A journey to Morocco with Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan. About the construction of the shipyard.

Some interesting material for those who are fond of history (XX century, international relationship etc.). Translation of the chapter of the book «A journey to Morocco with Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan» (ISBN 978-5-9950-0467-7). This book was written by Vladimir Yevgenyevich Churov. Some info (in Russian) about the author.

The book «A journey to Morocco with Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan» was released in 2015, edition of 2000 copies only. The book is made in the form of a thick magazine (264 pages), printed on good coated paper and very richly illustrated.

«About the construction of the shipyard» is one of the chapters of the book. The chapter is divided into two parts, now ALAFF is publishing the first part. In this chapter V.I. Churov writes not just about «some people» who visited Morocco in the 60s — there would be nothing remarkable in this. The chapter is interesting, important and «personal» because V.I. Churov’s father was one of three members of the Soviet official delegation sent to Morocco in early 1960-es to study the situation and develop a plan for the possible construction of a shipyard in Morocco. That’s why the author has a lot of interesting information «first-hand» — his father left a lot of documents, records, diaries, photos etc. Plus access to state archives, as well as V.I. Churov’s personal trip to Morocco.

Annotation (taken from the website of the publishing house):

«Vladimir Yevgenyevich’s new book on Morocco refers to the series of «Journey to the Twentieth Century», started by the book «Journey from Budapest to Vienna with the Guards Major-General of Artillery Vladimir Iosifovitch Brezhnev» (2010). The narrator has perfectly mastered all methods of moving in time and space, some of these methods are accessible only to him. He uses his own travel notes and photographs, materials of personal (diaries, letters, drawings and photographs of his father) and state archives. Many documents were previously secret and are published for the first time, for example, the records of conversations between L.I. Brezhnev and A.I. Mikoyan with the kings of Morocco. Details of the biographies of several Soviet diplomats are given for the first time. This book is not a history of Morocco or Soviet-Moroccan relations, but a colorful picture of life in Morocco and the Soviet Union in the 20th century with several important historical finds«.

So here’s ALAFF’s translation of the text, in the form in which it is given in the book:


In 1961, as now, the construction of a shipyard on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco was part of world politics.

Sent to the members of the Presidium
of the CPSU Central Committee to vote

State Committee
of the Council of Ministers of the USSR
on Foreign Economic Relations
January 27, 1961
№ 02-1/14


The Ambassador of the USSR to the Kingdom of Morocco reported (special telegram № 45 of 20.01.61) that Minister of National Economy and Finance of Morocco, Duiri, on behalf of the government, asked whether the Soviet government could urgently send two experts to Morocco to study the construction of a shipyard in Alhousemas (on the Mediterranean coast), as well as the reconstruction of the port of Alhousemas.

According to Duiri, after studying our experts on the construction of a shipyard and the reconstruction of the port of Alhusemas, the Moroccan government intends to apply to the Government of the Soviet Union for the design and construction of these facilities.

Having considered this request, the State Committee of the Council of Ministers of the USSR on Foreign Economic Relations, the State Committee of the USSR Council of Ministers for Shipbuilding and the Ministry of the Navy of the USSR consider it possible to send one specialist of the Ministry of the Navy of the USSR for the reconstruction of sea ports and one specialist of the State Committee of the USSR Council of Ministers for Shipbuilding for the construction of shipyards.

The draft resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU on this issue, agreed with the Ministry of the Navy of the USSR (comrade Bakaev) and the State Committee of the USSR Council of Ministers for Shipbuilding (comrade Butoma), is attached.
Please consider.

of the State Committee S. Skachkov

АП РФ. 30.1.61. П315/58.ф.3, оп.65, д.1015, лл.137-140

Until I started writing the next «Journey…», from the three names of the Soviet ministers, Bakaev, Butoma and Skachkov, mentioned in the aforesaid secret document, declassified at my request, I only knew the name of Butoma. And only because in the jubilee album of the Baltic Shipyard I saw a picture of a large marine tanker project 1559 «Boris Butoma». A little later, in Nikolaev [city], the oil-ore carrier ship «Boris Butoma» was built, with a displacement of 130,000 tons.

The graduate of the Leningrad Shipbuilding Institute, Boris Evstafievich Butoma (1907-1976) for 20 years led the domestic shipbuilding. He was responsible not only for the construction of vessels and ships, but also for the erection and reconstruction of shipbuilding plants, as huge as the Nikolaev’s «Ocean«. From 1957 to 1965, his post was called «Chairman of the State Committee of the Council of Ministers of the USSR for Shipbuilding», since 1965 — «Minister of Shipbuilding Industry of the USSR».

During the [Second World] war years, the State Defense Committee and the People’s Commissariat of the Navy entrusted Victor Georgievich Bakaev (1902-1987) with responsible work to ensure the unloading of military cargoes and foodstuffs from Lend-Lease in Murmansk since 1943. It was a dangerous and important task. Bakaev coped with it. From 1954 to 1970, Viktor Georgievich headed the Ministry of the Navy of the USSR.

Semen Andreevich Skachkov (1907-1996) worked at the tank factories in Kharkov and the Urals until the end of the [Second World] war. For a quarter of a century, from 1958 to 1983, he headed the State Committee for Foreign Economic Relations without fail.  It seems, he did not leave a memoirs, and in 1996 he took to the grave secrets that could change the history of many countries and the reputation of high-ranking officials.

Preparation of the Moroccan business trip continued through diplomatic correspondence.

The note of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco to the Embassy of the USSR in Rabat with a request to the competent Soviet organizations to participate in the implementation of the project of building a shipyard

№ 76/МАЕ/Каб.                                                                                        Rabat, February 14, 1961

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs presents its compliments to the Embassy of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and, referring to the conversation of the Minister of Economy and Finance with His Excellency the Ambassador, has the honor to confirm the interest that represents for Morocco the construction of a shipyard to equip the country with a merchant marine, which is explained by the length of the Moroccan borders and the needs of the development of the national economy. This project could concern the Northern Zone and, in particular, the port of Alhousemas.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to know the organizations or departments in the Soviet Union with which the Moroccan government could come into contact.

The Ministry would be grateful if the Embassy would consider the visit of a delegation of specialists to carry out on-site all economic and technical research and develop a program of research and work on the implementation of this project with competent Moroccan organizations in the shortest possible time. His Majesty’s Government attaches great importance to the implementation of this project in cooperation with the USSR.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs uses this opportunity to renew to the Embassy the assurances of its highest esteem.

АВП РФ. Ф.586. Оп.4. П.6. Д.2. Л.122 (in the collection of documents and materials «USSR-Morocco: Foreign Economic Relations». II. M., 2005)

This project is also mentioned in the proposals on the results of L.I. Brezhnev‘s trip to Africa in February 1961:

c). To instruct the USSR State Committee for Foreign Economic Relations to submit in the shortest time to the CPSU Central Committee proposals on our attitude to Morocco’s request for assistance in the construction of the seaport in Alhousemas, given that the Moroccan ruling circles attach great political importance to the implementation of this project.

АВП РФ. Ф.0601. Оп.2. П.4. Д.9. Л.24.

A careful study of the map of the Mediterranean coast of Morocco by Soviet specialists of the appropriate profile showed the complete futility of building a large shipyard and other, for example, related naval facilities in Alhucemas — now the city of Al Hoceima. From the extreme northern point of Morocco, which is still Spanish coastal enclave of Ceuta, the coast of the Mediterranean Sea gently slopes southeast to the promontory on which Al Hoceima is located, and behind it is a convenient bay, covered from the west and east by promontories, but open to the north.



Further to the east to the peninsula Trois Fourches (can be translated as «Trident» or «Triple fork») the shore does not have convenient anchorage. The eastern part of the peninsula is occupied by the second coastal Spanish enclave of Melilla.

02 01

The Mediterranean coast of Morocco from Tangier and Al Hoceima.

Al Hoceima is suitable for the construction of a large shipyard and port, competing with the Spanish. The only obstacle is a small rock in three hundred meters from the shore — the fort of Peñon de Alhucemas belonging to the Spaniards. Together with two uninhabited, also Spanish, islets at the tip of the cape, the armed fort completely controls all access to Al Hoceima.

As a result, the Soviet and Moroccan sides agreed, by mutual consent, to change Al Hoceima to the good old Tangier, guarding the way out of the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. The Soviet Union agreed to provide technical assistance to Morocco in the construction of a shipyard and the organization of a training center in the Tangier area. For engineering and geological research, a section of the Mediterranean coast in Tangier Bay from the city to promontory Malabat was preliminarily determined.




The history of Al Hoceima is more Spanish than French or Portuguese. Long before the Soviet specialists, the Spanish Lieutenant General José Sanjurjo Sacanell took a liking to a wide strip of beach on the western shore of the Gulf of Alhucemas.

It was at the end of the war of Spain and France against the unification of the twelve coastal Berber tribes that formed the Rif Republic, led by Emir Abd el-Krim — Emir Muhammad ibn’ Abd al-Karim al-Khattabi, Abd el-Krim. On September 9, 1925, General Sanjurjo landed with numerous Spanish and French troops on the beach and founded in this place a city that became a coastal base for an offensive westward into the depths of the Rifs. The general modestly called it his name — Villa Sanjurjo, translated from the Spanish as «city of Sanjurjo».

After the surrender of Abd el-Krim, the Spanish King Alfonso XIII on November 21, 1927 established a special medal of Peace — Medalla PAZ de Marruecos 1909-1927, for the victory in the war, with short breaks lasting for 18 years. On the front side of the silver medal above the Moroccan city, the sun of civilization rises, framed by a wreath of laurel branches with a heartwarming bow under the dove of peace with a palm twig in its beak. The composition is crowned with a closed Spanish royal crown with a cap inside. On the reverse side there is quite pompous inscription, in the spirit of the current US president or [German] Frau chancellor:

Siempre dispuesta
a toda empresa de civi-
lizacion universal contri-
buyo a la de marruecos con
la sangre presiada de sus
hijos y con el oro de sus
arcas. El triunfo de sus
armas y la cultura de
sus metodos son los
cimientos de esta
gran obra de

In my translation: «Spain is always ready to participate in the campaign to join Morocco to the world civilization at the price of the sacred blood of its sons and gold from its treasury. The victory of arms and cultural methods are the basis of the great feat of humanity». The «great feat of humanity» was also based on: the use of poison gases, tanks, artillery, aviation, severed heads and raped and killed women, chopped off children and oldmen. However, the Rifs too were distinguished by mass slaughter of prisoners.

The medal was worn on a white ribbon with narrow green-red-yellow-red-green stripes along the edges, with an attached silver six-pointed star, made up of two crossing equilateral triangles — the emblem of the Sheriff Empire and Caliph, the nominal ruler of Northern Morocco under the Spaniards.

Even earlier, on June 29, 1916, the King instituted a military medal «For the Moroccan campaign» on a green ribbon. The front side of the oval medal with the inscription «MARRUECOS» was decorated with the moustached profile of the grenadier with a block of crosses and medals on the uniform and in the metal helmet of the Prussian sample «pickelhaube» with a sharp shishak. On the back, the winged and quite a warlike kind goddess of Victory was surrounded by the inscription  «REINANDO DON ALFONSO XIII» — «THE REIGN OF KING ALFONSO XIII».


The oval of a silver or bronze medal was crowned with a closed royal crown without a cap inside. Plates were attached to the tape with the names of units and battle sites, for example, «LEGION EXTRANJERA», «MELILLA», «TETUAN», «LARACH». There are variants of the medal of 1915 with the inscription on the front side of «CAMPAÑA del RIF» or «AFRICA».


General Sanjurjo.

For the victory, the King granted Lieutenant General Sanjurjo the title of 1st Marquis of Rif. The General became known as Teniente General José Sanjurjo Sacanell, 1 Marqués del Rif, and headed the Civil Guard. However, the Marquis soon quarreled with the King and the republican government that replaced him. After serving a short time in prison, the General went into exile in neighboring Portugal. The city founded by him on the African coast during the Second Spanish Republic was naturally renamed — it became, like the bay, called Alhucemas — Villa Alhucemas.


General Sanjurjo crashed on July 20, 1936, immediately after the start of the insurrection that led to the [Spanish] civil war, flying to Spain from the Portuguese airfield of Cascais, which lies west of Estoril, on a light two-seater plane, strut monoplane De Havilland DH, 80A «Puss Moth».

The aircraft was manufactured from 1929 to 1933 with a four-cylinder in-line air-cooled engine with a capacity of 130 horsepower. The pilot survived the accident. Official version: Sanjurjo took too heavy baggage with him and thus overloaded the plane.


Spanish Morocco. North Zone before 1956.

His Excellency the Head of State and the Caudillo (Leader) of Spain and the Crusade Francisco Paulino Ermenehildo Teodulo Franco Baamonde (Su Excelencia el Jefe de Estado, el Caudillo de España e de la Cruzada Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teódulo Franco Baamonde), who came to power as a result of the civil war, returned the name of General Sanjurjo to the city, under the command of which he landed in the Alhucemas Bay and fought against the Rifs at the head of the Spanish Foreign Legion.

Generalissimo Franco on stamp and coin.

Until 1956, the northern territory of Morocco, Zona Norte de Marruecos, which ran along a rough strip along the Mediterranean Sea, excluding the international zone of Tangier, was under the protectorate of Spain.

Formally, the power of the Sultan, who sat in a palace in Rabat in the French, southern zone of the protectorate, and who had governors in Tangier and Tetuán, the capital of Morocco, extended to all parts of Morocco. In fact, the “representative” of the Sultan in the Spanish Northern Zone of the Maroccan Empire, Imperio Marroqui, Zona Norte, called el Jalifa and el Majzen, — the caliph and manager of the estate of the sultan, — was exclusively a Spanish puppet and was subordinate to the High Commissioner — Alto Comisario de España.

From 1925 until the very end of the Spanish protectorate, the palace in Tetuan was occupied by the Caliph Moulay Hassan bin Mohammed Mehedi Ould Ismail, El Jalifa Muley (in French — Moulay) Hassan Ben Mohammed Mehedi Uld Ben Ismael, or just El Jalifa, as we will call him. For more than thirty years, the sultans changed four times in Rabat, but El Jalifa enjoyed life and did not worry about the future, defended by the black guard and Spanish troops, including the favorite of the Generalissimo Franco Marocan «regulars».

Spaniards began to give El Jalifa special honors and attention after the Second World War, when it was necessary to strengthen Spain’s independent position in colonial affairs. Perhaps Franco did not exclude the creation in the Northern Zone of a separate, submissive to Spain, an Arab-Berber state, or putting El Jalifa on the throne of the entire Morocco.

After the war, the High Commissioner was Lieutenant-General José Varela, 1st Marquis of San Fernando — Teniente General José Enrique Varela Iglesias, 1 Marques de San Fernando. With obvious intent, he titled Caliph «His Imperial Highness» — Su Alteza Imperial or S.A.I. El Jalifa. In 1949, for a whole month, from May 15 to June 15, El Jalifa’s wedding with the 21-year-old daughter of Sultan Abd al-Aliz, Princess of the Highborn Fatima Zuhra — la princesa Lalla Patima Zahara, or Fatima Zohra — was celebrated magnificently in Tetuan. General Varela presented the Caliph with rich gifts: Arabian horses, gold plates, table clocks. Spanish newsreel filmed all the ceremonies. The artist Mariano Bertuchi Nieto drew sketches for the colonial postage stamps dedicated to the Caliph and his wedding.


On a dark green stamp of 1 centimo (still with abbreviation cto) His Imperial Highness in a white burnous stands before the throne in the palace. A six-pointed star is clearly visible above his head.

On a blue stamp of 20 ctos, a black guardsman with a rifle on his shoulder paces in front of the gates of the palace in Tetuan.


On a crimson stamp worth of 50 + 10 centimo, «The Wedding of H.I.H. Caliph», «Boda de S.A.I. El Jalifa», the caliph goes to the square on a snow-white horse, and on airmail black-and-white stamp of 1 peseta + 10 centimo he is greeted by an enthusiastic crowd at the Palacio del Mexuar palace in Tetuan fortress (alcazaba) on the Square of Spain, now Hassan II Square — Plaza de España, hoy de Hasan II.

One of the last stamps with a nominal value of 70 centimo, painted by Bertuchi in 1955, is associated with another event — the 30th anniversary of the enthronement of the Caliph. Guardsman with a spear guards a solemn reception in the palace.

In 1956, Sultan Mohammed bin Yusef, Mohammed V, sent El Jalifa as ambassador to London…

The Spaniards built cities and ports; in the vicinity of the port cities — dams, bridges and roads.

When France in March, and Spain in April 1956 officially returned Morocco’s independence and, de facto, integrity, the Spanish Post Office did not recognize this independence and in August 1956 produced another colonial series of 8 postage stamps at the National Mint and Printing Office in Madrid (F.N.M.T. — Fabrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre) — sellos de correros de marruecos.


On the burgundy and light green stamps worth of 10 and 80 centimo (cts) depicted His Majesty Mohammed V, on the rest [ones] there are visible achievements of Spanish civilization on Moroccan soil. Since the famous artist, who painted all the previous series, Mariano Bertuchi, ended his days in 1955, and there was no replacement worthy of him, heliogravure from photographs was used for paired stamps. The dark gray and dark green stamps of 50 centimo and 10 pesetas (pts) depicted the Andalusian-style building of the Spanish Cultural Representative Office in Tetuan (Delegacion de cultura (Tetuan)) built in the 40s, which has now become the city’s tourist information center.

Dark blue and blue ones, of 25 centimo and 3 peseta, are dedicated to the Polytechnic School (Escuela politecnica) founded in Tetuan by the Spaniards to train national personnel. Now it is called lyceum and bears the name of a medieval Arabian alchemist, doctor and scientist Abu Abdallah Jabir ibn Khayyan al-Azdi al-Sufi, known in Europe as Geber, — Lycée Jābir (Jāber) ibn Hayyān.


But on the lilac and brown-yellow stamps of 2 peseta and 15 centimo depicted a port, which became my family while I was writing this book, — the port of Sanjurjo, crowded with fishing boats, or, in other words, Alhocemas, or, in a modern way, Al Hoceima. King Mohammed V wanted to turn this small port into the sea gate of an independent kingdom, establish a shipyard and base, but advisers recommended the outskirts of Tangier.

In December 1956, Sultan Mohammed bin Yusef was preparing to assume the crown of the independent Kingdom of Morocco, and in Spain they printed another series of colonial stamps for airmail. The series reminded of the outstanding Spanish engineering structures in the Northern Zone. On light pink and lilac-gray stamps of 1 peseta 40 centimo and 4 peseta 80 centimo there is a piston, four-engine, with three-fin feathering, the passenger liner L-1049, Lockheed «Super Constellation», which flies over the road bridge that connects the banks of the Nekor River, Oued Nekor, southeast of Al Hoceima — Puente Rio Nekor.


L-1049 «Super Constellation».

On a dark pink stamp with a nominal value of 25 centimo and on a brick-red stamp with a nominal of 3 peseta 40 centimo, the same plane flies over a grand dam on the Lau River between Al Hoceima and Tetuan — Presa riegos del Lau. The dam, a reservoir and a canal with a power station were built in 1935 according to a project by the Spanish engineer Don Gabriel Barceló Matutano to supply water and electricity to Tangier, Ceuta and Tetuan, and to irrigate dry lands.


I have all these stamps in my collection. A French-language website Timbres-du-maroc.info and the work of Enrique Gozalbes Cravioto, professor at the University of Castile-La Mancha, entitled «EL PROTECTORADO ESPAÑOL DE MARRUECOS (1912-1956) EN LAS IMÁGENES DE LOS SELLOS DE CORREOS» (2011) helped me in describing them. I hope that the reader, like me, has already sufficiently mastered the Spanish language, formerly so popular in the north of Kingdom of Morocco.

…The year 1961 ends. On November 29, at the invitation of King Hassan II, a group of Soviet specialists arrived in Rabat — three people only.


H.K. Bondarik and N.N. Chernyaev.

The head of the group was Nikolai Nikolaevich Chernyaev, a representative of the State Committee for Shipbuilding, who liked to be photographed in black glasses, and I don’t know anything else about him. In the father’s notes there is a remark concerning the first walk in Rabat:

«…Then we went to the European part of the city. N.N. is well oriented [in the city]. We were surprised by the cleanliness and order. Good publicity. A magnificent catholic cathedral, built on a long time».

Nikolai Nikolayevich had previously been to Morocco, at least in Rabat, [he] was familiar with city’s restaurants.

The group included the geologist Henry Kondratievich Bondarik. Henry Bondarik, famous in many countries professor of Moscow State Geological Exploration University, who lives in Moscow on Lilac Boulevard, and his caring spouse helped me prepare for my trip to Morocco in my father’s footsteps, [they] added photos and documents. Among them — a color postcard with a young Brigitte Bardot, sitting in a chair, in a blue pullover and a white lace skirt. In the foreground are two charming, innocently folded legs. The photographer was, of course, the famous Sam Lévin.


On the reverse side, the card is diagonally signed, boldly, in Russian: «As a keepsake from paramour, to my dear Henry». And the autograph, well copied with the same ink BBARDOT. Paris, 28.11.61. Knowing the father’s penchant for friendly jokes and spoofs, I do not exclude his involvement in the creation of this masterpiece.

The third member of the group of Soviet specialists, a hydrograph engineer, my father, Yevgeny Petrovich Churov, turned 44 y.o. on February 1, 1962. He celebrated his birthday in Tangier, at the «Rif» Hotel on the shores of the Mediterranean. In fact, as I said, he was a naval officer and scientist, as the Moroccans and French probably guessed. The father had to participate in the selection of the [shipyard] construction site and survey the area adjacent to it. He never worked in shipyards, but during the [Second World] war he gained quite a significant experience in the hydrographic support of the existing, under construction and planned naval bases: on Lake Ladoga in Sortavala, Osintsovo, Novaya Ladoga; in Finnish skerries; on the island of Bornholm.

The archive reference from the Central Naval Archive in Gatchina contains information about the father’s trip to Morocco:

In the order of the Chief of the Naval Academy of the Order of Lenin of November 25, 1961, No. 713 reads:

«Consider as gone on a business trip: Captain 1st Rank Y.P. Churov, from November 24, 1961 to January 20, 1962. Moscow». The place of business trip is not specified in the order.

The basis: Ф. 879. Лп. 5. Д. 12. Л. 127.


Y.P. Churov in Tangier.

In the correspondence of the Navy’s personnel department for 1962 there is a report by the head of the 4th division of the Navy’s personnel department dated January 30, 1962 to the head of the personnel department of the State Committee of the Council of Ministers of the USSR on foreign economic relations, which reads:

«At your request, I am sending a reference about the Captain 1st Rank Churov Yevgeny Petrovich in order to extend his stay in Morocco».

The basis: Ф. 3. Оп. 56 сс. Д. 5. Л. 351.

Thanks to my friends from the Gatchina naval archive.


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