The repair of the lightship “Irbensky” has been completed in Kaliningrad. One of the last vessels of this class in the world became part of the Museum of the World Ocean. The restored holds have been turned into halls displaying a collection of artworks about the lighthouses of the Baltic Sea.
The "Irbensky" was launched in 1962 at a shipyard in the Finnish city of Turku. In the same year, the ship, built by a special order of the USSR, was placed at the starting point of the northern fairway of the Irbe Strait. Here the lightship was dutifully keeping annual watch from the beginning of April to the end of November, until the end of navigation in 1986-1987.
After the construction of a stationary lighthouse in the Irbe Strait, the ship was sent for overhaul. In 1989, it took a new position – at the entrance to the deep-water fairway leading to the port of Ventspils. In 1994, the "Irbensky" was evacuated to Baltiysk along with all Russian military equipment that was taken out of Latvia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Later, the "Irbensky" was moved to Lomonosov, where it was used for watchkeeping by the headquarters of the hydrographic division.
In 2009, the lightship was removed from the Russian Navy – there was a real threat of the unique vessel being used for scrap. The "Irbensky" was saved from this sad fate by public attention. Thanks to the active position of the Maritime Heritage Commission of the Marine Board under the Government of the Russian Federation, the ship was handed over to the Museum of the World Ocean, which has extensive experience in ship restoration.
The lightship has undergone dock repairs at the Kronstadt Marine Plant. Now the "Irbensky", transferred to the Museum of the World Ocean, is included in the list of identified objects of cultural heritage. Within the framework of the “Russia – Lithuania 2014–2020” cross-border cooperation program, a collection of artworks about Baltic lighthouses, as well as canvases made in holographic technique, were placed in its holds. These paintings depict the lightship “Irbensky” itself, the “Dubingiai” ship from the Lithuanian Sea Museum, and the “Meridianas” brigantine.
The opening ceremony of the "Irbensky" took place on December 9. The renovated lightship is awaiting guests from December 17, any day except Wednesday and Thursday.