Fortunately, I found yesterday evening by myself that “Felix Dzerzhinsky” we already shortly discussed about above, was the cargo-passenger ship of “Andrey Zhdanov” type (5560-5670 t, 104x14.6x5.95 m, 12.5-13 knots, range 5000 miles, diesel RD-2400 1900 – 2400 hp, 42 men crew + 300 passengers). Six ships of that type (so called “London refrigerators”) were built in 1925-1930 by Soviet North Shipyard: “Andrey Zhdanov”, “Maria Ulianova”, “Felix Dzerzhinsky”, “Smolny”, “Cooperatsiya”, “Siberia”. They were used on Leningrad-London route in 1930s for the transportation of perishable goods in refrigerator holds and passengers (mainly the English), so for increasing the prestige of Soviet ships they had very comfortable cabins (with furniture from the most expensive woods, carpets) and restaurant, which were designed with the help of famous French painters and decorators. English Lloyd gave a highest qualification to those ships.
During WWII all six refrigerator ships were used as hospital ships, minelayers, military transports and bases for submarines. Three of them were sunk, three survived the war.
I. "Andrey Zhdanov"
was used as the large hospital ship at Baltic Sea since July 1941. Participated in dangerous navigations from Talinn to Leningrad (evacuation of civilians and soldiers). The ship exploded on mine (12 November 1941, Gulf of Finland) during his way from Kronshtadt to Khanko together with convoy for evacuation the Soviet troops from Khanko naval base. "Andrey Zhdanov" sank after explosion, 66 men from its crew were rescued by patrol boats, 7 were perished.
II. "Maria Ulianova"
was used on routes between USSR and England + France in 1930s. During the Spanish Civil War it evacuated many children of Spanish communists to USSR.
Also the ship participated in secret operation of NKVD to capture the previous general of tsarist Russia Miller, who emigrated to Paris and headed the anticommunist organisation of Russian emigrants. General Miller was narcotized by NKVD agents, put into the large suitcase as diplomatic goods to prevent the French customs examination and on board of "Maria Ulianova" (its captain received the secret order to stop the loading in French port, take the diplomatic goods and move to Leningrad) delivered to Leningrad, later he was killed in Moscow.
During the Winter (Soviet-Finnish) War the ship was used as military transport for Soviet landed troops and ammunition transportation to Petsamo port together with other civil ships, several times avoided the Finnish mines.
Later it was moved to Barents Sea and participated in WWII as hospital ship and base for submarines. It was lightly damaged by German bombs in August 1941. 26 August 1941 "Maria Ulianova" was torpedoed by German submarine U-571 (remember the movie?
) and lost its stern during the torpedo esplosion. The heavily damaged ship was towed to the port, but wasn't restored and was sent for remelting after the end of the war.
III. "Felix Dzerzhinsky"
was launched 29.08.1926, laid down 15.08.1928, accepted 13.09.1929. The ship was also used as cargo-passenger ship on Baltic and Mediterranian routes in 1930s. Between 01.11.1939 and 22.10.1940 the ship was reequipped as minelayer (Baltic Navy), was armed with 4 x 100mm; 4 x 45mm; 2 x 12,7mm; 18 depth charges, 328 mines mod. 1926 or 543 mines mod. 1912, and renamed "Ural" (25.09.1940, 220 men crew). It was one of the largest minelayers of Baltic Navy, used also as the base for submarines. In November 1941 "Ural" participated in dangerous evacuation of Soviet troops from Baltic naval base (Hango) after the German invasion, mined Gulf of Finland in June-September 1941. 13.09.1941 "Ural" was damaged by artillery shell, also damaged several times by artillery fire during WWII. 74 German and Finnish ships were sank by Soviet mines at Baltic Sea, including the Finnish strongest warship "Ilmarinen". Many mines were installed by "Ural". After WWII it was used as training ship till late 1950s.
Another "Felix Dzerzhinsky" - previous German cable layer for Atlantic Ocean, which was bought in Netherlands in 1930s, and after WWII was used by Soviets as the trophy. Those ship was really used for prisoners transportation at Far East. Its crew even planned to free the prisoners (many of them were Soviet soldiers after German concentration camps) and drive the ship away to Japan in 1948. But that plan was detected by NKVD agents.
Photo of minelayer "Ural": http://sovnavy-ww2.by.ru/minelayers/pic/ural.jpg
Picture of minelayer "Ural": http://www.warships.ru/MK-2/MK-11/ural.jpg
was used for Soviet volunteers transportation to Spain during the Spanish Civil War. The ship transported Soviet diplomatic delegation to the first conference of UN in San Francisco in April 1945. For that "Smolny" was equipped with powerful 15 kWt radio station, diesel-generator and parabolic antenna for the direct connection with Moscow via Khabarovsk, 17 radio operators and engineers operated the radio station. “Smolny” is preserved until now probably and serves as the hostel near one of the Far-Eastern Russian ports.
(laid down 18.08.1927, launched 14.07.1928, accepted 06.12.1929 by Baltic State Steamship Company, BGMP) was the very famous Soviet ship in 1930s, made 5 navigations to Antarctica and delivered back to USSR from USA the Soviet airplane ANT-25 and its crew after their non-stop flight from Moscow to Portland through the North Pole in 1937. In pre-WWII period the ship was used at Baltic and North seas (navigations to UK) and Mediterranian and Black Seas (navigations to France). During Spanish Civil War it was used for the transportation of volunteers, medicaments and food from USSR to Spain.
In 1939 (23.11.1939 was given to the North Navy) the ship was reequipped at Murmansk as the patrol ship. It was armed with 4 x 76,2mm + 4 x 45mm + 2 x 12,7mm and renamed as "Veter" with crew of 81 men. Disarmed and returned back to BGMP 29.12.1940 as "Cooperatsiya", mobilized again 30.06.1941 as patrol boat SKR-104 "Veter" of the North Navy (since 02.07.1941). Since 19.07.1941 - depot ship for submarines and torpedo boats. Survived the war despite several hits of German bombs, after WWII the name "Cooperatsiya" was given back and the ship was used again as civil cargo ship at North routes, also it transported Soviet and American scientists to Antarctic stations. Later the old ship was used on short-range routes at Black Sea till late 1970s!
was used as large hospital ship at Baltic Sea since 1941. It was heavily damaged by German bombs despite the red crosses on the sides and deck
. Ship was bombed 22 August 1941 (Gulf of Finland) during the way from Talinn to Leningrad with 890 wounded soldiers/sailors and 410 civilians. 900 men were rescued by Soviet destroyers and patrol boats, but 209 were perished. The heavily damaged ship (with destroyed engine and 30 degree list) was towed to Kronshtadt by rescue vessel, but the new German bombs sank it.
Photos and pictures of "Cooperatsiya":
(colour drawing of the combat between "Veter" and German bombers)
(photo of "Cooperatsiya" during the Antarctic navigation)
(WWII photo of "Veter" in camouflage colour)
Photo of the Soviet cargo-passenger ship of "Andrey Zhdanov" type (6 copies, 1925-1930)
is from http://newsletter.infoflot.ru/Articles/47/3.JPG
This is "Cooperatsiya"
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