Linear icebreaker "A. Mikoyan "(continued)
CM. Sergeev, commander of the icebreaker "A. Mikoyan"
The dark night of November 30 fell. The windlass quietly began to work, and the anchor-chain slowly crept into the hawse, the icebreaker began to slowly move forward. As soon as the anchor broke away from the ground, Sergeev gave a "low speed". At night, the Mikoyan slid like a silent shadow away from the shore. Coming out into the fairway, the commander gave "full speed". In order not to run into boats floating without any lights or any floating object in the dark, Sergeev ordered additional observers to be posted on the bow and on the sides. In the dark, the smoke pouring from the chimneys was not particularly noticeable. Moreover, the stokers tried their best - not a single spark flew out of the pipes. Fortunately, it was soon drizzling rain. Half an hour later, Istanbul was left behind.
In pitch darkness, without lights, they passed the Sea of Marmara, and came to the gorge of the Dardanelles. The strait is winding and narrow, navigation is rather difficult in terms of navigation. Experienced pilots guided ships here with great care even during the day. And the icebreaker went without a pilot at all. In the middle of the strait, near Canakkale, sailing conditions are extremely difficult, especially at night - here the strait sharply narrows to 7 cables and makes two sharp turns. In the most dangerous place, the captain-mentor I. A. Boev stood at the helm and successfully led the icebreaker. They went further, adhering to the European coast.
We went out to the Aegean Sea. "Mikoyan" rushed to the south at full speed. In the morning, almost as closely as the depth allowed, they stuck to the rocks of a small, deserted island in the Edremit Bay. The boilers were extinguished so that the smoke from the chimneys would not give themselves out. The icebreaker overlooked the island of Lesvos with the Italian naval base Mytilini located on it. The day passed in anxious anticipation, but no one appeared nearby, only far on the horizon several times they noticed the silhouettes of ships flashed by. Everything turned out well.
As soon as it got dark, the Mikoyan set off. Ahead lay the islands of the Greek Archipelago. SM Sergeev immediately took the icebreaker off the once "knurled" route, usual in peacetime, and took it along the route developed in Istanbul. They walked without running lights, trying to stay closer to the Turkish shores, meandering between mountainous islets, risking every minute in the dark, on an unfamiliar fairway, to run into an underwater rock or mine. Outside observation was intensified: the "lookouts" were on watch on the tank, the signalmen were in the "crow's nest". We walked by reckoning, although inclement weather helped to be unnoticed, but hid the landmarks. As soon as daybreak began, they hid in a wide crevice of a rocky island. Preparing for battle, craftsmen prepared weapons in the ship's workshop - they forged several dozen pikes and other edged weapons. The radio operators constantly listened to the air: did the alarm go up. Another day passed in tense anticipation.
With the onset of darkness, the icebreaker continued on its way in the darkness of the night. Near the island of Samos "Mikoyan" passed literally under the nose of the Italian patrol ships, which illuminated the sea with searchlights. Only fresh weather, slanting rain and poor visibility helped our sailors. We passed safely only two miles from the enemy naval base. We stopped for the day, squeezing into a crack between the rocks of two deserted islets. There was no doubt that the enemy was looking for the missing icebreaker, the sailors were preparing for the worst.
On previous nights, our sailors were lucky, the weather was inclement, and the Italians, not the Germans, controlled the Aegean Sea, there were no locators either. Therefore, the icebreaker, not surprisingly, remained undetected. But on the third night of the evening, surprisingly clear weather set in, the full moon shone in the night sky. And in front was the island of Rhodes, which was the main naval base of the Italians in this area of the Mediterranean. German aviation was also based here, bombing the Suez Canal and British bases and ports. This was the most dangerous place.
On December 3, the icebreaker cautiously emerged from its shelter and rushed at full speed to the breakthrough. Hostile Rhodes was approaching. "A. Mikoyan" entered the strait between the Turkish coast and the island of Rhodes and headed for the small island of Castellorizo, beyond which the Mediterranean Sea opened.
First, a small schooner appeared, and for some time walked not far away, and then turned aside and disappeared. Soon a reconnaissance plane appeared, circled the icebreaker several times and flew over it, the pilot apparently looked out and determined if there was any weaponry, and flew towards the island.
It became clear that the Mikoyan had been found and identified. From the bridge, all posts received an order from the commander: - if the Nazis try to seize the icebreaker and try to climb to the upper deck, beat them with crowbars, pikes, axes, hooks, beat them until at least one of the crew is alive. Kingstones open at the very last moment, when there will be nothing to defend with and no one to. An alarming expectation was set on the Mikoyan. Time seemed to slow down. The sailors gazed at the vastness of the sea and the heavenly heights with pain in their eyes. The tense silence was broken by the loud cry of the signalman from the crow's nest.
- I see two points!
On the bridge and on deck, everyone began to look in the direction indicated.
- Two torpedo boats are coming at us! the signalman shouted again.
“Italian,” said senior assistant Kholin.
The battle alarm sounded and everyone fled to their places. The huge, slow-moving and unarmed icebreaker did not have the slightest chance of getting away from two high-speed boats, each of which had two torpedoes.
The boats were approaching. Chief boatswain midshipman Groisman hung out the Turkish flag just in case. But it was not possible to outwit. There were no such ships, let alone an icebreaker, in Turkey. The boats approached at a distance of less than a cable and lay on a parallel course. One of them asked through a megaphone in broken Russian.
- Whose ship?
By order of Sergeev, the boiler mechanic, the Crimean Tatar Khamidulin, who knew the Turkish language, shouted an answer in the direction of the boat into a megaphone.
- The ship is Turkish, we are going to Smyrna! What do you need?
In response, a machine-gun burst thundered for an ostracism, but Khamidulin managed to hide. A command sounded from the boat.
- Immediately follow to Rhodes under our escort!
On the Mikoyan, no one even thought to carry out the orders of the enemy, and he continued to follow his course. Then the boats began to prepare for torpedo attacks. The Italians knew that the icebreaker was absolutely unarmed and acted fearlessly. The first boat, clearly counting on success, rushed into the attack, as at a training ground. And it was here that the commander came in handy with the extraordinary maneuverability of the icebreaker and the experience gained in battles in evading enemy attacks. As soon as the boat reached the calculated point of fire, a second before the volley, the command of the commander was heard: "Rudder on board!" When the boat fired two torpedoes, the icebreaker was almost on the spot already turning towards the deadly cigars, and they passed along the sides. Coming out of the attack, the boat fired at the icebreaker from a machine gun. Then the second boat went on the attack. But he acted differently - he first fired one torpedo. At the moment of the volley, all three vehicles were practicing Full Backward. The icebreaker almost stopped, and the torpedo passed close to the bow. And on the bridge the machine telegraph was already ringing: "The most complete forward."The second torpedo, fired at intervals, passed by, almost catching the stern.
The boats did not lag behind, opened fire from all machine guns and small-caliber cannons. The boats came closer and closer to both sides. The on-board broadcast commander ordered: "Prepare the ship for sinking!" But the boats soon stopped firing and moved aside. The sailors were delighted with this, but, as it turned out, prematurely. Three torpedo bombers appeared, called out over the radio by the failed boats. The first immediately went on a combat course, a torpedo could be seen under its fuselage. The situation seemed hopeless. And then the unexpected happened. Senior hold Methodiev rushed to the water monitor and switched it on. A powerful wall of water, shining in the moonlight like silver, like an explosion, suddenly splashed out towards the plane. The pilot turned abruptly and, gaining altitude, dropped a torpedo, which fell far from the icebreaker. In the same way, the second torpedo bomber was knocked off course. A third dropped a swirling torpedo by parachute, which began to describe a death spiral. But with a quick maneuver, Sergeev managed to evade her. He turned the ship in the opposite direction, and then turned sharply to the side. The torpedo passed by.
Unsuccessful torpedo attacks enraged the enemy. Now they could not sink the icebreaker, and they did not dare to board. Firing from all machine guns and small-caliber cannons, boats and planes pounced on the icebreaker. But its body was invulnerable to bullets and small-caliber shells. The boats and aircraft realized this and concentrated fire on the bridge and wheelhouse, trying to disrupt control. The injured helmsman of the senior Red Navy sailor Ruzakov was taken to the infirmary, and the helmsman Molochinsky took his place. Poleshchuk, the wounded signalman sergeant major of the 2nd article, gasped and fell onto the deck. Senior political instructor M. Novikov was wounded …
Having used up the ammunition, the planes flew away, but the boats continued to conduct fierce shelling. Fires began to break out at Mikoyan in different places. The sailors of the firefighting groups under the leadership of the senior assistant commander Lieutenant-Commander Kholin, ignoring the shelling, extinguished the fires. But that was not so bad. Due to numerous holes in the pipes, the draft in the boiler furnaces fell. Despite all the efforts of the stokers, the steam pressure in the boilers began to drop, and the rate gradually began to decrease. A serious danger looms over the icebreaker.
For several hours, dodging continuous attacks, "Mikoyan" stubbornly walked towards its goal. Fortunately, the weather began to deteriorate, clouds hung over the sea, the wind rose, waves appeared (obviously, the weather did not allow planes to be lifted into the air again). But the enemy did not stop, from his next turn a rescue boat caught fire, in the tanks of which there were almost two tons of gasoline, the explosion of which could have serious consequences. Noticing the high flames and thick smoke covering the icebreaker, the Italians decided that it was all over with it. But they were wrong. The sailors rushed to the burning boat, chopped off the mountings. The boat was thrown overboard before it exploded, raising a column of fire and debris. And at that moment, a shower of unthinkable power began. Under his veil and managed to break away from the enemy. Taking the explosion of the boat for the death of the icebreaker, the Italians lifted up some debris, a lifebuoy with the inscription "Mikoyan" and left for Rhodes.
When the danger had passed, they began to put the icebreaker in order, to correct the damage received. First of all, they began to repair the holes in the pipes in order to create traction in the boiler furnaces and increase the stroke. They began to hammer hastily made wooden plugs into the holes, everything that came to hand. But all this quickly burned up in the heat of incandescent gases. I had to start all over again. And at the boilers, exhausted, the stokers worked, throwing coal into the insatiable furnaces. "Mikoyan" survived, having received about 150 different holes, continued to move towards its target.
As soon as the coast of Cyprus appeared on the morning of December 4, British destroyers with pointed guns rushed to meet them. Senior Lieutenant Hanson contacted his ships by radio and soon everything was clarified. It turned out that the radio stations in Berlin and Rome had already managed to inform the whole world about the destruction of a large Soviet icebreaker. Believing this message, the British mistook the icebreaker for an enemy ship. The British did not doubt for a minute that the Soviet adventure with a breakthrough would end in the inevitable death of all four ships. Therefore, they did not expect to see the icebreaker. Accompanied by destroyers Mikoyan, having covered more than 800 miles, arrived in Famagusta. It was scary to look at the icebreaker. Tall pipes were burnt, smoke was streaming from the numerous hastily repaired holes. The bridge and superstructures are riddled with holes. The sides are stained with hit pockmarks. The upper deck, covered in teak wood, strewn with smoke and soot, was almost black. The GKO task for a breakthrough to Cyprus was fulfilled. What was reported through London to Moscow.
The British greeted the Mikoyan unfriendly, did not allow to enter the port, ordered to anchor behind the booms. Captain Sergeev demanded an immediate clarification. At any moment, the ship could be attacked by an enemy submarine or aircraft. A representative of the British naval command arrived on board. I looked at the holes received and informed the commander that the Mikoyan should immediately weaken the anchor and go to Beirut under the escort of a corvette. The ship, which withstood an unequal heavy battle with the enemy, was not given the opportunity to patch holes and repair damage. We reached Beirut calmly. But here, too, they received an order: without stopping to continue moving to Haifa. This surprised the commander of "Mikoyan", he knew that Haifa was subject to frequent raids by German aircraft. In Haifa, they said goodbye to the captain-mentor I. A. Boev. Having completed his task, he returned to his homeland.
Here "Mikoyan" was at the pier for repairs. But less than two days later, the port authorities demanded to change the place of anchorage. A week later I had to move to another place. In 17 days, the ship was rearranged 7 times. It became clear to everyone: the British were using a Soviet ship to check for magnetic mines in the port.
The renovation was in full swing when a disaster struck at the port. Many warships, transports and tankers have accumulated in Haifa. On December 20, a powerful explosion thundered in the port and a powerful blow shook the Mikoyan. Almost at the same time, the ship's bells rang out loudly, announcing an "emergency alert." The sailors who ran out onto the deck of the icebreaker saw a terrible picture - the tanker "Phoenix", as it was established later, was blown up by a bottom mine. Fire and thick smoke rose above him. There was a second explosion, breaking the tanker's hull in two, and it went into the water, slowly drifting towards the Mikoyan. From the fractured hull, thousands of tons of burning oil poured onto the surface of the water, which began to engulf the icebreaker in a ring of fire. The stern part of the Phoenix was on fire, and on the bow the surviving sailors crowded and shouted, some of them jumped into the water, swam, trying to escape to the shore or to the Mikoyan.
The icebreaker could not move - out of three machines, two onboard were under repair and were dismantled, and the stern machine was in a "cold" state. There was only one boiler in operation. The slightest delay threatened with inevitable death. The sailors rushed to the jet monitors and with powerful jets of water began to drive away the burning oil and shoot down the flames. We gave up the mooring lines. The stokers rushed to the boiler rooms - to urgently breed steam in the boilers; machinists - in the engine room to prepare the car to move.
For three days, a huge fire raged in Haifa. Our sailors were surprised that neither the British command nor the local authorities even tried to fight the fire. As soon as the fire went out on its own, the senior naval commander in Haifa sent the commander of the Mikoyan, Captain 2nd Rank Sergeev, a "Letter of Appreciation" in which he expressed admiration for his courage and daring. Manifested by the crew in a particularly dangerous situation. In the newspapers published in Haifa and Port Said, the British government expressed deep gratitude to the Soviet sailors for saving the British soldiers. When the consequences of the unprecedented conflagration were more or less eliminated, repairs continued on the icebreaker.
On January 6, the Mikoyan left Haifa and headed for Port Said, where a convoy of ships was being formed to cross the Suez Canal. On January 7, the icebreaker, taking on board the pilot, moved further south. We sailed into the Red Sea and anchored in the harbor roadstead. Here, by agreement with the British, guns and machine guns were to be installed on the Mikoyan. But the British did not fulfill this important condition of the treaty, they only installed an old 45-mm cannon, suitable only for a salute, from which they conducted a firing practice. Then, in order to make the icebreaker look like a well-armed vessel, our sailors went for a trick. Logs were obtained from the local Arabs. And the boatswain's crew from these logs and tarps made on the deck a semblance of powerful artillery installations. Of course, these fake guns will not bring any benefit, but when they meet an enemy ship, they may overtake fear.
After anchorage in Suez, the icebreaker went on, passed the Red Sea and arrived in Aden. But by this time the situation in the world had changed for the worse. When we left Batumi, there was peace in the Far East. On December 7, 1941, Japan suddenly attacked the naval bases of Great Britain and the United States, and the war also engulfed these areas. The sailors learned that on December 8, the Japanese government declared the La Perouse, Korean and Sangar Strait as its "naval defensive zones," and took control of the Sea of Japan and all its exits. Japanese ships sunk and seized Soviet merchant ships. Thus, the shortest route to the Far East for "A. Mikoyan" became practically impossible. In these conditions, it was decided to go south to Cape Town, and further west, to their native shores. And then the allies once again rendered a "favor" - they refused to include "Mikoyan" in their convoy, citing the fact that the icebreaker is slow-moving and smokes too much.
On February 1, 1942, in spite of everything, the Mikoyan left Aden and sailed south alone, heading for the Kenyan port of Mombasa. One day, ships appeared on the horizon. An alarming half hour passed before the situation cleared up. An English reinforced convoy of thirty pennants was on a collision course. It consisted of cruisers, destroyers and other warships escorting transports. Two cruisers separated from the convoy, turned their guns in the direction of the Mikoyan, and requested callsigns. Apparently, the British took the dummies of the guns as real.
- Give callsigns, - ordered Sergeev.
The cruisers approached a few more cables. One of them settled in the wake. The lead cruiser demanded to stop the vehicles.
- Stop the car! ordered Sergeev.
At that moment, the lead cruiser fired a volley from the bow turret. The shells landed at the bow of the Mikoyan. From the cruiser, requests rained down: "Show the name of the ship", "Give the name of the captain." "Who sent you from Aden." Having figured it out, the British were allowed to follow their course. The further voyage to the port of Mombasa passed without incident. During our stay at the port, we replenished our stocks, first of all, with coal.
We went further, walking along the Indian Ocean along the eastern coast of Africa. The tropical heat wore out the crew. It was especially difficult to keep watch in boiler rooms and engine rooms, where the heat rose to 65 degrees. The stokers and machinists doused themselves with water, but this did not help much. March 19 came to Cape Town. We replenished stocks, loaded more than 3,000 tons of coal in excess of all norms. Mikoyan was ready to move on. The British command informed S. M. Sergeev of the situation in the Atlantic Ocean. German submarines operate on the Cape Town - New York line. Since the beginning of the year, they have shifted their actions from the shores of Europe, first to the east coast of the United States, and then to the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, the Antilles and Bermuda. The German raiders Michel and Stire are believed to be operating in the South Atlantic. The path to the Panama Canal proved to be extremely dangerous.
And then Sergeev decided to deceive the German intelligence, which, as he believed, was operating here. To this end, he informed local reporters that Mikoyan was on its way to New York. This message was published in all local newspapers and broadcast on the radio.
On the night of March 26, the icebreaker left Cape Town, silently weaving anchor. To be on the safe side, they really went to New York for some time. But in the desolate region of the Atlantic, they changed course. Sergeev chose another, longer path - to go around South America, and go to the Far East in the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean. The icebreaker went to the shores of South America. We were caught in a band of violent storms. The pitching reached 56 degrees, the ship was thrown like a splinter. Sometimes the ocean would calm down to collapse with renewed vigor. The bow superstructure was damaged, the heavy steel doors were ripped off and carried into the ocean. These were the "Roaring Forties" notoriously known to sailors. This went on for seventeen days. In constant violent storms, they crossed the Atlantic Ocean and entered the Gulf of La Plata. The sailors breathed a sigh of relief.
We passed the rusted superstructures of the German heavy cruiser "Admiral Graf Spee", which had died here in December 1939. We approached the Uruguayan port of Montevideo. Sergeev requested permission to enter the port. But in response, he was told that the authorities did not allow warships and armed vessels to visit the port, because the fake "guns" of the icebreaker looked so impressive. I had to call a special representative to convince the port authorities that the "weapons" were not real. Only after that they received permission to enter the port.
In Montevideo, we replenished stocks, carried out the necessary repairs, and after resting we hit the road. And in order to deceive the German intelligence, they defiantly headed north. With the onset of darkness, they turned around and headed south at full speed. Cape Horn was in great danger of being attacked by German raiders or submarines. Therefore, we went to the Strait of Magellan, which is rather difficult and dangerous for navigation. In frequent fogs, past Tierra del Fuego, calling at the port of Pointe Arenas, they passed the strait, entered the Pacific Ocean and headed north. Rushing, with short calls at the ports of Coronel and Lot, arrived at the Chilean port of Valparaiso, replenished stocks, conducted an audit of boilers, machines and mechanisms. After a short rest, they continued their journey north, heading for the Peruvian port of Callao. Replenished supplies, and went to the Panamanian port of Bilbao. Replenished supplies and went to San Francisco.
The icebreaker arrived in San Francisco and then moved to Seattle for repairs and armaments. The Americans quickly and efficiently repaired the ship. They dismantled the British cannon and thoroughly armed them: they installed four 76, 2-mm guns, ten 20-mm anti-aircraft guns, four 12, 7-mm and four 7, 62-mm machine guns.
From Seattle, the Mikoyan headed for the port of Kodiak in Alaska. From Kodyak I went to the port of Dutch Harbor on the Aleutian Islands. Leaving Dutch Harbor, "Mikoyan" rounded the Aleutian Islands to the north and headed for its native shores. Finally, the outlines of distant shores appeared in the haze. A deserted coast appeared - the Chukotka Cape. On August 9, 1942, the Mikoyan entered the Anadyr Bay.
The rest of the crew was short. Almost immediately I received a new combat mission. In Providence Bay, 19 (nineteen) were awaiting his arrival! transports with weapons, ammunition and other military supplies, and warships of the Pacific Fleet: the leader "Baku", destroyers "Razumny" and "Enraged". “A. Mikoyan” was appointed as the regular icebreaker EON-18. In essence, this was the task to complete which the ship traveled this way from Batumi.
Back in June 1942, the State Defense Committee decided to transfer several warships from the Far East along the Northern Sea Route in support of the Northern Fleet. On June 8, by order of the People's Commissar of the Navy No. 0192, a special expedition - 18 (EON-18) was formed. The commander was appointed Captain 1st Rank V. I. Obukhov. On July 22, warships arrived at Provideniya Bay, where 19 Soviet transports arrived from the United States with military supplies. Ahead was the Northern Sea Route.
On August 13, "A. Mikoyan" and 6 transports left the Providence Bay, and the next day, warships. The expedition gathered in Emma Bay in Chukotka and continued on its way. The Bering Strait passed in thick fog. We skirted Cape Dezhnev and entered the Chukchi Sea. On August 15, at 16:00, we passed Cape Uelen and entered fine ice with a density of 7 points. With each mile, the ice conditions became heavier. It was foggy, and the ships continued to move with difficulty. On August 16, they were forced to stop until the situation improved, among 9-10 point old ice drifting to the southeast. By the morning of August 17, the movement of ice scattered the ships from each other.
The destroyer "Razumny", which was next to the leader "Baku", was carried away from him by 50-60 cables. In the most difficult position was "Furious". He was caught in ice, and he began to drift towards the shore. The leadership of the expedition feared that the ship might end up in shallow water, inaccessible to the icebreaker. Attempts by "A. Mikoyan" to rescue "Enraged" from the ice captivity were unsuccessful. On the contrary, the work of the icebreaker increased the ice pressure on the destroyer's hull, which had dents in the skin of both sides. It became clear that "A. Mikoyan" alone could not cope with the wiring of such a number of warships and transports. I had to fight with 9-10 point ice fields, then rescue the destroyers, then rush to help the transports. The icebreaker “L. Kaganovich” came to the aid of "A. Mikoyan" from Provideniya Bay, which approached on 19 August. Bypassing the ice massif from the north, the EON-18 ships joined the convoy of transports in the area of the Serdtse Kamen cape. Further progress took place along the coastline in thin ice. On August 22, beyond Cape Dzhekretlan, the ice became lighter, and there was already clear water on the way to the Kolyuchinskaya Bay. With separately floating ice floes. We approached the Lok-Batan tanker at anchor and began to receive fuel. At the same time, we took food from the Volga transport.
On August 25, having passed Cape Vankarem in the heavy ice, the ships EON-18 lay in a drift until dawn. At night, a strong wind caused the ice to move, ships and transports were trapped in hummocks. How difficult the conditions turned out to be can be judged by the fact that even at the icebreaker "L. Kaganovich" the rudder stock was turned 15 degrees.
Only five days later, the icebreakers managed to bring the leader "Baku" and the destroyer "Enraged" out of the heavy ice into clean water. Both ships were damaged (screw fittings were torn off, dents in the sides were received, tanks were damaged). Having made their way through the heavy ice, they replenished the fuel supplies from the Lok-Batan tanker, without waiting for Razumny, the leader of Baku and the destroyer Enraged went on their own through clear water along the edge of the coastal fast ice. Due to the shallow depths (5-5.6 m), the advance was very slow: in front of the ships, a boat was measured.
Icebreaker "L. Kaganovich" got stuck in heavy ice. But in the most difficult situation was the destroyer "Reasonable", sandwiched between two large hummocks of perennial ice. The ice floes squeezed the hull from the sides, the screws jammed. The personnel were exhausted, fighting to free the ship from the ice captivity. Day and night, special teams blew up the ice with ammonal and stabbed them with ice picks. They laid a steam line and tried to cut the ice with a steam jet. It turned out that the screws were frozen firmly into the ice field. It was possible to free them only with the help of divers: they brought in a steam line and cut off the ice around the screws with steam. When the situation became complicated, the ship commander allowed the use of depth charges to break the ice. Explosions destroyed the ice to its entire thickness, set up ice anchors and pulled up to them. We managed to walk 30-40 meters per day. The icebreaker "A. Mikoyan" repeatedly approached the ship, took it in tow, but had no success. He could not chip the ice around the destroyer. This was dangerous, as ice accumulated between the icebreaker and the hull of the ship, and the pressure of the icebreaker could lead to a hole in the hull.
On August 31, the icebreaker I. Stalin, which came up from the west, came to the aid of "A. Mikoyan". Two icebreakers crumbled thick ice with short raids, each time advancing 2 - 2, 5 meters. Work continued from August 31 to September 8. Two channels were pierced to the "Razumny" in the ice, but it was not possible to tow the destroyer, since the icebreakers themselves, due to ice compression, could not move along these channels.
On September 8, the ice situation in the area of the Razumny drift changed dramatically. The wind changed direction, the ice began to move, separate streaks appeared, the compression of the ship's hull decreased. “A. Mikoyan” took the destroyer into tow and began to slowly take it out into the clear water. "I. Stalin" walked ahead, breaking the ice fields, clearing the way for "A. Mikoyan" and "Reasonable". By 14 o'clock on September 9, we went out into clean water. The destroyer took fuel from the tanker "Locke-Batan", together with everyone headed west along the edge of the coastal fast ice. In the area of Cape Two pilots met a heavy ice bridge and stopped, waiting for the icebreaker "L. Kaganovich", which led the destroyer to Ambarchik Bay.
On September 17, EON-18 ships connected in the Tiksi Bay. Here the expedition was ordered to stay. German ships - the heavy cruiser "Admiral Scheer" and submarines, entered the Kara Sea, circling Novaya Zemlya from the north. Having learned from the Japanese about the expedition, the Germans decided to carry out Operation Wunderland (Wonderland) with the aim of intercepting and destroying transports, warships and all Soviet icebreakers near the Vilkitsky Strait. At the eastern entrance to the strait, EON-18 and a caravan of ships from Arkhangelsk, under the escort of the Krasin icebreaker, were to meet.
Recently I posted on "VO" an article about the feat of the icebreaking steamer "Dezhnev", the heroism of the Dezhnevites made it possible to save the ships and ships of the oncoming convoys. It would seem, where is the Black Sea and where is the Arctic Ocean? But the GKO plan and the courage, perseverance, and sense of duty of the Soviet sailors brought the heroism of Dezhnev and Mikoyan to one point on the map of the great war. The fate of the ships and ships mentioned in the article developed in different ways.
The next tanker “Varlaam Avanesov” left Istanbul on December 19 following “A. Mikoyan”. Time was calculated so that the Dardanelles pass before dark and enter the Aegean Sea at night. At 2130 hours the "Varlaam Avanesov" passed the strait and went to the main course. The high gloomy cape Babakale with a fortress at the top floated on the port side. Suddenly, a searchlight flashed in the fortress, the beam fell on the black water, slid over it and rested against the tanker. I lit it for about five minutes, then went out. But not for long, after a few minutes everything happened again. And then there was an explosion near the shore. Another fifteen minutes passed. Gradually, the uneasy feeling, caused first by the light of the searchlights, and then by the unknown explosion, began to pass away. Suddenly the tanker was thrown up sharply, from under the stern a high column of fire, smoke, foamed water flew up. It became clear to whom the tanker was shown with a searchlight. The German submarine "U-652" missed the first torpedo and sent the second right on target. The boats with the crew, one after another, departed from the side of the dying tanker, heading for the nearby Turkish coast. The captain made the last entry in the logbook: “22.20. The stern plunged into the sea along the bridge. All left the ship. " One person died. On December 23, 1941, the tanker's crew arrived in Istanbul, and from there to their homeland.
The continuation of the operation now seemed outright madness, but the GKO order was not going to be canceled. On January 4, 1942, Tuapse left Istanbul. He, like the Mikoyan, moved in short dashes, walked only at night, and during the day he hid among the islands. And a week later he reached Famagusta, neither the Germans nor the Italians found him at all!
On January 7, Sakhalin set out on a cruise. And, surprising as it may seem, he repeated the success of Tuapse. Nobody found him at all. On January 21, he also reached Cyprus, spending two weeks on the crossing, which normally takes no more than two days.
Such a result, of course, could be considered a miracle. All Soviet ships were deliberately doomed. They passed through the waters belonging to the enemy, without having any weapons or guards, while the enemy was aware of the time of the exit and knew the target to which the ships were heading. However, out of four ships, three reached Cyprus, while two were not found at all and, accordingly, did not even have casualties or injuries. However, the fate of the Mikoyan seems to be a real miracle, which withstood daily attacks, but survived (and even none of the sailors died).
When crossing from Haifa to Cape Town. Sakhalin and Tuapse made an unexpected contribution to the overall victory of the anti-Hitler coalition. They delivered 15 thousand tons of oil products to South Africa, with which the British ships that participated in the capture of Madagascar were refueled.
In Cape Town, the captain of the "Tuapse" Shcherbachev and the captain of the "Sakhalin" Pomerants had disagreements about the further route. Shcherbachev, in order to save time, decided to drive Tuapse through the Panama Canal. Savings do not always lead to a good result, sometimes it turns into a tragedy. On July 4, 1942, when the Tuapse reached the Caribbean Sea and was at Cape San Antonio (Cuba), it was attacked by the German submarine U-129. Four torpedoes hit the ship at short intervals. Ten people from the team were killed, but most were saved.
Pomerants took his Sakhalin along the same route as A. Mikoyan. Having withstood the strongest storms "Sakhalin" on December 9, 1942 came to his native Vladivostok.
The leader of "Baku" became the Red Banner ship, the destroyer "Enraged" on January 23, 1945 was torpedoed by the German submarine U-293. The destroyer's stern was torn off and until mid-1946 it was under repair. The destroyer "Razumny" went through the entire war, repeatedly participated in escorting convoys, took part in the Petsamo-Kirkenes operation.
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