Iconic Aurora cruiser to be stripped of all titles?
"Hostile whirlwinds are blowing over ..." the Aurora cruiser in Russia's St. Petersburg. The ship participated in the Battle of Tsushima and became one of the main symbols of the Great October Revolution. This is a brief summary of numerous letters, which the media, the government and the president himself have been receiving recently from activists of veteran organizations. Many Russian publications, including Pravda.Ru, began to figure out why veterans were strongly opposed to the plans to repair the ship, which currently operates as a museum.
According to publications in the Russian media, the Aurora cruiser will have to go on a new trip, which is going to be rather a long one for the old vessel. The cruiser is expected to leave for the repairing dock. The historical ship is to be repaired and upgraded in accordance with the official decision of the Ministry of Defense. However, veterans of the Soviet and Russian navy do not want the iconic ship to be repaired at all.
It is expected that in August 2013, the Aurora will set off on a trip to the Northern Shipyard. The second life of the upgraded cruiser is to begin in 2017, in 100 years after a shot from the forecastle gun of the vessel overturned history in the whole country. However, it remains unclear whether the Aurora could travel, or at least be tugged, on the Neva fairway.
With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the cruiser could have turned into a ghost ship. The Aurora was rescued owing to the reconstruction in 1987. The repairs included the replacement of the decayed underwater part of the cruiser. The bottom of the riveted hull was cut off like an old shoe sole, and the new steel nose copied the lines of the historical ship.
During the middle of the 1980s, about 50 industrial enterprises of Leningrad participated in the renovation of the Aurora. Many operations were performed free of charge, and at weekends. The hull repairs were finished to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Great October Revolution.
On February 7, 2013, reporters learned of the content of the Aurora report. The report was prepared by Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov. In short, the ministry intends to spend 400 million rubles ($14 million) for the first part of the works to restore unsinkable properties of the ship. During the second stage, which will last for two years, it is planned to equip the cruiser with modern means of communication and a diesel-electric engine. All is supposed to be done for the object, which only serves as a monument.
This is exactly what raises the eyebrows of Navy veterans, who want to investigate the mysterious plans for the Aurora. Judging by such global (and apparently unrealizable) plans, it appears that someone wants to take the monument at sea as an acting combat vessel. The total cost of the project is evaluated at 7 billion rubles, although it is an unconfirmed number. This money would be enough to build new ships rather than repairing the old one, a monument.
The Director of the Russian State Archive of the Russian Navy, Sergei Chernyavsky, does not understand the reason why all this has to be done to the ship that serves as a monument.
The main question is who needs this multi-billion affair with the vessel. Noteworthy, the plans saw the light during the time of the previous Defense Minister, Anatoly Serdyukov, who was shamefully dismissed from his position in a major corruption scandal. Billions of rubles disappeared without a trace.
The plans for the repairs of the ageing vessel distract attention from real problems of the Aurora. According to the chairman of the St. Petersburg Club of Submariners, Igor Kurdin, It is not the technical problems that threaten the ship, but the absence of a trained crew. It is worthy of note that the navy crew of the Aurora was dismissed under Minister Serdyukov and replaced with a civil crew
An expert on international law of the sea, famous historian and writer Sergei Aprelev told Pravda.Ru:
"This idea of a "big trip" for the historic cruiser is ridiculous. The upgraded Aurora will simply lose the title of the historic ship. It will be similar to the removal of the city of St. Petersburg from the list of UNESCO's world cultural heritage with the appearance of the Gazprom tower in the city.
"What will be the point of maintaining the ship, if it loses the historical appearance of a participant of the Battle of Tsushima? Another "upgrade" after the one conducted during the 1980s, will finally turn the historic vessel into a replica, and the Aurora will join the fleet of dummy monsters "decorating" the banks of the Neva River.
"The billions mentioned in the media would be enough to build not just one, but several modern ships, the architecture and interiors of which will not be ruined with technical achievements of another era."