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Sweet dreams, “Aurora” - St. Petersburg saw off the legendary battleship to repair works at Kronshtadt

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Today the ship no.1 left the Petrogradskaya embankment to return with a revamped outlook and a bigger exhibition. The defense ministry assured – the Battleship will not change in appearance, but the expo inside of it will be enlarged two-fold. Alexander Odintsov played witness to how the city saw off the legendary ship into repair docks.

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There was no other way that this ship – branded as “Number 1” – would have been let go. Its departure was accompanied by unofficial anthem at the Petrogradskaya embankment, cheers from young sailors, residents and guests of the city. Some were wide-eyed with surprise, others couldn’t keep emotions inside.

The special operation is started in a matter of minutes. 4 towing boats take the “Aurora” from its docking space into the big water. Across the Neva, into the Gulf of Finland, final destination is docks of Kronshtadt. 11 support vessels are taking part in the operation.

Alexander Odintsov, reporter: “The Petrogradskaya embankment got empty as quickly as the battleship left its permanent docking place. From now on, tourist routes and citizen’s favorite landmarks list will have one less place. And it is yet unclear how much time it will take for the ship number one to return to its place by the Nakhimovskoe naval school. Meanwhile, people are taking pictures at the empty embankment. This will be something for the archives – such scene has been missing here for almost 30 years”

Measures are exceptional for an exceptional historic occasion. Three tow boats are steering the “Aurora”. Troitskiy, Dvortsovyi and Blagoveshenskiy bridges are being raised during the day to ensure passage. Towing is careful – the currents are strong, and there’s a chance of hitting a sandbank. They slow down when they pass the Zimniy Palace. The huge battleship and towing boats must fit into a small passage. Along the embankments, tens of thousands of people are watching the operation

Yulia Tsivilko, resident of St. Petersburg: “All got used to the “Aurora” standing at one place. Like a symbol of our city, of St. Petersburg. And today is the day when everyone will understand that this is a genuine ship, not just a static monument” 

Stepan Mednikov, resident of St. Petersburg: “We prepared specifically for it. Our young one said he wanted to go and have a look at the “Aurora”.

Several generations have witnessed the “Aurora” making trips across the Neva. And the ship has always been met and seen off by the whole city. Here are archive shots of the battleship going into docks for repairs. That’s in 1984. However, Leningrad saw a very different ship after those repairs. But those who worked in the docks said they kept everything they possibly could. Now there aren’t as many works to be done – most of them will concern the underwater part of the battleship

Anton Gubankov, head of culture department of Russia’s Defence Ministry: “These types of ships – which stay in the water – their most vulnerable part is that lower part of the body. So it will be repaired first. Also, several machines will be replaced and there’ll be a new fire extinguishing system installed” 

It took the “Aurora” almost 5 hours to reach the destination. Almost at the finish line, the ship had to make a turn. It docked backwards, primarily because of dry docks technological peculiarities. Specialists say it will be more comfortable for them to work this way.

Besides, the “Aurora” already had a neighbor at the Kronshtadt naval factory. The “Krasin” ice-breaker docked here the day before. Mooring is pinpoint accurate here. It took almost an hour to place the “Aurora” onto special wooden bases with steel cages

Sergey Krestnikov, first deputy head of Kronshtadt Naval Factory: “The “Aurora’s” restoration work is – from a technical point of view – quite a typical volume of work. We are not expecting any technical surprises. We’ll be extra attentive”

The first step is the so-called deaffectation of the body. Specialists will straighten all bumps and fix all cracks. Then they will paint almost 3 thousand square meters with fresh, original grey paint. They will check all valves – also a very important part of the ship, because water must flow inside the ship to cool the machinery. In the first few days after the docking, it will become clear – how long St. Petersburg will be deprived of its revolutionary symbol. Meanwhile, there is no intrigue about the “Aurora’s” fate – it will remain as a museum. The contents will be different though – “red” rhetoric will be replaced by the history of the Navy as it is. Upon the example of one of its brightest pages – the “Aurora” Battleship

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