a commercial port located on the Baltic Sea at the eastern tip of the Gulf of Finland. It is the main port of the Soviet-owned Baltic Shipping Company.
The port first became active in 1703, almost at the same time as the founding of St. Petersburg. Maritime vessels entered the port along natural waterways and unloaded at Vasil’ev Island; larger ships unloaded at Kotlin Island (Kronstadt). With the commencement of regular operations at the St. Petersburg port, the city of St. Petersburg was transformed into the chief center of Russia’s foreign trade. A sea canal was built between 1877 and 1885. In the 1880’s the port was transferred to the southwest part of the city, to Gutuevskii, Vol’nyi, and Turukhtannye islands. Between 1884 and 1914 the Iuzhnyi (Southern) and Severnyi (Northern) jetties (13 km long), over 1.5 km of moorages, eight freight warehouses, and several elevators were constructed.
The dockers were active in the revolutionary movement. The port was gripped by a powerful strike in February 1895. Port workers joined circles organized by the St. Petersburg Union of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class. One of the first leaflets of the union was based on materials assembled by the dockers and was addressed to them: What Should the Port Workers Be Seeking? The workers took part in the October Socialist Revolution of 1917. Detachments of the people’s militia were formed in the port; along with the Red Guards they ensured the implementation of all orders of the Petrograd Military Revolutionary Committee. During the Civil War (1918–20) the workers of the port defended the conquests of October.
On the eve of World War I (1914–18) freight turnover totaled more than 4.5 million tons. The port was capable of servicing 50 ships simultaneously. Loading and unloading operations were conducted manually. With World War I commercial shipping on the Baltic was halted and the port was blockaded.
Soviet navigation began in April 1918. The first foreign vessel entered the port in July. The port was instrumental in the establishment of commercial ties with foreign states. Grain for starving inhabitants of the Volga Region, coal for Petrograd enterprises, and locomotives were transshipped via the port. The port was receiving over 50 ships daily in 1931 and up to 100 by 1940. During World War II the Leningrad seaport became one of the advance positions of the front city. Port industry was largely destroyed during the war. Restoration was carried out from 1944 to 1946. From 1946 to 1973 more than 30 port wharves were newly built or reconstructed; machine stocks were supplemented by hundreds of cranes and loaders; and garages, workshops, and public service units were built. Millions of tons of export and import cargos (including timber, machinery, metal goods, and foodstuffs) are shipped through the Leningrad seaport to countries throughout the world. The port was awarded the Order of Lenin in 1966.
V. V. PONIATOVSKII