Soviet Submarine Base, Estonia

May 2001


For fun, I thought I'd train it up to Paldiski to visit the former Soviet submarine base there.  The base is located on the Pakri peninsula, 50kms west of Tallinn.  During the cold war, the whole peninsula was off limits to civilians till 1994. The base was finally abandoned in late 1995 after the experimental reactors where decommissioned and encased in concrete somewhere and the last Russian soldiers disappeared.


Have to say, I think I got here about 5-6 years too late.  Paldiski was pretty decrepit and as much as I tried, I still couldn't find the entombed nuclear reactors, any submarines or anything else hugely interesting military wise (except ruined barracks, some bunkers and a very cool missile tower!).  


Still, it was interesting to see a whole town that originally contained 10,000 people basically emptied.  Today, only 2,500 people live there and it really resembles some kind of ghost town. 

Whole apartment blocks empty, buildings in ruins, nature take back what was once hers.


Whole day turned into a bit of an arty photo session.  Check it out.  Some photos are good.  Most ordinary but interesting none the less.


Empty or nearly empty apartment blocks in Paldiski

It's funny walking past heaps of apartment blocks not unlike the one above and seeing them empty or near empty - apart from a newish looking security screens and doors on some of the ground floor flats.


More blocks.  I only saw one or two shops whilst I was wondering around.  The whole town was bleak and crumbling.  There were people around but not many.  It was a Sunday but I could hardly imagine many more people during a weekday.


Munitions Storage Bunker

This was a some kind of bunker used for storing munitions.  The roof had disappeared and you you could see the floor plan.  Where bombs and bullets once must have been, a small flowering bush was growing.  A strange contrast to what was once stored inside.  Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture.  The thought only occurred to me a mile down the road.


Submarine Training Complex

This huge complex was the main submarine training centre.  Huge in size and once obviously very modern, it was abandoned and has been gutted by scrap metal dealers.  There were plans to use it for a police training facility but nothing came of the idea.  It's a shame to see what must have been a grand facility, go to waste.


From the side.  The place was surrounded by a fence and had [empty] guard towers along the perimeter.  I tried to get in via a whole in the fence but a mean looking security guy shooed me away.  


Surface To Air Missile Tower

Not completely sure but I think this was some kind of same surface to air missile tower.  The guide book said something like that was around.  Something was mounted on the top.  


Underneath the tower was a whole series of underground tunnels and rooms.  Unfortunately, I didn't have a torch to go exploring and finding your way around by camera flash was exactly the answer. 


Surface To Air Missile Tower (I think)


Field of flowers on the walk to the tower.


Tower up close.  Tried to climb up but the rusted old ladder was out of reach.


Observation port in undergrowth beneath the tower.


Observation port from below.


Inside.  Only noticed the paintwork because of the camera flash.   Due to lack of torch I couldn't go further.  Pity, because I like exploring stuff and doing Tomb Raider type missions.  Have now added a Maglite torch to my standard set of daypack exploring equipment.  


Tower from behind.  The tunnels underneath the tower extend all the way underneath the mound on the right. The pipe on top of the mound was possibly an exhaust for a backup generator.


Barracks and Bunkers

Hidden among the trees just off the road was another set of barracks protested by a couple of bunkers/guard posts.  Unfortunately, the photos didn't come out as clearly as I would have liked.


Small bunker/guard post at the entrance to the barracks or whatever else it was.


Back of bunker.


Graffitti on some kind of plaque.


Entrance to the building.  Note soviet star above entrance.


Remains of a guard tower.


Side view of entrance.  It's a pity the photo is so dark.


Buildings out the back.


Light Tower

Old light tower with an observation post off to the left.


Light tower.


Light tower from another angle.


Observation Post

I think this was some kind of observation post for keeping an eye on things out to sea.  Who knows?  Was pretty wrecked but had a bit of fun playing with the camera.


Observation post.  


Outside of shed on top.  Love the broken windows and grey peeling paint.




Inside 2.


Not sure what the ceiling was meant to be.  Points of the compass?


Fascinated by the the stairwell.  Took lots of photos with the flash on and off.


Flash off.


Flash on.  Looks like something off a shipwreck.



Light through the doorway #1


Light through the doorway #2



Main road.  Barracks barely visible to the left.


Closer up.


Barracks buildings.


Parade grounds now occupied by cows.  Weird.


Some kind of monument thing.


Close up of monument thing.


Random Buildings

Transformer building by the side of the track.


A church


The port.


The shoreline.  There was a lot of old concrete amongst the undergrowth but know telling what everything was.


Miscellaneous wrecked buildings and structures

Love this photo.  Wrecked telephone pole set against the blue sky.


Some old abandoned building by the shore.  No idea what it was for.


Well, you can tell I was getting bored.  Here's a picture of a drain.  Again, I was attracted by the decay and the water running through it.  Strange but true.


Wrecked building.


Another wrecked building.


Wrecked buildings again although the main building here was dug into the ground, reinforced and could have been some kind of ammunition storage bunker.  I was going to go inside and have a look around but there was a a group of dodgy looking Russian guys having a camp fire there so I moved on.


Wrecked concrete fence post.  Love this photo also.  


Large perimeter fence post.  Didn't turn out as well as I would have liked.  Too dark in the foreground.  I really need to learn more about photography.


Big crater.  Looks like the Somme.  The guide book said a lot of the buildings and things were dynamited when the Russians left and later by the government for safety reasons.    


Destroyed building.


Guard post at entrance to some facility. I have no idea what it was but this building had a bit guards keep watch over the main gate and an office with a heap of wrecked communications equipment.