The story of IRBENSKY L/s


Irbensky Lightship built in Finland in 1962 for the Soviet Union. Project #852, vessel no. 211. First in a series of two. Second lightship in series, Astrakhansky-priyomniy, was built to replace the old lightship on approach to the port of Astrakhan.

Irbensky Lightship length is 43 m., width by middle - 9,5 m., draught of the fully loaded vessel - 3,5 m., displacement 570 t., speed 8,7 knots, crew of 19. Fuel reserve of 90 t., lubricants of 3 t. and drinking water of 40 t. allow main engine to run continously for 10 days, auxillary engines and heating - for 120 days. Foodstuff and drinking water reserves ensure crew with 50 days of autonomous living on board.

Navigation equipment of the lightship consists of lantern, racon and a nautophone. Lantern is mounted on top of the front mast, at height of 17,5 m. from the load waterline. Tube-type mast is 940-mm in diameter, with inner and outer metal ladders to access the lantern. Light of the lantern seen from up to 12 miles. Reach of the circular racon that operated under foggy weather only was 15 miles. Nautophone consists of 4 emitters with working distance up to 4 miles.

Vessel is separated by the seven watertight bulkheads. Vessel remains floating if up to two adjacent sections out of total eight are damaged.

Irbensky lightship took her position by approach to Irbensky strait from 1963 till 1986. Her position was 57 dgr.52 min. N, 21 dgr. 37 min. E. During ice period, from 5 Jan. till 24 Apr. the vessel was replaced with a buoy. When the stationary concrete tower was commissioned on the Mikhailovskaya shoal, the lightship was supposed to replace the reception buoy on approach to the port of Ventspils. However, buoy appeared to be far less expensive in maintenance...


After USSR had collapsed the lightship was transferred to Lomonosov (St.Petersburg suburb), to the hydrographic fleet base. There were some ideas how to utilize the lightship but none carried out. Until now the lightship rooms are used by the hydrographic officers as a kind of a 'field office'. As the times of lightships are passed, she became unnecessary and was put on sale as scrap metal.

Same-type Astrakhansky-priyomniy lightship is known to have been already cut for the scrap metal. Its mast with lantern on top is kept in Astrakhan port as a beacon.

Should Irbensky lightship share this sad destiny - Russia remains with no chances to keep a single lightship as a memorial.

There are lots of oldtimer cars, trains and military vehicles kept as single memorials and in collections. The lightship deserves to become a memorial too, and there's no better place for such than St.Petersburg.

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