[Jenisej]Yenisey was a 90 m long Russian mine-layer ship, launched in 1910. On June 4, 1915, she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-26 off the Estonian coast, which at that time was Russian territory. The ship sank quickly in the cold water with 297 men. Only 21 survived. Yenisey also had a sister ship named Amur, a model of which is on display at the Maritime museum in St Petersburg. The submarine U-26 was itself sunk a couple of months later, when it struck a mine.

Russian NavyThe very well preserved wreck is now laying on 47 m depth. The visibility is mostly between 5 and 10 metres. It is totally dark and you need a good lamp. The wreck is laying with a 35-40 degrees list on starboard side, because of its deep V shaped keel.

It is partially covered with old fishing trawls laying on deck or hanging between sticking up parts. In the cabins, floors are covered by a 40 cm layer of silt, that has accumulated during the decades.

The position has always been known by fishermen as a net snag, but was only possible to scuba dive on the site after the fall of the Soviet Union. In 1993, I participated when Estonian and Swedish divers brought up a few objects for the Estonian Maritime Museum. Examples are:

  • A clock (photo 2) where rust stains from the hands still point at 20 past 10. According to the German log, she was sunk at 08:27. But that was German time, and Russian time was 10:27. Thus we can assume that this clock shows the time of the sinking.
  • The binnacle, i.e. compass housing (photo 3).
  • Some machine gun ammo, still intact in its cotton fabric bands, and an entire, slightly rusty Maxim machine gun.
  • The emergency steering wheel console, with rudder indicator from stern deck, unfortunately with broken steering wheel, maybe by fishing trawl or net. 

Altogether, only a few objects were taken up for the Maritime museum. All objects were placed in water buckets or kept wrapped in wet blankets until the return to the conservation department in Tallinn.

Some very nice photos were taken from inside the steering house on the bridge, showing the steering wheel and machine telegraph (photo 4 and 5).

N.B. Diving on this site is forbidden for recreational divers. This document is presented to show the potential of underwater archaeology in the Baltic Sea.

This is an extract from the 1993 Estonian expedition diary.

The archive photo is from the Estonian Maritime Museum, underwater photos by Curt stman and deck photos by myself.

by Per kesson 1996, updated Feb '97

Related links

The Baltic Operations 1914-1916 



ship's clock compass house 
steering wheel on the bridge
machine telegraph

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