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  • Divers find wartime wreck of Soviet sub

    Posted by patrickj on 11 juni 2009 om 10:59

    Divers find wartime wreck of Soviet sub
    Divers find wartime wreck of Soviet sub

    [I], Wednesday 10 June 2009 15.36 BST
    Success after long search for vessel lost in 1940 after hitting mine in war with Finland

    A Soviet submarine that was lost almost 70 years ago on a wartime mission against Finland has been discovered lying semi-intact on the floor of the Baltic Sea, its gun tower and broken hull visible in the gloom.

    A team of Swedish and Finnish divers announced yesterday that they had discovered the remains of the S-2 submarine near the Aland islands between Sweden and Finland. The submarine disappeared on the afternoon of 3 January 1940 after hitting a mine.

    A diver examines the sub’s periscope tower. Photograph: Stefan Hogeborn/Scanpix/Reuters

    At the time the sub was part of the Soviet Union’s 1939-40 war against Finland. Germany and the Soviet Union were still allies. Stalin, the Soviet leader, had tried to grab Finnish territory but encountered heavier than expected resistance.

    The sub was navigating in icy enemy waters when a mine struck its torpedo chamber, killing all 50 crew. The team of divers spent a decade scouring the seabed, which is littered with second world war debris, for the wreck. It was finally located in February, but was not positively identified until this week. “One of our divers was the grandson of the lighthouse keeper, who actually spotted the sub and saw the explosion. He jotted down the precise co-ordinates of where it disappeared,” team spokesman Bjِrn Rosenlِf told Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. “We searched the seabed summer after summer without success. Then we found it.”

    Divers spotted the barnacle-encrusted stern of the sub – the front was destroyed in the explosion that sank it. They found its propeller and gun tower as well as its shipyard production number, 267, and a Soviet hammer and sickle – all clinching evidence that it was the missing S-2 sub.

    Today one Russian submarine expert said the crew would have had no chance of survival. “It was clearly a monstrous explosion. They might have been able to survive for a couple of hours but no longer,” said Captain Igor Kurdin, of Russia’s submariners’ association.

    He added: “During the war Finland’s naval fleet was rather weak. But they had an effective system of underwater mines and nets, cleverly deployed. They were very dangerous for our submarines. The S-2 was clearly a victim of one of these Finnish mines.”

    After nearly 70 years there was only a slim chance of finding traces of the crew, like bones or belt buckles, he said. “Any bodies would have been swept out by currents, or eaten by fish or plankton. As a general rule sunken ships and submarines are treated as a burial ground and are not disturbed.”

    According to Kurdin, around 100 Soviet-era submarines were still lost, and in most cases their final resting places were not known. He paid tribute to the team of Swedish-Finnish divers who located another Soviet wreck in the same area two years ago.

    The Soviet Union’s winter war against Finland is one of the less well-known episodes of the second world war. Stalin attacked Finland on 30 November 1939, three months after Germany’s rapid invasion of Poland, but before the conflagration enveloped the whole of Europe.

    Unlike the Germans, however, Stalin encountered unexpected resistance from the outnumbered Finns, who waged a successful guerrilla war against inexperienced Red Army troops, many of whose officers had been executed in purges. Finland signed a treaty with the Soviets in March 1940, ceding 9% of its territory.

    The divers conducted the search at their own expense. “My feelings were mixed,” diver Marten Zetterstrom told Reuters about finding the vessel. “There it was, this war machine that was built to take ships down. I was happy, sad, depressed and elated all at once.”

    Bron: Divers find wartime wreck of Soviet sub | World news |

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