International Marine Club in Nakhodka celebrates 60 years

Nakhodka International Marine Club celebrates 60 years. In  the  Soviet times the  club was considered as a means  in the ideological fight against the  imperialist  advocacy. The club  was the headquarters  of the  Nakhodka Office  of  the USSR-Japan and  the USSR-PRC   Friendship Societies, but when the  Soviet Union was broken up,  the Marine Centre became  a municipal institution of  culture.  However,  the club's  key  purpose  is to  set up a comfortable and home-like conditions for  seafarers,  whatever a  political situation emerges in the  country.  Since  its  establishment,  about 1,000,000 seafarers have visited  the  Centre. 

The  USSR Maritime  and River Fleet Workers' Union was an author  of  idea to  create  the  Nakhodka International Club of Seafarers. Nakhodka  became  an international port and there  emerged a necessity  of the Centre's  foundation. The Japanese vessel Yoshinogawa-Maru  was first  foreign ship  which was berthed at the Nakhodka Sea Commercial Port in 1946. For the first time  in 12 years after the landmark event, the  Interclub opened its doors for seafarers on November 3, 1958.  62 foreign  vessels, including 55 under the Japanese flag, visited Nakhodka during the  first year of its working and  after ratification of a Commercial Agreement  and also a Trade and Payment  Agreement  between the Soviet Union and  Japan. 

Initially the Interclub operated as the International  Sector  of  the  International Marine  Club  in Nakhodka  and was placed in two rooms of the port's  hostel. The Seafarers' Culture House came into service in 1959 and the Intersector  was moved into the new building, where  it got for the seafarers needs the first floor  in the right  wing of the  building. Due to rise of  foreign ships calling in Nakhodka, the Intersector was reorganized into  the International Seafarers' Club  and  subsequently  it got two floors  at the Culture  House.

Over 30 years the  Interclub was the headquarters  of  the  Nakhodka  Office  of  the USSR-Japan  Friendship Society and it  became  the  head office of  the  USSR-PRC Society in 1984. Within  60 years  hundreds  of  international meetings  and receptions  have been held here. The international seminars of  young  researchers from 29 countries, gathering  on the  matter of   the  peace  and cooperation problems  in the Pacific  Ocean, were being the  brightest  events from 1974 to 1985. Also the Russia-Japan and  Russia-US  negotiations  on cooperation  and cultural ties of Nakhodka   were  as much as remarkable. 

Before the  collapse  of  the USSR, the  Interclub was a sheltered institution, which was considered as a means  of the  ideological  fight  against the  imperialist advocacy and  was a mediator   of the  socialist regime  ideas  among foreign seafarers. Among the Nakhodka  youth learning  the  foreign languages,  only few made  their  way into the  club's  members through the  Komsomol City Committee. But  since 1990s the  club opened its  doors  for all citizens  and   guests of Nakhodka.

The club was funded by   the Marine  Transport Workers' Union    through the  Social Insurance  Funds until 1992. Due  to the unions have  been withdrawn from social insurance  by the    government,  the  subsides   were stopped  in 1992. The Nakhodka Interclub closing was on agenda and it could share the fate of all same  organizations  in Russia at the  time. 

Given the situation there was the silver bullet: to establish the Interclub-based municipal institution of  culture  and maintain its key activities, especially the cultural and supporting services for  seafarers. Then the City Administration helped directly. According to the Resolution No.949 signed by the  Nakhodka  mayor, Victor Gnezdilov, the  Interclub was reorganized in the municipal institution  of culture  called the International Marine Club  on July 18, 1994. The  new Charter of the club  was registered  in August, 1994 and the  municipal fund started to finance  its working.

The situation was seemingly the  best, however,  the unsolved problems remained. The  fixed assets,  equipment and  transport  were completely worn   out and the  facilities were  required   a major repair. The  municipal budget wasn't  able  to  pay these needs and  only covered costs on personnel salaries and  the  utility services.

The  International Transport Workers' Federation  (ITF) came  to help. In 1995 the ITF provided a financial support  of $600,000, thereby the club had an opportunity  to significantly   improve  assets, to buy cars, to renew the  playing and musical equipment.  In 1999 the ITF Seafarers' Trust  and  its  financial assistance made it  possible  to conduct a major repair  and reconstruct the  club's rooms and subsequently  to enlarge its area.  Today  the  club occupies three floors comprising  of 900 square meters. There are  a concert hall, a meeting  room, a  bar,  a masters' room,  gym and playing hall in the club. The  club's activities on the seafarers welfare  were highly  appreciated at the  international   seminars in St. Petersburg in 1995, in Yalta  in 1997, in  Novorossiysk in 1999, in Helsinki in 2001 and  in Odessa  in 2002. 

Creating for  seafarers  the  comfortable  and like-home conditions always remains the core target of the  Interlub. Nowadays    they can use  all  modern communications, Internet, satellite TV  and also to rest in a bar, to attend  concerts,  to read books and magazines, to play the games, to take  a  city  tour  with the support of the  club's translators  and so on.

The Port of Nakhodka has been  visited  by more 50,000 ships  under 46 different  flags since  the  club's establishment. Many crews have  attended  the club, among them are seafarers  from Greece, Turkey, India, Poland, Germany, France, England, Singapore, Hong Kong, the  Philippines, Indonesia, China, Cuba, Canada, South and North America etc.  3,000 foreign seafarers  and 12,000 Russian crews visit the  club annually. Now different events are being held  in the  club, including City Administration meetings, seminars,  meetings with deputies, receptions, conferences, presentations, negotiations,  literary evenings, concerts of local creative teams.

The club's workers became  the members of  the  Far Eastern Regional Organization of the  Seafarers' Union of  Russia  (SUR FERO) in 1998. The SUR's reps are the frequent guests here and they hold  meetings  with  seafarers  and help them  to resolve  problems.  The International Marine Club became   a member   of  the  Nakhodka Transport Association in 1998. The  club  has close relationships  with the shipowners  and the  maritime  agencies.

The  club aims all efforts   to improve a cultural  service  and welfare of   crews visiting the Port of Nakhodka. This measure contributes  to strengthening the  global   prestige of  Nakhodka, Primorsky Krai  and Russia, in general, the club's director, Roman Ermakov, pointed out.