Alexander Rzhavin


The most secret Spetsnaz of the GRU: combat divers of the Special Intelligence of the Navy

Text on the cover

In December 2004 the 561st Otdel'nyy morskoy razvedyvatel'nyy punkt [Detached Naval Reconnaissance Point], the oldest unit of Russian Naval Spetsnaz [spetsial'nogo naznacheniya, for special purpose], celebrates its 50th anniversary. Parusniki [in Russian it sounds like sailing vessels] – under such romantic name in the Baltic Fleet of Russia and the USSR they know and knew combat divers of this unit, located in settlement Parusnoye. Together with their colleagues from other OMRPs and brigades of both naval and land Spetsnaz of the GRU they had to start, even before launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles, the global nuclear war, if the order would be given. And as for the present it has not come to such war, combat divers execute other primary tasks of headquarters.

In the middle 1970s Alexander Rzhavin had the luck to become one of Parusniki. During conscripted service in the Second sub-unit of the 561st OMRP of the Special Intelligence of the Navy he became Deputy Commander of reconnaissance-sabotage group with the rank of Senior Seaman and with the position of Senior vodolaz-radiometrist [diver – radar operator] for osoboe [special] purpose. Through all his life Alexander Rzhavin retained interest for the theme of underwater Spetsnaz. Keeping connections to the unit and colleagues and maintaining friendly relations with many eminent razveddiversanty [recon-saboteurs, scouts and saboteurs], he wrote this book about them.

Although there are many books and articles about combat swimmers of the USSR and Russia, little reliable information about combat divers has been published. For the first time this book says openly and completely not only about history of Soviet and Russian combat divers, but about their nowadays service as well. The structure, weapon (including special charges – midget nuclear fougasses), equipment, training, tactics, operations, little known and completely unknown pages from life of parusniki and other naval spetsnazmen – all this stuff is described by man, who personally served as a combat diver.

Combat diver Senior Seaman Alexander Arkad'yevich Rzhavin during his service in the 561st OMRP. 1976. (Photo from archives of A.Rzhavin).

Supplied with appendixes and photos, overwhelming majority of which are published for the first time, the book of Alexander Rzhavin narrates clearly and truly about Soviet and Russian combat divers, about their hard, but very interesting service – to defend the Motherland. A reader will learn a lot of interesting facts (but not rumours and conjectures) and fascinating stories. Here are just some subjects, which are broached in the book:

  • when did underwater Spetsnaz appear in the USSR;
  • how many OMRPs were in the USSR and remained in Russia;
  • what is the difference between Spetsnaz of the Navy and PDSS;
  • why naval spetsnazmen do not use aqualungs in combat and are not marines;
  • how to become a combat diver;
  • which midget submarines are added to combat swimmers' armoury;
  • who guarded Gorbatchev in Malta;
  • how did they plan to evacuate the Family (President Eltsin, his relatives, and some politicians and businessmen closely connected to them) from Russia;
  • can naval spetsnazmen fight on land;
  • where did combat divers fight;
  • how will the global thermonuclear war begin;
  • are nuclear objects and naval bases protected from terrorists or saboteurs.

The cover of secrecy is thrown off, and a reader sees no monstrous and heartless ôsea devilsö or ôamphibious devilsö, but ordinary healthy cheerful young men, who are capable of extraordinary actions, who had diving, reconnaissance and sabotage training, who are ready to execute an order under any, the most unfavourable circumstances, but who lack a sense of conceit and a thirst for pokazukha [window dressing] at the meantime.