Pennant nr : W206
Build : 1955 by JSC PO Sevmash – Severodvinsk in the USSR, nr ??
Murmansk, not only a city in the extreme north-west part of the former USSR but also the name of a light cruiser which, despite the fact the cold war has been over for decades, is still haunting the inhabitants of the small town of Sørvær in Norway.
A bit of history first :
Between 1949 & 1955 the former USSR planned to build 30 ships of the new light cruiser project no. 68-bis-type (designated the Sverdlov class by NATO). They were the largest Soviet warships of the 1950′s and 1960′s, but they were obsolete even before completion.
Only 14 were completed when the plug was pulled on this project by Nikita Khrushchev as these ships were considered obsolescent with the advent of the guided missile.
Several were later modified as guided missile cruisers and command ships.
Back to our victim:
The Murmansk served the Soviet and later the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet from commissioning in 1955 till decommissioning in 1987, she was then laid up till 1994 when finally she was sold of as scrap to an Indian Scrapyard.
In december 1994 while on tow from Russia to India a severe winterstorm caught up with the tug & tow and the towline broke, the Murmansk drifted along for a few days while the Norwegian Coastguard, the Norwegian navy and the tug did their utmost best to stop the derelict vessel and tow her back to safety. Alas: no luck and on Christmas Eve the inhabitants of the small town of Sørvær got a christmas present they never expected.
The Murmansk stranded right there on the rocky coast, ironically as the new (unwanted) neighbor to the NATO radar station right there.
And there she remained for the next 15 years, slowly dissolving under the enormous forces of water, waves & winterstorms…….and corrosion, her keel slowly sinking into the seabed. Over the years the wreck with a length of 210 m , a beam of 22 m and a weight of approx. 17.000 tons has become a bit of a rusty landmark and in the mean time also became a kind of tourist-trap, for sightseeing and for diving. It is estimated that within a decade or 2 the above mentioned forces will at least reduce most of the parts above the water to non-existence.
But, after a lot of controversy about an alleged 400 tons of heavy fuel oil left in the wreckage and even a discovery about nuclear substances it is finally decided to remove the wreck and relieve the small community of the rusty burden on their coast.
Last summer (2010) the wreck removal operation started and as far as I understand they are building a dam and a drydock around the vessel, draining all the water out and then starting to cut the vessel in pieces in situ.
And everybody is invited to follow the progress: a 360 degree webcam taking 3-seconds freeze-frame pictures has been installed to document everything that is happening on the site. Later these images will be used in time-lapse form in a documentary about it all.
The images are published 24hrs later on this website : Murmansk Livecam.
Please note that the original b/w images above are not necessarily of the Murmansk but from other vessels of the same class.