The Baltic Sea is a treasure chamber of shipwrecks

The Pallada

From Helsingin Sanomat

Experts excited at find of the torpedoed Russian World War I armoured cruiser Pallada.

Finland’s National Board of Antiquities considers the find by a Finnish diving group of the Russian World War I armoured cruiser Pallada in the Gulf of Finland to be of real significance.

“For example its war grave status makes it an important discovery. Furthermore, warships are unique sources of information”, says National Board of Antiquities marine archaeologist Minna Leino.

The Pallada sank with all hands in the autumn of 1914. It was the pride of the Russian Baltic Sea Fleet.

It was almost brand new and its crew were a top class outfit, chosen for the purpose.

When the ship went down, she took with her around 600 officers and men, for whom the Gulf of Finland became their watery grave.

Now the Pallada lies outside of the Finnish coastal town of Hanko in two pieces at a depth of 60 metres.

The divers, who found the wreck already in the summer of 2000, spent 12 years examining it before going public with the find and telling Helsingin Sanomat about it this past summer.

For a diver, finding a wreck almost the size of the car and passenger ferry Estonia, which famously went down in Finnish territorial waters in 1994 killing more than 800 passengers and crew, is an immense experience.

“The Pallada is the largest warship wreck in the Gulf of Finland. It was the Russian fleet’s greatest loss in the Baltic Sea in the First World War”, explains Jouni Polkko, one of the first men to dive to the wreck.

“The sinking of the Pallada was an important turning point in the history of naval warfare. It marked the end of the era of armoured cruisers and the beginning of the era of submarines.”

The Pallada was taken out by a single torpedo fired from a German submersible. The ship was hit in the magazine, exploded, and broke in two, disappearing under in a matter of minutes.

Wartime censorship rules meant that little was written of her fate at the time, and over the decades she has become a legendary object of attention for divers and naval historians, but otherwise forgotten, in spite of the horrific loss of life.

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