RUSSIANS with a passion for diving invited members of a British diving organisation to visit.
John Bevan, Kevin Casey and Mike O’Meara, of The Diving Museum, Gosport, flew to Russia at the invitation of The Centre for Russian and British Art and Culture.
They gave presentations on the diving museum, which is at Stokes Bay, HMS Edinburgh’s gold salvage and Peter the Great’s connection with the Dean brothers who invented the first diving helmet.
As part of the tour they visited Voronezh, south of Moscow where Peter the Great built his navy.
The tour saw them take in St Petersburg and Kronshtadt, an island off St Petersburg which until recently was an off-limits naval base.
Presentations were delivered in museums and dive schools in each city, in Moscow, Russian dive school No1 and Voronezh dive school No2.
Mr Casey said: ‘Both schools also had very good museums. In St Petersburg presentations were given on the ice breaker Krasin which was built in Newcastle in 1916.
‘When built, it was the most powerful icebreaker in the world and it took part in the Arctic convoys.
‘I was invited to make a dive in a Russian 3 bolt standard dress at school No2.
‘I believe I am the first westerner to dive in that part of Russia.
‘When I got out of the water and the face plate was removed, I was greeted with a large shot glass of vodka, which would have been rude to refuse, followed by bread and red caviar.
‘We were privileged to have personal escorted tours at quite a few museums such as the Central Naval Museum and the Aurora, the ship that fired the gun that started the revolution, both in St Petersburg.’
The group also visited Admiralty Church, in Voronezh, where they laid flowers at the memorial to the submariners lost in the Kursk.
Mr Casey added: ‘We found the Russian people we met very warm towards us and many had kind words for the British because of the Second World War and the Arctic convoys.
‘It was a fantastic trip and we hope to return some time in the future.’
For more information about the museum go to thehds.com.