Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Lithuania - Plotstine Nuclear Weapons Base

Hidden deep in the forests of Zemaitija National Park is the first underground Soviet nuclear missle base which became operational on 31st December 1962. Its warheads had enough power to destroy most of Europe. For more than eight months ten thousand Estonian soldiers dug the site with shovels at night to avoid detection by US spy satellites. The missiles stayed here until June 1978 when the site when the site was abandoned and left to rot after discovery by US satellite photography

Rails allowed silo covers to be opened within ten minutes in preparation for launch

Entrance to the underground centre flanked by four missile silos

Control room with 'the button' .....here missles were ready for launch within half an hour of orders. Only twice were fully active warheads loaded and fuelled, firstly during The Cuban Missile Crisis and then again throughout the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia



Rest Room

Ventilation Room with the Lithuanian Soviet Flag. The 79th Soviet Rocket Regiment proudly served here and also in Cuba. The Ventilation Room allowed the Control Room to be sealed with enough air and power for three hours

Electrical Control Room

Site Generator

Passageway

All roads lead to Armagedon! One of four passages radiating out from the central control area to the launch silos

Its hard to believe the rickety steps and doors were the entrance to clamber into the launch silos
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Peering down a 28 metre deep silo! Each missle was 22 metres high including 3 metre long R-120 (SS - 4) thermonuclear warheads, each with a destructive power of 2.3 Megatonnes

Looking across the top of a launch silo - no computer guidance, a primative compass surrounds the rim allowing the medium range missiles to be targeted at European cities as far away as 2 500 kilometres with an amazing accuracy of no more than a few kilometres outwith the target

The remote site was protected by an outer and inner 1 700 volt electric fence, razor cables, dobermans, search lights and machine gun emplacements. For two decades the Lithuanian people knew little of this terrifying arsenal on their doorstep!

Nearby was the camouflaged rocket storage building. Rockets were secretly transported to Sevastopal on The Black Sea and then shipped to Cuba in September 1962 triggering The Missile Crisis

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