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Wreck of a legendary destroyer found in the Baltic

An international team of divers from Finland and the Russian Federation, found and identified in the waters of the Gulf of Finland the wreck of the destroyer “Novik”, one of the most legendary vessels of the Tsarist and later Soviet fleet. Having entered service in 1913, it was the fastest and one of the most
Published: June 18, 2018 - 16:03
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 16:56
Wreck of a legendary destroyer found in the Baltic

An international team of divers from Finland and the Russian Federation, found and identified in the waters of the Gulf of Finland the wreck of the destroyer “Novik”, one of the most legendary vessels of the Tsarist and later Soviet fleet. Having entered service in 1913, it was the fastest and one of the most modern ships in the world and took part in virtually all the naval battles in the Baltic Sea fought in the First World War.

The search was conducted as part of a joint project between a Finnish diving and search team SubZone and the Russian Underwater Search Team Разведывательно-водолазная команда. The work ended with the location of the sinking site and the exploration and identification of the wreck of the destroyer “Novik”, near the Estonian cape Juminda.

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The wreck lies at a depth of 75 metres in the middle of the Gulf of Finland. The hull of the vessel was broken into two parts as a result of an explosion caused by hitting a mine. The bow section is raised, while the stern, with the main guns and superstructure, rests evenly on the keel. On the wreck you can clearly see the name of the ship, which was on it at the time of sinking – “Yakov Sverdlov”, and also the coat of arms of the USSR.

The likely site of the ship’s sinking was pinpointed by Russian historian Mikhail Ivanov, who identified it from German archival material. The documents contained data about a depth charge bombardment in 1943, against a certain object that the Germans recognized as a Soviet submarine (it was later assumed that it might be Shch-406), but as is known today, Sch-406 sank near the island of Bolshoy Tyuters (Tytärsaari).

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A sonar search by Immi Wallin, head of SubZone, found a destroyer-like wreck with clearly visible guns on the aft deck. This was enough to send a team of divers to the bottom to inspect and possibly identify the wreck.

The dive was conducted on 16 June 2018, from the research vessel “Yoldia”. A team comprising Immi Wallin, Pasi Lammi, Mikhail Ivanov, Konstantin Bogdanov and Innokenty Olkhovoy identified the ship, finding the name “Yakov Sverdlov” and the Soviet Union’s coat of arms on the stern. The three 102mm main guns, located on the aft deck, were examined, as well as the distinctive stern of the “Novika” with its spare steering wheel and machine telegraph.

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An examination of the ship’s breaking point was carried out, revealing that the legendary vessel had been virtually torn in two by a powerful mine explosion in the area of the second funnel.

The destroyer was sunk on August, 28th, 1941 during the evacuation of Tallinn while escorting the cruiser “Kirov”. The reason of sinking was entering of the German-Finnish mine field “Juminda”.

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The construction of the destroyer began with the laying of the keel in 1910 in the Petersburg shipyard Putilovsky Plant. The ship was finished on September, 9th, 1913. “Novik” was the first destroyer built in its class. It was 102.4 meters long and 9.5 meters wide, with the draught of 7.2 meters.

During World War I it was the fastest ship on Earth, developing a speed of 37.3 knots, and one of the most modern. The Novik class destroyers were also the first to run on oil instead of coal.

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During the ongoing civil war in Russia, in November, 1917, the crew of “Novik” goes to the side of Bolsheviks, who in 1923 rename it to “Yakov Sverdlov”.

Source: SubZone, Разведывательно-водолазная команда
Photo: Innokenty Olkhovoy

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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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