Divers Discover Vanished WWI-Era Russian 'Shark' Submarine

Estonian divers working in the Baltic Sea have identified a wreck as being the legendary Tsarist-era Russian submarine known as The Shark, which disappeared without a trace during the First World War.

Commissioned in 1911, the 400-ton vessel, called Akula (Russian for shark), was the biggest in the pre-Revolutionary Imperial Russian Navy. Able to cruise long distances, it was the first submarine capable of firing a volley of several torpedoes. The sub made 16 patrols in the Baltic Fleet, including an unsuccessful attack on the German battleship SMS Beowulf. In 1915, it went on a mission with 35 sailors on board — but it was never heard from again.

Divers Discover Vanished WWI-Era Russian 'Shark' Submarine

Image via Telegraph.

But as Tom Parfitt from The Telegraph reports, The Shark's wreckage has been found some 90 feet beneath the surface of the Baltic Sea:

Russian and Latvian divers [joined a] fresh expedition with the Estonian team after hearing the sub had a blown-off nose cone and three distinctive propellers.

"That made us think it could be the famous Akula [Shark], but we weren't sure until we made the dive," said diver Konstantin Bogdanov, in a telephone interview. "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."

The smashed nose of The Shark, and the fact that an external compass on the conning tower was not stowed, suggest the submarine was destroyed on the surface when it hit a German mine. It would have sunk swiftly because it had only one compartment stretching the length of the sub. The divers could not swim inside the wreck because of the damage.

There's no sense in trying to raise the sub, so the team is hoping to see it declared a memorial site.

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More at The Telegraph.

Top image: The Akula in 1912, Wikimedia Commons.