History of Severodvinsk

The banks of Severnaya Dvina (North Dvina) were first discovered in the beginning of this millennium by Vikings. English and Norman ships were coming to the Severnaya Dvina mouth for furs and fish until 13th century when global cooling of climate made navigating in the north seas dangerous.  The  waterway from Europe to Severnaya Dvina was forgotten for 300 years. In 15th century, almost half-century before appearance of Archangelsk port, at the walls of Nikolo-Karelski monastery on the south coast of Nikolski mouth, first Russian northern port was functioning.  In the august of 1553, a storm threw ashore one of English ships looking for northern way to China.  Richard Chancellor was a captain of the ship called "Edward Benaventure".  One of the streets of Severodvinsk now bears Richard's name.  Chancellor visited Ivan the Terrible and got his support, after evaluating all the benefits of discovery of the Russian land.  As a result, England got trade privileges from the Russian czar. In 1557 diplomatic relation were open between England and Russia. The first ambassador of Russia in England Osip Nepeya (native of Vologda) left for England with Richard Chancellor from Nikolo-Karelski monastery.  The foreign trade ships started coming to the walls of monastery and on Yagri (Pink Island) warehouses were built for storage of goods.

From the beginning of 16th century, Severnaya Dvina became the most important river in Russia, and was exceeded by significance by Volga only in the 17th century.  Peter the Great's  Act of 1722 prohibited unlimited import of foreign goods and it gradually decreased the foreign trade and diminished the role of Russian north.  However, even after Russians gaining access to the Baltic Sea, Severnaya Dvina remained the main waterway linking the center of Russia with North, Europe and Arctic. Around the beginning of the 1930s, the need arose for modernization of the Navy.   Russia was facing the war and needed appropriate Navy to defend itself.

Founders of the city arrived on the boat "Ivan Kalyaev" in June 1936. They discovered ruins of the Nikolo-Korelski monastery on the deserted banks of Severnaya Dvina, almost forgotten by that time. History of building Severodvinsk is similar to that of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Turksib, and Magnitka. The first builders of Severodvinsk were a few of the Komsomol members as well as thousands of prisoners of Yagrinlag who were brought there without their own will.  Living in the tents among the cold,  wet swamps inhabited with mosquitoes,  they built 50-km railroad in just 4 months that was open in November 1936.   Then work began on the submarine shipyard.  As an award for the hard work, the USSR Government gave the settlement status of the city and named it Molotovsk on August 11, 1938.

Near W.W.II, the city already housed 40,000 people, most of whom moved there from other areas of Archangelsk region. Fourteen thousand people left the city to defend Russia during the war, but only 4,000 came back.  Women and teenagers replaced men on the plants and factories.  Despite starvation and cold, thousands of bombs and missiles signed "A gift for Hitler" were produced.

Molotovsk sea port was open just in a few months, in December 1941. For a long time, according to official announcements, cargo received through lend-lease from England and the US was going through Murmansk and Archangelsk. However, more than a half of the ships going to Archangelsk were unloaded instead in Molotovsk, a more convenient port in some respects. After the war, Molotovsk was renamed again in 1957 -  it was given a name of Severodvinsk.

Now Severodvinsk is a second largest city in the Archangelsk region. It has a population of 240,000 people.  Its main industry remains defense - construction and repair of submarines.  The first nuclear submarine "Lenin's Komsomol" was built here in 1957.  In the beginning of 1980s the world's biggest submarine, "Typhoon",  was also built here, and it was later recorded in the Guinness' World's Records book.

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