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The Battleship In The Mountain: Real or Fake?

The photo in question. Original photographer unknown.

A strange photo making its rounds about the internet shows a battleship protruding from the stony face of a cliff, flag raised and usually with the cryptic caption "Murmansk, Russia." It looks photoshopped, and many of the more critical views likely have chalked it up to such. I became intrigued by it and decided to do some research.

The marking on the bow indicate it was a Soviet ship, and the flag is definitely red but too pixelated to see clearly. Logically, there is no way this ship could have crashed through a solid rock without suffering severe damage. There had to be more to the story…

It turns out that this is not a real ship’s bow sticking out of the rock face, but rather a memorial. It commemorates a World War II battle known as the Liinakhamari Landing, and is dedicated to the Soviet sailors that lost their lives during the siege. The memorial was opened on the 30th anniversary of the battle, on October 12, 1974. The entire area is now an open air museum with many WWII era structures, fortifications, and machinery to be found as it was left from the war.

The location is technically accurate but somewhat misleading. The Liinakhamari is in the Murmansk Oblast region of Russia, but almost one hundred miles away or a two hour drive from the city of Murmansk. There was also an abandoned ship called The Murmansk, with no connection to this memorial (the first thing that will popped up when I searched for abandoned ships in Murmansk was the rusted ruins of The Murmansk.) The Murmansk was an old Soviet cruiser partially submerged off the coast of Sørvær, Norway for nearly twenty years but was completely scrapped in 2013.

The Liinakhamari Landing

Around 10:50 p.m. on the night of October 12, 1944 a 600 man force landed in the harbor of Liinakhamari and attacked the Nazi fort that held the bay. 54 Soviet soldiers died in the battle and are buried in a mass grave on the site. Most of the Soviet casualties were from the 125e Marine Regiment; the Russian Marines, or to go by their proper name, The Russian Naval Infantry, were nicknamed “The Black Death” due to their black berets.

Liinakhamari, Linhammar as it also called, lies in the extreme north of the Lapland area, directly on the present day Russian and Norwegian border. It was originally a port town owned by the Grand Duchy of Finland until the Bolshevik Revolution. The Soviets claimed all of Finland as part of the Soviet Union, leading to the Finnish Civil War. The war concluded in 1920 when the Soviets agreed to honor the previous boarders and Finland maintained independence. Liinakhamari was given to Finland. Finland owned the port until the Russo-Finnish War in 1939 when the Soviets took control of the harbor. However, in 1940 with the Treaty of Moscow, they gave it back to Finland once again. The peace was short lived; in 1941 The Continuation War began and Nazi Germany took control of Liinakhamari until 1944, when the Soviets took it from them (the battle the monument is honoring.) After WWII, the region has remained part of Russia.

In other words, this area has changed hands many times and has seen more than its fair share of warfare. Today much of the area is abandoned, with nothing but the occasional tourist and the ghosts of the bloody past still wandering the grounds.

For more reading on the Soviet/Nazi battles in the Lapland, usacac.army.mil has a detailed book online that also includes a lot more about the Liinakhamari Landing. For more photos from the open air museum, planetoddity.com has some good ones. If you're interested in The Murmansk (the abandoned ship) and don't mind using google translate (or speak Russian), masterok.livejournal.com is the place to go.

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