Second Season of Northern Fleet and RGS’s Expedition "Remember the War" Has Ended

Работа Комплексной экспедиции Северного флота и РГО "Помни войну". Фото: пресс-служба СФ

The second season of the complex expedition of the Russian Geographical Society and the Northern Fleet "Remember the War" ended with the return to the base of the hydrographic vessel "Nikolay Skosyrev". From April to November 2022, within the framework of the project, nine stages of expedition work took place in the Barents and White Seas, in Kola Bay and near Teriberka, as well as near the islands of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago. More than 370 people took part in them on 11 ships and boats.

The expedition managed to find 21 submerged vessels (10 of them in Zapadnaya Litsa Bay) and to clarify the coordinates of six more. In addition, the markings for seven objects were removed from the maps. The data on them were charted, based among other things on historical documents, but in the end the data were found to be unsubstantiated. As a result of the expedition work, the vessel “Proletary” discovered in 2021 was identified, and the M3 Lee tank was lifted to the surface.

Based on the results of the expedition, a final report and a composite map were prepared. It shows the places where the Northern Fleet has been finding sunken ships and aircraft since 2013.


Работа с картой. Фото: пресс-служба СФ

"The main objects of the search – the vessels of the convoy PQ-17 – have not been found for objective reasons. And the location of the ‘Olopana’ and the ‘Alcoa Ranger’ vessels, previously found in the expedition ‘Convoy-2003’ at the coordinates brought to the navigators, has not been confirmed. Now we can talk about it with complete certainty," said the press service of the Northern Fleet.

The most important result of the work was the discovery of the hydrographic vessel “Meridian”. The wreck location of the “Meridian” was significantly distorted in the post-war historical literature for unknown reasons. Because of this, the search had not yielded results for more than 70 years.

On the very last day of expedition, the “Meridian” was discovered at a depth of about 60m by the crew of the small hydrographic vessel “Nikolay Skosyrev”. It happened near the island of Bolshoy Litsky off the eastern coast of the Kola Peninsula. The hull of the wreck is intact, but there is no deckhouse. The exact coordinates of the wreck of the “Meridian” will be mapped; and passing civilian vessels and warships will be able to honor the memory of the crew who died at sea, fulfilling their professional duty.

The hydrographic vessel “Meridian” under the command of Lieutenant Commander Egorov left Murmansk on July 22, 1941. On board, in addition to the crew, there were employees of lighthouses and the Iokanga Weather Station, workers who needed to put lighthouses in order along the coast of East Murmansk, install hydrographic signs, unload fuel and food. On the night of July 24, 1941, in the area of the island Kuvshin, the “Meridian”  got into a thick fog, and at 01:30 received an emergency report that four German destroyers were located 19 miles from Cape Svyatoy Nos. The hydrographic vessel was ordered to return to the island of Kharlov.

Near the island Bolshoy Litsky, the fog began to dissipate, the hulls of enemy ships appeared. Instantly assessing the situation, the commander of the “Meridian” decided to hide behind the islands, pass between them or beach the vessel. However, the ship did not have time to do this. The fascists noticed the hydrographers and opened fire from the Z7 Hermann Schoemann destroyer. The first shell hit the wheelhouse and disabled the steering. The commander of the “Meridian” was wounded, the military commissar of the ship, Senior Political Officer Gutin, was killed. Having received several holes, the ship began to list to starboard and sank at 3 hours 17 minutes. 46 people were killed, 17 crew members managed to escape – they reached the island on hastily constructed rafts, where they were picked up by the residents of the village of Vostochnaya Litsa after the departure of the German ships.

During the complex expedition, the bottom relief was surveyed using the areal survey method in an area of more than 2.3 thousand km2, an instrumental assessment of the bottom relief with a volume of at least 18.5 thousand km was carried out. The materials obtained in the interests of studying the World Ocean will be transferred to replenish oceanographic data banks.