Underwater worship: Divers start work on Orthodox church, 20 metres deep

A three-metre high cross has been placed on the sea bed near Sevastopol in the Crimea.Igor Reznik/Facebook

Construction of the world's first underwater Orthodox church has begun off the coast of Crimea.

The project is backed by Archimandrite Tikhon, himself a keen diver, the 'Mother of the Beavers' diving club in Sevastopol and the Night Wolves motorcycle gang, known for their right-wing nationalism.

The church is to be built around 100 metres off the coast of Cape Fiolent, near Sevastopol, at a depth of around 20 metres.

The first part to be erected was a three-metre tall cross incorporating a ship's anchor design.

Archimandrite Tikhon told RIA Novosti that the building would look like a normal church. "Inside there will be images, icons – everything that you would find in a church," he said.

Before the summer diving season ends, divers also plan to install a table and massive concrete candle holders.

Tikhon also wants the site to feature relics from the Crimean War (1854-55), which saw Sevastopol besieged by British and French forces in a campaign that saw historic battles including the Charge of the Light Brigade, and the battles of 1941-42 against German forces. He hopes it will become a tourist attraction.

The church will be named after St Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors.