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At the bottom of the river they found the wreck of a beautiful steamer from 1904.

In Russia, a group of local technical divers from the city of Perm found the wreck of a steamer from 1904 in the waters of the Slava River. The search, carried out on the basis of heard information, allowed to discover and learn about an extremely interesting history and to locate a very interesting wreck.
Published: November 16, 2020 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 21:34
At the bottom of the river they found the wreck of a beautiful steamer from 1904.

In Russia, a group of local technical divers from the city of Perm found the wreck of a steamer from 1904 in the waters of the Slava River. The search, carried out on the basis of heard information, allowed to discover and learn about an extremely interesting history and to locate a very interesting wreck.

Divers from Perm make no secret of the fact that their immediate surroundings are not spoilt for choice when it comes to diving attractions. Although the city is located on the Kama river, and a piece to the east flows the river connecting with it the Sliva, but interesting diving sites are not to be sought here in vain.

Historic photo of the steamer Vera Finger So it should come as no surprise that when a group of local divers heard the news about the sunken passenger ship, they decided to go in search of the wreck. After all, it was something different than diving on the wreck of a deliberately sunken AN-2 aircraft in a flooded quarry near the city of Nizhny Tagil, from which they are only… 400 km away.

First we talked to the oldest of the local people to get as much information as possible. Then we took the boat and started to explore the bottom with the sonar. Our work finally had an effect and the outlines of a large object that looked like a ship appeared on the monitor of the device. That’s when we realised we had it,” said Artem Kazin, a diver who took part in the search

Sonar scan view of the wreck of the steamer Vera Finger The next stage was for the divers to explore the wreck. Divided into teams of two, they took turns exploring the found vessel. The whole process required appropriate skills and caution. The low water temperature, visibility of no more than 2-3 metres and underwater currents created a dangerous mix.

When the wreck appeared before our eyes, we stared at it as if hypnotised. We admired the portholes, the paddle wheel and the various elements emerging from the darkness. Due toour experience in wreck and cave exploration, we could afford a partial exploration of its interior, where today instead of elegant ladies in dresses and gentlemen in frock coats, the regulars are 10-kilo zanders, ” shared Andrey Kengurogov, a diver participating in the exploration of the wreck

According to reports from divers in Perm, the three-deck steamer is well preserved. The wreck settled evenly on its keel after sinking and rests at a depth of 18 metres. The only visible damage is the detached bow. According to stories from local residents, this happened when the steamer began to sink in the mid-1960s and attempts were made to pull it back to shore with winches.

A group of divers exploring the wreck of the steamer Vera Finger Finding the wreck is only the beginning of the work and there is still much to be done. The next step is to be the identification of the vessel, which, however, is considered a formality. According to the information gathered so far, the wreck found sank under the name Vera Figner. By searching forums and archives, it was possible to trace the history of the vessel, which was renamed several times.

Built as a cargo and passenger steamer in the Murom shipyard in 1904, it was named Empress Catherine. Later the ship was bought by the M.K. Kashin shipping company and the name was changed to Haritina. The steamer sailed between Rybinsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan and Perm. In 1928 there was another name change, this time to Vera Figner.

Digging into the history of the Vera Finger, further interesting information has come to light. It turns out that when, at the beginning of the 1960s, the old steamers began to be replaced by modern vessels with diesel engines, some of them were moored permanently on the banks of the Kama and the Syłwa, where they began to serve as living quarters for the regulars of various camps and sanatoriums.

There are reports that some vessels disappeared without trace, such as the three-deck steamer Sofia Perovskaya, which was one day replaced by another ship. No one wanted to answer the questions about the fate of the vessel asked by students of the Perm Polytechnic Institute, who were periodically stationed on the steamer during the camps.

Such information combined with various large objects, which were found during sonar scans of the bottom, fire the imagination of divers from Perm. Only yesterday diving for them was inevitably connected with a distant trip, but in the meantime it turns out that soon their waters may become a destination for divers from other parts of Russia.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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