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The wreck of a German ship from 1943 has been found in the Baltic Sea

Published: May 17, 2023 - 13:15
Updated: July 23, 2023 - 02:13
The wreck of a German ship from 1943 has been found in the Baltic Sea
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A group of Russian divers from the UWEX team has found the wreck of the German ship SAT 20 West, which was sunk by the Soviet aircrafts on September 15, 1943.

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Eighty years after the sinking, the UWEX group’s reconnaissance and diving team located and identified the wreck of the German gunboat SAT 20 West in the Gulf of Finland. While diving on the wreck, the group documented a number of structural details and found the ship’s bell.

Archival photo of the SAT 20 West gunboat in 1942
Archival photo of the SAT 20 West gunboat in 1942. Photo by E. Gröner

The wreck rests tilted to starboard at a depth of 44 meters with the bow buried in the bottom. The superstructure at the stern, gun ports and a 150mm gun in an armored cover, as well as anti-aircraft machine guns, are clearly visible. There are also scattered helmets lying around the hull, and the ship’s bell is still in place at the stern.

Diver exploring the wreck of a German gunboat
Diver exploring the wreck of a German gunboat

Interestingly, it was not until the wreck was found and identified that the Russians learned that the vessel had sunk. Previously, in the Soviet documentation compiled from the pilots’ report, the ship was listed as “damaged.” So, it turns out that at the end of the day the SAT 20 West fell victim to pilots from the Baltic Fleet and thus became the largest enemy ship sunk by Soviet aircrafts during World War II.

The unit was hit with a 100 kg bomb by the Soviet aircraft
The unit was hit with a 100 kg bomb by the Soviet aircraft

On the night of September 15, 1943, three Soviet MBR-2 reconnaissance aircraft from the 58th Independent KBF squadron attacked German ships near the island of Bolshoy Tyuters. The crew, consisting of junior lieutenants Nikolai Borisov and Nikolai Korolev and Sergeant Nikolai Zavizion, later reported that they had damaged one of the enemy vessels.

Ship's bell found at the stern of the wreck
Ship’s bell found at the stern of the wreck

However, in reality, a 100-kilogram bomb from their plane hit the bow of the SAT 20 West vessel. As a result of the damage the German gunboat sank in just a few minutes. Twenty-one sailors were killed at the time, which was almost half of the vessel’s crew.

The search was conducted as part of the long-term project “Bowing to the Ships of the Great Victory. Voices of the fallen ships”. So far, the efforts have allowed Russians to find wrecks of many ships that were sunk during World War II in the Gulf of Finland area. Among them are the Floatbattery Ost, submarines UJ-1204, UJ-1216, UJ-1205, UJ-1211 and two German barges near Gogland Island. On the other hand, in the Kaliningrad region, near Baltiysk, the German ship VP-1802, sunk by Soviet IL-2 attack aircraft, has been identified.

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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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