On a map, Bechevinskaya Bay looks like the end of the world. Cut off from civilization by miles of mountains and ice, this area sits on the eastern side of Russia’s remote Kamchatka Peninsula, far from any of the country's great cities: indeed, the nation's capital, Moscow, lies nearly 7,000km to the west. But look closely enough and you’ll find remnants of secret Soviet settlers. And their ghosts still haunt the shores of this barren region.
All over Russia’s great expanse you will find once-thriving settlements now lost in the mists of time. Many of these towns – established as industrial satellite hubs in remote regions – were once home to busy communities of workers and their families. Now, they have been forgotten – left to rot and rust in the open air.
Some of these towns were abandoned because what made them useful suddenly disappeared. The Siberian citizens of Mirny, for example, fled when the town’s colossal Mir diamond mine dried up. Others had a more sinister explanation for being forgotten. Most infamously, Pripyat in modern-day Ukraine – then a Soviet satellite state – was left to be reclaimed by nature after the catastrophic Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown made the area dangerously uninhabitable.
But for most of these settlements there is a common reason why these towns no longer exist – they no longer serve a purpose. After the fall of the USSR in 1991 both Russia and its associated states entered into a period of economic decline. In the new economic reality the authorities could no longer afford to keep open manufacturing spots that had been deemed vital during the Cold War.
One of these settlements was called Bechevinka, home of the military facility Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky-54. Located on the eastern coast of Russia, the community was originally built to house workers of an adjoining submarine base. And as with many of the Soviet Union’s military facilities, its existence was kept top secret.