Divers Discover WWI Era Russian Tsarist Submarine

Wreckage on the bottom of the Baltic Sea has been identified by divers as one of Russia’s earliest submarines.

The Akula (Russian for Shark) vanished during the First World War. Dispatched on a mission in 1915 with 35 sailors aboard, the submarine never returned to port, The Telegraph notes. One of the biggest ships in Russia’s pre-revolutionary fleet, the Akula is thought to be the first submarine in naval history that was capable of firing multiple torpedoes at an enemy.

Estonian divers happened upon the submarine while exploring a series of unidentified wrecks last month. Upon discovering that the submarine had a distinctive trio of propellers, as well as a nose cone that was ripped away by an explosion, Russian and Latvian divers mounted an expedition to the wreck with the Estonian team.

According to The Moscow Times, divers were unable to enter the submarine due to its diminutive size. When the vessel was launched, Russian sailors had to be shorter than a height of 160 centimeters in order to take a commission aboard the Akula.

The bow of the Akula was torn away, and it lay on the bottom of the Baltic Sea
Estonian divers discovered the Akula at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, its bow torn away

Following the submarine’s discovery by Tanel Urm of Technical Diving Estonia, the expedition was able to confirm that the wreckage did indeed belong to the lost Russian vessel. Diver Konstantin Bogdanov told The Telegraph that the condition of the wreckage, as well as the three propellers, led the team to believe it could be the Akula, though he admitted that the team could not be sure about the submarine until they made another dive.

“Part of the outer shell of the craft at the stern was still intact and suddenly we could see, through the shells stuck to the hull, the word ‘Akula’ in white lettering,” Bogdanov related.

The lost submarine, commissioned over a hundred years ago in 1911, had been found, 99 years after it disappeared.

Several factors point to the conclusion that the submarine was sunk by a German mine while traveling on the surface. The bow of the vessel was ripped away, as if by an explosion, and a compass on the conning tower was not stowed before the ship sank. The Russian vessel had only a single compartment running its full length, and would have foundered quickly due to that fact. Modern submarines, such as the new Russian ship that The Inquisitr reported on last month, are divided into separate compartments that can be sealed in times of emergency to prevent the vessel from flooding.

Bogdanov says that he has informed the Russian defense ministry about the aquatic discovery, and hopes that the wreck will be declared a “brother’s grave,”making it the final resting place of the Russian sailors who perished aboard the submarine in 1915.

[Images via The Telegraph]