- Dec 16, 2013
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The history of the Albanian Navy dates back to 1925, following the creation of the Albanian Republic. Albanian naval forces operate out of two main bases; Bishti-i-Palles in Durrës, and Pasha Liman in Vlorë, with four reserve bases respectively in Shëngjin, Porto Palermo, Saranda and a submarine base on Sazan island. The vessels of the Albanian naval force are mostly patrol craft and support craft as well as four whisky class submarines (Soviet Union built in the early Cold War period) which have been taken out of service at Pasha Liman. In Shëngjin a Soviet built minesweeper M-111 and an AFD-115 gunship remain abandoned at the entrance to a bunker. The Albanian navy still operates out of Shëngjin in a low capacity so it's still an active military zone but you are allowed to drive through it to reach a beach resort on the other side. Handy for us! Visited with adders, extreme_ironing, otter and reenie. Here's what we found....
AFD Mujo Ulqinaku M-111 - A mine warfare ship designed for the location of and destruction of naval mines which combines the role of a minesweeper and minehunter in one hull. Minesweepers are equipped with mechanical or electrical devices, known as "sweeps", for disabling mines, so waterways are maintained clear for safe shipping. This one appears to have been disused since 1996 (the date of a calendar on board), just prior to the Albanian civil war, when many vessels of the Albanian navy were seriously damaged.
Behind it sits this half-submerged AFD P115 - Albanian Navy gunship (Chinese type 62 "Shanghai-II") which has had its 57mm gun mount removed
They sit in front of the entrance to a navigable bunker which was inaccessible. Another entrance parallel was also sealed although we reached the blast door for that one
The AFD Mujo Ulqinaku M111 was named after Mujo Ulqinaku, an Albanian sergeant of the Royal Albanian Navy, known for his resistance to the Italian forces during the Italian Invasion of Albania in 1939. Armed with only a machine gun, he was placed at the centre of the defense line and fought uninterruptedly until he was eventually killed by an artillery shell from an Italian warship in the last hour of the battle. He was given the People's Hero of Albania award posthumously.
On board the AFD - M111
An old gun at the front
You can see an active patrol boat moored up on the left of the shot
Inside the AFD - M111
A small engine room
Hatches and squat toilets
All the cabins were locked except for this one
Some old military posters
Back on land, this AFD S104 - Huchuan class 'motor torpedo boat' is waiting to be scrapped. Powered by Soviet-era engines, these hydrofoil-equipped boats are capable of 50 knots (93 km/h; 58 mph) and carry two torpedo tubes for torpedoes, with some known to be armed with naval mines.
A few dilapidated buildings remain nearby
This building to the left was manned but we were just out of view so we took a quick peek at these old military vehicles
Some rusty torpedoes lay on the ground alongside one of them
A couple of old trucks overgrown by vegetation above the bunker. We were aware of someone from the base heading in our direction at this point so we hopped in the car and made tracks
We made it to the beach resort on the other side of the military zone where unfortunately the pigs were waiting for us. Thankfully they just grunted a bit and we were on our way ?
Just in time to catch the sunset!
Thanks for looking
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