Monday, October 15, 2007

WWII Submarine, Helsinki, Finland



Vesikko was a submarine of the Finnish Navy in World War II. It was designed by Dutch Ingenieurskantoor voor Scheepsbouw den Haag (I.v.S) and built in 1933 by the Crichton-Vulcan shipyard in Turku, Finland. It served as a direct prototype (named as CV-707) for German Type IIA U-boats. Between the years 1933 and 1934 the German Navy carried out trials with the submarine in the Turku Archipelago. In 1936, the Finnish Navy bought it and named it as Vesikko.

Vesikko was one of five submarines to serve the Finnish Navy. The other four were the three larger Vetehinen class boats Vetehinen, Vesihiisi, Iku-Turso (named after Finnish mythology characters, see Kalevala) and the small Saukko (Finnish for otter). The word "vesikko" is the Finnish name for the European mink, a small predator now near extinction (already extinct within Finland).

Vesikko saw service during World War II. Like other submarines of the Finnish Navy, she patrolled the Gulf of Finland during the Winter War against the Soviet Baltic Fleet. On December 1 and 19 December 1939, Vesikko made attempts to attack the Soviet heavy cruiser Kirov and battleship Marat, both of which which had been damaged by Finnish coastal batteriers.

During the Continuation War, Vesikko continued her patrolling career but there were few targets of opportunity due to extensive minefields laid by Finnish and Germans forces on the eastern half of Gulf of Finland, which essentially blockaded the Soviet ships in their ports. Nontheless, in 3 July 1941, Vesikko managed to torpedo one Soviet merchant ship named Vyborg of 3,500 tons.

After the war Vesikko was decommissioned because of the obligations of the Paris Peace Treaties that forbade Finland having submarines. Vesikko was lying as a wreck for years. It was eventually put up for sale for anyone willing to buy it. Fortunately former crew members of the submarine managed to rescue and restore it. The submarine currently lies on the island of Suomenlinna and has served as a museum during the summers since 1973. (Wikipedia)



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