But there is a problem - environmental. The Vietnamese, who had to defend their independence for decades in arms, simply had no opportunity to pay attention to it. Moscow belongs to those world capitals in which the problem of waste disposal, wastewater treatment is at a high level, so our colleagues very carefully got acquainted with our technologies. I think the experience of our builders, both civil and military, will be in demand. There is no doubt that Russia will once again return to the Kamran naval base.