Near the industrial outskirts of Kyiv Korchevaty and crane cemetery, in the middle of the Dnieper there is an unusual structure that can even be seen from South Bridge. The round concrete tower, topped with a stepped platform, is located near the fairway, on stilts 12 meters long and was built in the early 1980s. This object is often mistaken for an element of the so-called “Stalin tunnels” or tunnels under the Dnieper, but this is not so.
This tower in the middle of the river, referred to in the navigable language as “pal”, performs a rather exotic function these days. It helps eliminate errors in ship magnetic compasses (there is a deviation of the compass needle from the magnetic meridian, for example, under the influence of large masses of metal or the natural magnetic field of the Earth; the ancient Phoenicians and northern Pomor sailors learned to correct it, using a homemade device made from mammoth bone for this purpose) .
– Each ship must correct errors in the operation of its magnetic compass at least once a year. Kyiv is located at the junction of two reservoirs and this is a mandatory procedure! Even now, when ships are equipped with GPS, locators, and other modern equipment, they all depend on a power source and can fail at any time. But the good old magnetic compass will always point north and direct the ship’s movement in any situation,” said the head of the communications and radio navigation service of Ukrrichflot.
Previously, the deviation tower was located on the site of the South Bridge, but then it was moved closer to Korchevatoy, spending approximately 2,000,000 Soviet rubles on it. The deviation tower is built of monolithic concrete, with a minimum of iron structures necessary for mooring ships that have a deviator on board – usually, ships receive it at the Osokorki pier, near the dachas. Using a special device, this person compares the readings of the ship’s compass with the coordinates of a concrete tower oriented to permanent marks – for example, factory pipes or towers of high-voltage power lines. And it adjusts the compass to the north-east or south-west, eliminating its errors.
Large motor ships adjust their compass without mooring to the “boom” – they simply float around the deviation tower in a circle, performing that same strange maneuver that has repeatedly surprised many Kyiv summer residents and fishermen. But none of the ships can go on a long voyage without a certificate of deviation work carried out, which is certified by the company seal of a “deviator” decorated with an anchor – an honorable profession in the river fleet, but, unfortunately, a dying profession today. As of 2018, there are less than 10 specialists in deviation in Ukraine.