No Unauthorized Entry: What Divers Will Be Looking For In The Gulf Of Finland

За работой. Фото предоставлено Разведывательно-водолазной командой

The second stage of the expedition "Voices of the Lost Ships" has begun with the support of the RGS and the Presidential Grants Fund. Konstantin Bogdanov's “Underwater Exploration Team” plans to identify and explore the Soviet transports "Vtoraya Pyatiletka" and "Vyborg" that sank during the Great Patriotic War.

The motor ship "Vtoraya Pyatiletka" – a logging vessel of the “Volgoles” type – was launched in 1934. Ships of this type were the first designed and built civilian vessels in the USSR.

"The ‘Vtoraya Pyatiletka’ is the largest sunken transport ship-participant of the Tallinn Breakout, that was carrying equipment and passengers,” said the head of the expedition Konstantin Bogdanov. “We found a photo taken by a German pilot, which shows the burning ‘Vtoraya Pyatiletka’ on a shoal opposite the lighthouse on the island of Gogland. The crew and passengers escaped to Gogland.”


Теплоход Балтийского государственного морского пароходства "Вторая Пятилетка". Фото предоставлено Разведывательно-водолазной командой

The motor ship “Vyborg” was built in 1934 in Germany by order of a German shipping company and was named “Cairo”. The vessel was purchased by the USSR in the summer of 1940 and became part of the Baltic Sea Shipping Company, receiving the name "Vyborg". In 1941, it, as well as the "Vtoraya Pyatiletka", was mobilized to transport military cargo.

The “Vyborg” became the first Soviet transport lost in the Gulf of Finland since the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, and the only one destroyed by Finnish submariners. Two submarines (one of them is now on display at the Suomenlinna Museum in Helsinki) met the “Vyborg” when it was going without any escort to Tallinn to evacuate grain from there to Leningrad. The ship tried to break away from the submarines, but a torpedo hit the stern, sent it to the bottom. All crew members of the “Vyborg” (presumably, the ship was sailing without cargo and passengers) escaped to the island of Moshchny (then Lavansaari).

The sunken transport (it is assumed that it is the “Vyborg”) was discovered by a search boat of the “Fertoing” company in May 2022.


Теплоход Балтийского государственного морского пароходства "Выборг". Фото предоставлено Разведывательно-водолазной командой

Both vessels are located in the Gulf of Finland: "Vtoraya Pyatiletka" southwest of Gogland at a depth of about 70 m; the "Vyborg" at a 50-meter depth athwart the island Moshchny.

“The most difficult thing is that both vessels lie on the navigable waterway,” Konstantin Bogdanov notes. “Therefore, we will work with the support of the Baltic Fleet, since the exploration areas during our dives should be closed to navigation.”

Divers discovered the "Vtoraya Pyatiletka" in 2022 and made several dives to it. In the bow part of the ship there were clearly visible traces of bomb hits, breaks on the deck. The 120-meter-long ship has five large holds, three of which divers plan to inspect.

“According to our data, the ‘Vtoraya Pyatiletka’ took more than 2,000 tons of military equipment into the holds, dozens of trucks were fixed on its deck,” Konstantin Bogdanov explains. “During the dive, I suddenly found either a tractor or a caterpillar tractor. Perhaps, in addition to trucks, other equipment of great historical interest was loaded on board. That's what we have to find out.”

The expedition participants will make an accurate identification of the “Vyborg” transport, examine the two sunken ships in detail, take photos and shoot videos with partial photogrammetry of the main elements of the ships, as well as study the cargo on the deck of the "Vtoraya Pyatiletka" in detail.