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Russian rescue vessel in service since tsarist era takes to sea after repairs

During the Soviet Union’s Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany, the vessel was in operation in the Baltic Fleet
Kommuna rescue vessel  Alexei Pavlishak/TASS
Kommuna rescue vessel
© Alexei Pavlishak/TASS

MOSCOW, November 22. /TASS/. The rescue vessel Kommuna that has been in service for over 100 years has departed for the Black Sea after repairs and upgrade with modern equipment on its board, Fleet spokesman Alexei Rulev said on Thursday.

The Kommuna is the rescuer of submarines and a catamaran by its design. It is the Russian Navy’s sole operating vessel inherited from the Imperial Fleet and the oldest operational ship in the world. The vessel Volkhov (the original name of the ship renamed into the Kommuna in 1922) was laid down on November 12, 1912, floated out on November 17, 1913 and made operational in the Baltic Fleet on July 14, 1915.

"In accordance with the combat training plan, the crew of the Russian Navy’s oldest submarine rescuer of the Black Sea Fleet has started accomplishing missions at Black Sea practice ranges. Earlier, planned dock repairs and maintenance works were carried out aboard the vessel. The vessel has undergone modernization, as a result of which modern rescue equipment has been installed on its board and currently it continues performing inherent tasks as part of the Black Sea Fleet’s search and rescue forces," the spokesman said.

At the initial stage, works will be carried out aboard the Kommuna to measure physical fields, check the operational performance of all the shipborne assemblies and mechanisms and practice the rescuer’s defense in an unsafe roadstead, after which the vessel adapted for housing various types of deep-water rescue vehicles will test practical interaction for several days with the crew of the AS-28 underwater manned search and rescue apparatus and the team of the Pantera-Plyus unmanned vehicle.

"In order to improve the rescuers’ practical skills, a mock-up of a submarine coaming platform will be installed on the seabed at a depth of about 40 meters. Kommuna specialists will provide for the dives of the AS-28 vehicle, its approach to the mock-up and docking/undocking operations. Specialized diving ships and support vessels of the Black Sea Fleet have also been involved in the ongoing exercises," the Fleet spokesman said.

The Kommuna vessel was for the first time used according to its designation in 1917 to lift the submarine AG-15 off the Aland Islands. During World War I, the salvage vessel took part in the operation to raise the allies’ sunken British submarine and got praise from the UK government.

During the Soviet Union’s Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 against Nazi Germany, the vessel was in operation in the Baltic Fleet and provided for the repairs of submarines, including the docking of Malyutka-class submarines. In 1967, it was redeployed from Kronshtadt to Sevastopol.