If there was an island that fit the description for 20,000 leagues under the sea it would have been here. It makes one wonder if the Russians read the novel before exploring for a spot for a top-secret submarine base. For nearly 20 years, this base operated in Broutona Bay with submarines moving in and out from about 1987 to 1994.The island itself houses a giant extinct caldera, this caldera was filled with sea water when the Russian Navy used explosives to form the entrance into the bay. The mouth of this bay is only 100′-0″ wide (33 meters) by 29′-0″ deep (9 meters), it’s clear that they only wanted submarines to have access into the bay.
When one enters the bay it feels spooky and fascinating considering the volcano and surrounding beauty. There was once a time when this was home to thousands of navy staff and their families. The once bustling secret submarine base is now lying in ruins. Among these ruins you will find a hospital, large apartment blocks, school, livestock pens that were full of animals. If you were to walk into any of these building you will find books and other items scattered on the floor. If you were to walk around outside you would find rusting Gun turrets that never fired a single shot. A shoe repair shop has half-finished repairs lying about and trucks now sit idle in fields being recaptured by nature.
The setting is beautiful. A large volcano in the background, a sheltered bay and beach out front. Wild foxes and birds all about. You can really envision families living here and having a good life. But then it all ended. Where did they all go?
Today, very few people visit this island. Perhaps some Russian fishing boats stop by now and then. Only a handful of tourist boats ever make it out here in any given year. It feels more like an outdoor museum than anything else.