May 4, 2012, uniting efforts of enthusiasts and Fertoing financial support, in the City of Military Glory Kronstadt there opened the Kronstadt Naval Museum exhibition of which is dedicated to the history of diving in Russia and Kronstadt military history of the ХХ century. The museum was opened ahead of an important anniversary — 130 years of the Diving service in Russia. The museum is a nonprofit project which main objectives are preservation of the diving history in Russia, history of Kronstadt, promotion of vocations of a diver and marine engineer.
The name Kronstadt is closely connected with establishment of the diving service in Russia as the first state military diving school was founded here on May 5, 1882. This date is the official diving service foundation date in Russia.
The building that houses the Naval Museum, one of the most beautiful in Kronstadt, located at 5, Andreyevskaya street, was erected at the end of XIX – beginning of XX century and belonged to Aleksandr Mikhailovich Britnev. His father, Mikhail Osipovich Britnev, established a private diving school here in Kronstadt in 1868-1869.
The exhibition occupies 2 rooms; the bigger one is devoted to the diving history, the smaller – to the Great Patriotic War, Siege, and Kronstadt military history.
The Museum houses a wide collection of diving equipment of different times, noteworthy, that all equipment is still operational. The collection comprises several diving helmets including the famous 3-bolt helmet (Russian “УВС-50М”) and 12-bolt coupled helmet. One of the most interesting and attractive exhibits of the XX century are 2 surface and submerged diver delivery vessels Proton and Proteus used for sabotage, saboteurs’ weapon, suits of underwater swimmers. Besides, there is ventilated diving equipment, breathing sets of different types and purposes, dive knives, personal divers’ belongings, documents, recovered cannonballs etc. To the display items belong a torpedo firing panel and a diving immersion suit with a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (Russian “ИДА-59”).
Wall-mount display panels show all milestones of the diving history in Russia from its very beginning: foundation and life of the Kronstadt Naval Diving School in pictures by K. Bulla (1913) of Central Diving Station of the Public Transport Committee, Special diving expedition (Russian “ЭПРОН”), vessel recovery operations, divers’ pre-war and Great Patriotic War trainings.
There is a special room devoted to heroic defense of Kronstadt and defenders’ life during the Great Patriotic War. Among witnesses of those hard times are: naval distinctive insignias, weapons and bullets, service medals, badges, uniform, damaged helmets, documents, front-line letters, domestic items of peaceful life – toys and bells. You will definitely remember a mortar, mounted machinegun, subgun, captured Schmeisser submachine gun, articles of German field clothing, pots, peak caps, knives, watches and other belongings of the Winter War soldiers.
Kronstadt siege exhibition, small yet touching and highly emotional, consists of a woman’s diary, bread coupons, currency of the 40-s, posters, certificates and letters.
Kronstadt military history is inseparable from the history of submarine fleet. There are pictures of submarines, dummies, naval uniform, headwear ribbons, badges, reed horn and even a torpedo-launching tube hatch.
The Museum houses a lecture hall for meetings, conferences to promote the Russian history and Kronstadt history in particular, diving service, marine archeology, military history among school children and teenagers. You can take pictures, try on pieces of uniform, diving equipment and feel as a real underwater explorer.
We have a rich library with trade publications, art books, books on naval and military history. Some of the diving magazines of the 1920-40s are represented here exclusively and almost impossible to find even in national libraries.
The Museum is equipped at a state-of-the-art level, in all rooms there are wide-screen monitors, wi-fi routers for Internet access and general data base (photos, videos, trade publications).
Kronstadt Naval Museum holds open lessons for school children of young and middle age to promote diving history, Kronstadt and naval history in general. The topics for such meetings are usually connected with milestone anniversaries.
Taking care of diving history preservation, museum staff set further goals: keeping marine traditions, rich culture and long heroic history of the Russian Navy foundation and development, continuity of generations and proper upbringing of the young.
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