A flooded ballistic missile launch facility

“Dvina” missile pits are one of Belarus’ two permanent nuclear ballistic missile launch sites. As opposed to “Chusovaya” launch facility, these pits are much worse preserved – after the nuclear disarmament of the country it was decided to flood the site.

Who did it and why is not clear. Probably, such drastic measures were a way to “save” the site from marauders, scrap metal collectors and other unwelcome visitors. Or maybe the several feet of black water are covering up a secret that we’ll never know.

Approaching the site. The forest drive that used to lead to the pits is now closed off with a makeshift barrier made of materials on hand.

Walking in the direction of the pits. The surroundings make you feel like you’re in some kind of a scary tale – there are huge trees growing on both sides of the road, pits filled with meltwater, stumps and deadfall here and there.

The surrounding woods were a secret no man’s land only 25 years ago.

Approaching the launching site. Here we come across another barrier – a log with a wavy line on it painted in reflective paint.

On a high point in the center of the facility there is a permanent fire position, a concrete machine-gun nest that was the last defense line in case the enemy captured the site.

And here are the pits themselves. The protective lids made of reinforced concrete have vanished. By the way, each one of those lids weights 460 metric tons – I wonder, how and when they were taken apart.

The concrete wall of the pit with various service openings and channels. The concrete is good quality and will probably still be here for many years to come.

The crater of the pit looks like a giant well. There are sticks and wood boards floating upon the black water.

Those who abandoned the pits tried their best to fence them off using materials on hand. The fencing is not very good, but it would probably protect animals from falling down the flooded pits’ craters.

There is part of the concrete cover left on one of the pits – it has probably been taken apart by hand.

The marking.

A destroyed machine-gun nest.

The entrance to the command and engineering center.

Inside there are hallways.

The stairs to the lower levels that are covered by water.

Quotes from Lenin’s work that complete the atmosphere of a nuclear shelter really well.

The other staircase also flooded. I heard a story of some divers going down into these black waters – I doubt there is something more extreme than that.

Another missile pit fenced with barbed wire wrapped around a tripod of logs.

The crater.

Some kind of venting passages.

Conducting a radiation level check.

The level is normal.

It’s time to leave.

Images by Maxim Mirovich

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