Posted 21 октября 2021, 09:19

Published 21 октября 2021, 09:19

Modified 24 декабря 2022, 22:37

Updated 24 декабря 2022, 22:37

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The last battle of "Shch-317": having shipwrecked four watercrafts, the submarine was blown up by a mine

21 октября 2021, 09:19
The best torpedo sniper of the Soviet submarine fleet in the Baltic during World War II was considered the commander of the submarine Shch-317, Lieutenant Commander Nikolay Mokhov. Only today the details of the sinking of his "Shchuka", which sank off the coast of Sweden on July 15, 1942, were revealed.

Gennady Charodeyev

During the war years, Soviet submarines of different fleets sank at least 45 large-tonnage enemy combat and transport ships, damaged at least 10 more. "Shchukas" sent to the bottom more than a third of all enemy ships that were hit by submarines at sea. 44 submarines took an active part in hostilities. Of these, 31 submarines were killed. Most of them are in minefields in the Gulf of Finland.

And yet, the submarines of the "Shch" series are often still criticized for their allegedly low combat effectiveness and weak protection. Indeed, according to the confession of the captain of the first rank of the reserve Vladimir Ostroumov, they had to fight in difficult conditions. On Soviet submarines during World War II, radar equipment was most often absent. In addition, the "Shchuka" were considered very noisy submarines. This circumstance very often led to the fact that Soviet submarines were unmasked.

For all that, our submarines were easy to operate and repair, quite reliable, and most importantly, very maneuverable and tenacious. All this made it possible to largely level the shortcomings of domestic technology.

The autonomy of the "Shchuka" was 20 days. Ammunition - 10 torpedoes. In those days, this was more than enough to carry out the combat missions facing medium-sized submarines. The commander of Sch-317, Lieutenant Commander Nikolai Mokhov, did not doubt this at all and won.

Shipwrecked four watercrafts

The purpose of the submarine campaign of the Soviet Baltic Fleet in 1942 was to disrupt enemy sea traffic. The transports in the Baltic solved the problems of supplying the German army group "North", as well as providing supplies of Finnish and Swedish resources to Germany. All these ships, as well as Hitler's warships, Moscow ordered to sink.

In May 1942, the enemy set up impassable minefields in the Gulf of Finland, hoping that when faced with them, Soviet submarines would suffer huge losses, and the command of the fleet would stop trying to break through into the Baltic Sea.

German minefield SeeigelGerman minefield Seeigel
German minefield Seeigel

But Mokhov's "shchukmen" were the first to disrupt the plans of the Germans. June 11, 1942 "three hundred and seventeenth" left the Lavensari base. In three days, the submarine did what was considered impossible until then - it forced all the mine lines of the Gulf of Finland and reported to the headquarters by radio communication about entering the open Baltic.

The newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda wrote about the conditions under which our "Shchuka" had to act: “It was a surprisingly daring and unusually difficult operation. And in the first pair of the first echelon went "Shch-304" and "Shch-317". They had to go through the Gulf of Finland. Pass, although the enemy has already blocked it with a dense minefield and set up patrols in the sky and on the water. Ten thousand mines lay in wait for submarines daring to cross the strait. And in order not to pass, one was enough".

Finding himself in the operational space, Mokhov showed himself to be an aggressive and skillful commander: on the same day, June 16, "Shch-317" opened its combat account in this campaign, sinking the Argo transport with a cargo of mineral fertilizers for Finland. Two days later the Danish transport Orion was torpedoed, but managed to reach the port of Visby on the island of Gotland.

In the afternoon of June 22, Sch-317 sank the Swedish ship "Ada Gorton" off the eastern coast of the island of Öland with the first torpedo, which was sailing to Germany with a cargo of iron ore. Sweden, by the way, officially observing neutrality, in fact actively helped the fascist Reich with strategic raw materials.

"The enemy's command", noted the historian Miroslav Morozov, "was forced to introduce a system of convoys throughout the Baltic Sea, when ships would go under the protection of warships, which the Germans lacked".

Three days later, a torpedo attack was carried out on an unidentified ship, and on July 1, "Shch-317" torpedoed the Swedish transport Galleon to no avail, but was driven away by the destroyer Ehrensheld.

On July 4, Sch-317 missed again, attacking the Swedish ship Fortuna.

On 6 July, the German Nordenskjold hit the "Shchuka" with all its guns. In a Soviet submarine, glass flew out in the cockpit fence, and fuel tanks leaked. But the crew did not flinch. Four days later, Sch-317 sank the German transport Otto Cords with an aimed shot.

It has been established: the submarine commander Mokhov conducted four more torpedo attacks - unsuccessful ...

On July 10, the last radio report from Mokhov was received: "The stock of torpedoes is completely used up, we are returning to Kronstadt." But the boat did not return to the base ...

What did the divers see?

For several decades, the circumstances of the death of "Shch-317" and its crew remained unknown. There have been versions of an attack from surface ships, coastal artillery or enemy aircraft. Two minefields on the way to the base came under suspicion.

Everything became clear only a few years ago, when the members of the expedition "Bow to the ships of the Great Victory" discovered at the bottom of the Gulf of Finland between the islands of Gogland and Bolshoy Tyuters the remains of the sunken submarine "Shch-317". On the eve of the Victory Day, a plaque was fixed on board the "Shchuka" in memory of the 41 lost sailor. There was a memorial service for the dead Red Navy men. As the search engines from the "Reconnaissance and Diving Team" told, the skeleton of the boat itself was found at a depth of 78 meters. Probably, Sch-317 was able to get away from all attacks, but only in order to blow up on one of the last lines of German minefields on the way home - literally in line of sight from the home base of Lavensari Island.

The divers were stunned: the submarine seemed to fall asleep at the bottom, with its nose buried in the mud. The first inspection found no visible damage. But upon careful examination, the diving team saw that the cockpit windows were broken, all antenna posts and handrails were bent. This means that the boat has undergone a powerful hydrodynamic impact from above.

Based on the collected data, the experts came to the conclusion: "Shch-317" was moving at a low speed at a depth of 25 meters. Having overcome almost all anti-submarine lines, on the last line of the Seeigel obstacle, the boat touched the side of the mine - the cable of the EMC anchor sea mine, to which the antenna was attached.

"Seeigel" is a few thousand anchor mines alone, standing somewhere in the 8-9, and sometimes in the 11-12 lines.

Military historian Mikhail Ivanov explained: “Imagine a 30-meter copper wire that hangs along the minerail. When the copper antenna touched the iron side of the boat, an electric current arose, which triggered the mine detonation mechanism. One EMC is 250 kg of explosives. A single explosion was enough for the hydrodynamic shock, having covered the boat, and put it out of action. "

The researchers determined: the explosion that occurred over the boat practically did not damage the "Shch-317" hull, but water poured through the cracks formed in the structures. The boat began to descend smoothly, probably became uncontrollable. Almost all crew members were injured and concussed. All died...

Commander of the happy "Shchuka"

For almost eight decades, researchers have learned not only the facts of the combat biography of "Shch-317", but also important stages in the life of its commander.

It turned out, for example, that he, a student of the marine technical school, in 1932 by party mobilization was sent from Vladivostok to Leningrad to the Frunze Naval School. Mokhov conscientiously studied there as well. The characteristics invariably read: "Disciplined, but not exacting enough to his subordinates."

While Mokhov was the foreman of the cadets' unit, while he commanded an M-type submarine with a crew of 15 people, he was demanding. When a division of eight "Little Babies" was under his command, it was no longer enough. In the anonymous letters addressed to the authorities, it was reported that Lieutenant-Commander Mokhov allows himself "familiarity with his subordinates." During off-duty times, the battalion commander relaxes in the company of junior ranks so much that even once he “danced Abrek-Zaur”, putting on a turban from a sheet and taking a knife in his teeth, ”they wrote in denunciations.

The bosses' patience came to an end. On January 16, 1942, “abrek” Mokhov was dismissed from his post “for immorality” and was appointed with a demotion - the commander of the boat "Shch-317". "Another such act," the NKVD warned him, "and you will be demoted to the rank and file".

But Nikolai was not taken aback. He always believed in his star and therefore did not take offense at his superiors. Mokhov organized an urgent repair of the submarine. And he carefully prepared the crew for solving combat missions of particular complexity.

Николай Мохов на боевом постуНиколай Мохов на боевом посту
Николай Мохов на боевом посту

During its first and last sortie, 4 out of 10 torpedo attacks were successful at the "three hundred and seventeenth". The best result was shown only by two of 135 Soviet submarine commanders who fired torpedoes. Baltic captain-lieutenant Nikolay Petrov ("Shch-307") and Chernomorets 3rd rank captain Vladimir Vlasov ("Shch-214") - 2 torpedoes per one reliably hit target. But they sank only one target, and Mokhov - four! It should be borne in mind that it was the commander who prepared the data for firing torpedoes. For this he was nicknamed "sniper".

And one more very important point, which for some reason is forgotten. The search expedition found "Shchuka" on course 80 - leading to its home base, to the island of Lavensari. It turns out, returning, the submarine Mokhova again overcame the minefields "Nashorn" and almost slipped through the disastrous "Seeigel". But on the last, thirteenth barrier line, Sch-317 touched the antenna with one of the mines and forever lay on the bottom of the Gulf of Finland.

The writer Nikolay Cherkashin in his book "Black Squadron" quotes an excerpt from Nikolai Mokhov's last letter to his wife: “If I die, let my sons continue my work. I want them to become sailors and serve on submarines".

Sons Igor and Boris fulfilled their father's order: they became sailors, submarine commanders. So, Igor Mokhov happened in the mid-1970s. to lead the 17-month underwater cruise of the B-4 submarine, unprecedented in the Soviet fleet. He died of an unexpected heart attack on Victory Day in 1985 in front of the formation of the crews of the diesel submarine squadron he commanded, in full dress with a dagger.

Work on the project “Immortal Division. The Last Campaign ”begins in 2013: it was then that the reconnaissance and diving team found the first of 10 submarines that disappeared during the Second World War, which are discussed in the videos of this cycle on our channel.

Based on the study of the damage to the hulls of submarines, as well as the position of the horizontal and vertical rudders, the machine telegraph, the repeater and many other details, RVK was able to historically accurately recreate the moment when the boats were blown up and how the crews fought for survivability. This is a realistic 3d reconstruction of what happened in the Gulf of Finland 70 years ago.

* The name of the submarine Shchuka in English means "luce" or "common pike".