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Expedition Nets Remains of 6 Ships, Fighter Plane

The SS Meyersledge
The SS Meyersledge Source: Photo:

In the course of a joint Estonian-Swedish expedition this summer, maritime archeologists located the previously-unmapped remains of six ships in the West Estonian Archipelago and the Gulf of Riga.

Although already known to local fishermen and divers, by far the largest underwater object previously unmapped was the wreck of the German cargo steamer SS Meyersledge 15 meters below the surface near the island of Kihnu. According to unconfirmed records, the 63-meter long steamer was sunk by the Soviet Air Force three miles off the coast of Kihnu on September 24, 1944.

"In the Suur Katel Bay [off the Saaremaa coast], we discovered remains of two ships that we are currently working to identify, and an Il-2 plane," Maili Roio, advisor at the Heritage Board and head of the underwater expedition, told Meie Maa. The Il-2 was a Soviet ground-attack fighter used during World War II. Unfortunately, underwater visibility was extremely low at the time of the expedition, Roio said, therefore the archeologists could only retrieve sonar data rather than optical images.

It can now be said with a degree of certainty that the remains of a submarine, located 2.5 miles off the island of Ruhnu at depth of 37 meters, belong to a Soviet C-310 submarine which, according to one version, was sunk by the Soviets during target practice in the 1950s, Roio said.

The archeologists also discovered remains of two sailing ships in the Gulf of Riga that require additional research in order to be identified.

The mapping expedition was part of an Estonian-Swedish joint project to create an online database of underwater cultural heritage in the Baltic Sea.


Erkki Sivonen

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