In the 13th century, Mongolia was a world power, with a feared empire created by the legendary Genghis Khan. Most of the Mongols' military might was land-based, and they conquered most of Asia, the Middle East, and portions of Eastern Europe. But the Mongols wielded naval power, too. Under Kublai Khan, the Mongol military rolled over China's Song Dynasty and even set its sights on Japan, until its navy was destroyed by a pair of typhoons. Centuries later, Mongolia is a land-locked country with a peaceable foreign policy. Its navy currently consists of one tugboat, the Sukhbaatar III, manned by a crew of seven sailors who patrol Lake Khövsgöl -- mainly hauling freight and ferrying tourists.
In the Mongolian navy:
- Lake Khövsgöl is a freshwater lake located entirely in Mongolia, just a few miles from the Russian border; it's often considered a sister lake to Lake Baikal. Both lakes are believed to have formed several million years ago and are among the oldest lakes on Earth.
- Lake Khövsgöl holds about 70 percent of Mongolia's freshwater resources. On a clear day, you can see 140 feet (43 m) down into the depths, thanks to its unadulterated, crystal clear water.
- According to a 2001 documentary, only one of the seven sailors on the Sukhbaatar III knows how to swim.