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Russian Bay Naval Station -


  • Russian Naval presence at Kanali in Poros Harbour from 1770s.
  • Involvement in Battle of Poros.
  • Old facilities at Kanali bought out for use by the Greek Navy
  • Naval Station Built/Reconstructed 1834 at Russian Bay.
  • Used as Naval and Trading Centre.
  • Abandoned 1917 by Revolting Sailors.
  • Ruins, Beach and Snack Bar.

Russian Bay - Russian Naval Station from South East
Russian Bay - Russian Naval Station from South East

Russian Bay Naval Station:

During the 1820s the Great Powers of England, France and Russia, were heavily involved in the Greek Revolution that ended in the formation of the modern Greek nation. Some of the islands in the Ionian and Aegean seas around Greece had come under British and French control, mainly as a defence against piracy by other Greeks and the Navy of the Ottoman Empire. Russia had strategic desires to obtain warm-water ports and bases, as well as a religious and political link between its Tsar and Orthodox Church with the Greek Orthodox Church. The consequence was that although the Royal Navy and the French Navy provided the bulk of the forces at the Battle of Navarino Bay, the outcome was not adequately taken advantage of, as Britain and France wanted to stay on good terms with the Turks.

Russia had maintained a Naval squadron in the Aegean since 1770, when Admiral Orloff brought his frigate to the Aegean in support of Russian naval actions in a Russian war with the Turks. After a relatively unsuccessful campaign, Orloff was wanting to withdraw to Italian waters, but was convinced to stay on, by tradition establishing a command post at Poros. The Russian Navy seems to have quietly developed its facilities, reportedly at or near the site of TE Poros. These were certainly in use by the fledgling Greek Navy by 1827, but were damaged during the Battle of Poros in 1831, when the Russian squadron provided support for the Greek government of Kapodistrias against rebel forces under Admiral Miaoulis of Hydra. The outcome was the destruction of the main part of the recently established Hellenic Navy, the victory of Kapodistrias and a negotiated peace between his government and Hydra.

Russia's old base was bought out by the Greeks by 1834 and a new base was constructed at Russian Bay, partly by prisoners taken during the time of the Battle of Poros, a mixture of bakeries, warehouses, barracks and other service facilities.# The new site became known as 'Russian Bay', its anchorage conveniently near the northern exit of the harbour.

The Imperial Russian Navy Base and Trading Station...

References in published texts and websites indicate that the site was needed for both military and commercial reasons, serving as a barracks for the Russian sailors and as warehouses and workshops. Poros harbour is bordered by orchards of olives, grapes, citrus fruits and the like, all valuable as they are and when processed for olive oil, wine, raisins, fruit juices and the like. During a time when scurvy from lack of vitamins was a prime killer of seamen, the resources of the area would have been valuable both to the Navy and to the commercial shipping that traded north from Poros through the Black Sea to Russia. Whilst the writer has no direct evidence, it is logical that the Russians would have used their Naval Base to support their merchant interests.

West Side Exterior, Russian Bay Naval Station
West Side Exterior,
Russian Bay Naval Station
South West Corner Interior, Russian Bay Naval Station
South West Corner Interior,
Russian Bay Naval Station
Russian Bay Naval Station
Exterior, South West Corner and Front,
Russian Bay Naval Station

The building as it remains has a large and impressive frontage, presumably for offices and the like, with at least two floors above the ground floor. Below and behind this area are the vaulted remains of what may have been storehouses, above which the barracks could have been located. The walls at ground level have what at first sight look like arrow-slits, but in fact these were probably ventilators for the storerooms, too narrow for pilerage and easily covered by grilles against rats and other vermin. It is difficult to say whether there was much of a permanent garrison as the structure does not seem large enough for that. Neither is it clear whether there was any kind of dock or pier at the site; the adjacent bay to the west may have allowed ships to be emptied and winched ashore for repairs. There are the remains of a large well to the north east of the building, providing the fresh water essential for base and warships.

The rather ignominious end to this Russian warm water base came in 1917. The crews of the two ships on station mutinied against their officers and decided to return to Russia, presumably back to the Baltic bases at St. Petersburg, as the route into the Black Sea was strongly fortified by the Turks. Before leaving, the ships turned their guns on the base and left it in much the same ruined state as it remains today. The thought occurs that the Bolsheviks must later have regretted the loss of one of their few bases beyond Russia, for otherwise the Russian Navy might still be in the area and have a warm-water port in the Aegean. The limited size of the base suggests that the Tsarist Navy did not appreciate the value of Poros Harbour as a strategic asset, a surprising error.

Tourism and Access to Russian Bay...

There is a quite considerable buoyed anchorage for yachts off Russian Bay and a pier for small boats in regular use. Although the sea bottom beyond the shoreline is mostly shingle, the sands around the old ruins are popular with visitors. From 2007, a snack bar with parasol-shaded tables and good flush toilets, caters to the needs of the visitors. The bus from Poros (2007 cost 1 Euro per head) terminates at Russian Bay and runs twice an hour.

Old Well (Being Obtained) Russian Bay Naval Station
Old Well,
Russian Bay Naval Station
Snack Bar, Russian Bay Naval Station
Snack Bar and back of Naval Station.
Russian Bay Naval Station
Modern boat pier, Russian Bay Naval Station
Modern boat pier,
Russian Bay Naval Station

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© 2007 & 2008 Richard Edkins, Dalbeattie Internet.