Soviet Black Sea Nuclear HQ – Ukraine

Author sophos9 - Last updated: 28.11.2010

After I’d done the sanitised tourist attraction that was the Nuclear submarine base in Balaklava, I was well up for some real, down and dirty Urban Exploration.
“Object 221” is 18km away, half way up a forgotten mountainside. It is now abandoned, but was never finished. It was rumoured to be about 80% complete when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989.

This was set to become… The USSR Black Sea Navel Reserve Complex. So it’s a biggy…


If we divide the floor areas into 3 categories:
Entrance areas – 20m x 10m – Two of these = 400m²
Central Compounds –20m x 100m – Two of these per storey, eight overall = 4,000m²
Tunnels – 2,221m in length, 5m in width = 11,105m²
This makes a total underground area of 15,505m²

To put this into context:
London IMAX = 520m²
The House of Commons = 1547m²
Royal Albert Hall = 6,000m²
St. Pauls Cathedral = 8431m²

So yes, it’s huge.
There are no directions, no sign posts. When I found it on Google, it would only take a slight zoom out to completely lose it again. There is nothing even labelled remotely near it.


It was always suppose to be a secret, and still remains pretty unknown even in UE circles.

We were travelling back to Simferopol that evening, and we had no private transport. Nervously we asked the taxi driver “Can you drive us here” pointing to a ring we’d drawn in the middle of the forest.
“…Then wait outside for three hours…then drive us the remaining 80K’s to Simferopol?”…
“No Problems!” he replied in a thick Russian accent. Can you imagine asking that of a British cabbie?!

The road to the complex had been blocked to vehicles by a very new looking padlocked gate. This filled me with dread as the complex is now run by the Russian mafia for…well, whatever they need an underground complex for…

You can see the entrance block in the centre of this photograph.


We made our through the forest, climbing up the mountain side in the raging mid day sun. The view was somewhat breathtaking.


A massive admin building has been made entirely unusable in a very elaborate way – by knocking all the floors out, but leaving the walls standing.


The buildings have windows simply painted on them, to make it stand out less. As primitive as these look here, they actually look quite convincing from the valley floor.


Despite it being a good 28 degrees outside, the temperature dropped immediately upon entering the complex. It got colder, and colder the further we went in, until it steadied out at about 8 degrees.


The tunnels were huge!


They have been built to allow safe passage of Russian Kamaz trucks.


This base was designed to withstand a direct nuclear attack. I think this complex and the Balaklava submarine base tells us a lot about the military posture of the USSR even as late as 1989 when construction here was halted…..


I had entered the complex in the North East entrance, and had walked 500m or down the eastern access tunnel. Here’s the first ‘split’ junction. Without decent navigation skills, and any form of light it would be so, so easy to get lost in here.


One of the ‘dead ends’


Into the main compounds which sit at the deepest point inside the complex; This area was flooded.


Each of the rooms were separated by several blast doors, arranged into airlocks. As all the services hadn’t been installed when construction was halted, bizarre service holes surround the doors.



The compounds were four storeys high. We’d entered on the lowest level, and were able to look up the vast stairwells (now devoid of stairs) some 60ft up. Despite the normal route for humans being inaccessible, the vehicle ramp which spiralled up, much like you’d get in a multi-storey car park was intact, and we made our way to the top level.

The roof was curved, and encased in metal; Not only for structural purposes, but also to offer protection against EMP (Electro-magnetic-pulse) attack.


We made our way along the Western tunnel toward the light some 430m away:


As I began to tire, I had to snap myself back to the constant dangers around me. A flat level floor becomes hazardous when you’re 600m underground in the pitch black. The air was thick with broken asbestos (laying all over the complex). At some points becoming so thick, my torchlight formed a solid bar of light like a light sabre. I was thankful I had my respirator on:


Additional danger was never far away, and it wasn’t long before I started to stumble across a booby traps. Holes had been smashed through the slabs (the reinforcing bars had even been cut). These had been covered with polythene before being lightly sprinkled with gravel to appear seamless with the finish of the floor. We all walked the tunnels feeling the floor in front with sticks, like a gang of blind explorers. Occasionally the floor would give way, and fall 60ft down into the darkness below.


Unfortunately at the bottom of one such shaft we found the remains of this unlucky tourist. A poignant reminder if ever there was one.


Approaching the light.


Eventually we emerged into the blinding light. Some 700m along the valley from where we had entered the first ‘house’. Again, there was a similar structure with the same design of window painted on.


I stand triumphant, filthy and sweating, admiring the view, and reflecting on where I’d just been.


Now I’ve disappeared down some randomly positions holes before, but none as random as this!


I make my way back down into the darkness and retrace my steps, over a kilometre back into the Earth, wondering if the taxi driver really had just waited over three hours for me…

Written by urbanx

For more, please check out urbanxphotography


#1steveFebruary 5, 2011, 10:30 am

amazing, must be well scary…
was that a real body?


#2FRANCApril 21, 2011, 8:02 pm

yea thats what i was wondering…

#3ClintosMay 12, 2011, 10:12 pm

I’m not sure that your “respirator” is going to do much!

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