On July 13, Metropolitan of Tallinn and All Estonia Yevgeny (Reshetnikov) served a litiya for the crew of the M-96 submarine at its wreckage site in the Estonian part of the Gulf of Finland. Until now, this submarine has been considered missing. On the eve, the participants of the international expedition of the Russian Geographical Society made a dive in the Narva Bay and reliably identified the remains of the M-96.
The search for the submarine lasted three years. It was searched for from two sides by the Russian search specialists from "Underwater Exploration Team" and the Estonian team Maxstar Explorer. The place of sinking in Narva Bay on the border of the two countries was previously established by the historian Miroslav Morozov – the German minefield Seeiegel, south of the island of Bolshoi Tyuters. This is a fairly large area, so searches were unsuccessful.
According to the head of the expedition, director of "Underwater Exploration Team" Konstantin Bogdanov, the situation changed when Russian and Estonian search specialists joined forces.
“We put together the information we had and narrowed the search boundaries,” he says. "Since the pandemic had not allowed us to work in the territorial waters of Estonia for a long time, we asked our colleagues to go to the new area. They searched for 24 hours and finally found the submarine's hull. Now it was necessary to go down to the bottom and make sure that they found exactly the M-96. This is what we did the other day after we completed the second stage of our main expedition to find the ships that took part in the Tallinn Breakout."
A diving inspection of the find was carried out on July 10, 2021. The characteristic design features and details of mine protection confirmed that the found submarine was the M-96.
M-96 is Soviet small submarine of the XII series, type M "Malyutka".
Laid down on July 26, 1937, at the plant No. 112 "Krasnoe Sormovo", Gorky. Launched on July 20, 1938. It entered service on November 20, 1939. December 12, 1939, entered the Red Banner Baltic Fleet
June 22, 1941, it met under the command of Captain lieutenant Alexander Marinesko as part of the 8th submarine division of the 2nd submarine brigade. Based on the island of Gogland. In March 1943, A. Marinesko was appointed commander of the C-13, Captain lieutenant Nikolai Kartashov became the new commander of the M-96.
On September 7, 1944, the boat went to reconnoiter minefields in the Narva Bay. On September 8, it did not make contact . Presumably, it was blown up by a mine and sank with the entire crew (22 people).
The boat crossed all the minefields, entered the area of the recommended position and began to perform the combat mission. At the same time, it was able to pass unnoticed by the German submarines on duty in the Narva Bay.
The M-96 lies in the northern part of the Narva Bay at a depth of 42 meters. Inspection showed that the ship was destroyed on the surface, probably during the night charging of the batteries. The engine telegraph on the bridge shows the command "Full ahead", the rudder is turned to the right, the upper conning tower hatch is open. A mine explosion occurred under the bow of the boat, breaking the hull.
Based on an analysis of German documents, Miroslav Morozov suggests that, most likely, the M-96 sank on September 10, 1944 at 3:48 a.m. It was at this time that a German submarine, located in the Narva Bay, recorded a mine explosion.
The M-96 was the only submarine lost by the Baltic Fleet in 1944.
It is noteworthy that a German small minesweeper R73 was discovered 120 meters from the M-96 wreck, which was blown up by a mine and sank on June 14, 1944. As it turned out, a German ship sank in the same German minefield as the M-96.
“Today is a very important day,” continues Konstantin Bogdanov. "The three-year search for the M-96 is over. There is one tragic secret less in the history of the Great Patriotic War. The crew of the submarine was put to rest."
Until now, it was believed that the M-96 is located somewhere in the territorial waters of the Russian Federation. Its discovery in Estonian waters puts an end to the debate whether all the submarines that sank within the borders of the Russian Federation have been found and identified.
"In May 2019, during the underwater search expedition 'A bow to the ships of the Great Victory' in the area of the island of Bolshoi Tyuters, the submarine Shch-302 was discovered. They say the war is not over until the last soldier is buried. Now we know for certain that the submarine war within the borders of Russia is over," concluded the head of the expedition.
The next goal of "Underwater Exploration Team" is to find all the sunk Soviet submarines in the entire Gulf of Finland. Konstantin Bogdanov says that there are three of them: Shch-301, "Kalev", M-98. They sank as a result of enemy attacks in 1941. The search will continue.
The expedition in the waters of the Gulf of Finland was supported by "Sevmash" JSC, the Presidential Grants Fund and "Transneft" PJSC.