Special Underwater-Operations Group

Special Underwater-Operations Group

 

(in Russian, Ekspeditsiia podvodnykh rabot osobogo naznacheniia [EPRON]), in the USSR, a special organization that raised sunken ships and performed emergency rescue operations. EPRON was formed in 1923 under the Unified State Political Directorate (OGPU) to carry out a special assignment, namely, to search for the British steamship Black Prince, which sank—supposedly with a large cargo of gold aboard—near Balaklava (the Crimea) in 1854.

EPRON raised ships that sank or were sunk in the Black Sea. In 1929 it was given responsibility for rescuing ships in distress. In the same year, it organized a group in Leningrad for ship-raising operations in the Baltic Sea and the Neva River; in 1930, a similar group was organized in the North. By 1932, similar organizations of all departments were placed under the jurisdiction of EPRON, which became the only organization to carry out ship-raising, emergency rescue, diving, and experimental underwater operations in all the seas, rivers, and lakes in the USSR. EPRON also trained divers at the Naval Technicum in Balaklava.

At the start of the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45, EPRON was placed under the jurisdiction of the Soviet Navy and was made the basis for the organization of the Naval Emergency Rescue Service. Thus, EPRON ceased to exist as an independent organization.

During its existence, EPRON raised 450 ships and saved 188 ships from sinking. In 1929 it was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor.

REFERENCE

Chiker, N. P. Sluzhba osobogo naznacheniia. Moscow, 1975.
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