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Remembering the Soviet Liner Baltika 45 Years Ago
on a 1960 Visit to New York
& the United Nations
With Soviet Leader Nikita Krushchev Aboard
Text and images by Theodore W. Scull.
Baltika four berth cabin one of four classes aboard the Soviet liner.
Baltika at the Tilbury Landing Stage August 31, 1976.
The 7,494 ton turbo-electric twin-screw steamship Baltika, built in 1940 in the Netherlands as the Vyacheslav Molotov, was renamed Baltika in 1957. For most of her career she ran on the Leningrad to London service for the Baltic State Steamship Line but she also traded in the Soviet Far East, to Murmansk and made voyages to Cuba. She carried four classes of accommodation, later reduced to three. Her service speed was normally 16 knots though she could make 20 knots when pushed.
On September 9, 1960 she sailed from Kaliningrad for New York with Nikita Khruschev and the leaders of Bulgaria, Rumania, Hungary, Byelorussia, and the Ukraine aboard. She arrived in New York on September 19th to tie up at East River Pier 73 because of its proximity to the United Nations. The school ship John W. Brown occupied the north side of the pier, and her students were reassigned for the duration of the Baltika's stay. Her arrival caused a lot of controversy because the longshoremen refused to handle her and her crew had to take to the boats to tie up the ship, though two McAllister tugs helped berth the ship.
During the Soviet leader’s visit, many will recall the now famous footage showing Krushchev taking off his shoe and banging it on his desk to attract attention.
While the Soviet leader flew back to the Soviet Union, the Baltika finally sailed from New York at 5:46 A.M. on October 14, 1960. One crewman defected. She then resumed her regular Leningrad to London passenger service for many more years.
The series of six photographs that follow were taken by Theodore W. Scull on a short voyage, August 31-September 2, 1976, from Tilbury Landing Stage, down the Thames from London, to Le Havre, France and back.
(Thank you to John Emery for the details of the Baltika’s New York visit.)
Bridge of Baltika with plaque commemorating the 1960 voyage to New York.
Closeup of plaque - Voyage to New York 9-19 September, 1960.
Baltika at Le Havre September 1, 1976.
Baltika at sea September 1, 1976.
Stern view with Baltika and Leningrad in Cyrllic.
Baltika at Tilbury Landing Stage September 2, 1976.