Posted 18 ноября 2021,, 08:20

Published 18 ноября 2021,, 08:20

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

They Fought For The Homeland: the members of the S-9 submarine crew knew that they were going to certain death

They Fought For The Homeland: the members of the S-9 submarine crew knew that they were going to certain death

18 ноября 2021, 08:20
Diesel-electric torpedo submarine S-9, having failed for objective reasons, the task of the command of the Baltic Fleet, had to return to Kronstadt. To do this, it was required to overcome the lines of mine and network obstacles established by the Nazis. On August 13, 1943, the Esca and her crew went missing.

Gennady Charodeyev

The sudden German attack on the USSR and the beginning of the blockade of Leningrad forced the Baltic Fleet to relocate to the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland. But even from there, attacks by Soviet submarine cruisers on communications caused the Nazis great concern, sometimes causing interruptions in the supply of food, fuel and ammunition to the divisions near Leningrad.

Hitler ordered to "lock" the Gulf of Finland

The echo of the explosions in the Baltic reached Berlin. At the end of 1941, Hitler made a decision: to create such an anti-submarine line that would completely block the Soviet fleet's access to the Baltic Sea.

In the "mouth" of the Gulf of Finland, the system of obstacles "Seeigel", "Rukayarvi", "Nashorn" - more than 12,000 mines, which were in the water at a distance of about 20 meters from each other, were urgently installed.

Even in this situation, the fairways of the Baltic have hardly become calmer for the Germans and Finns. Despite the mortal risk, the Soviet "Pike" and "Eski" by some miracle constantly broke into the open sea. According to archival data, in 1942 our submariners managed to sink more than fifty enemy transports loaded with coal, gasoline and boxes of food.

When Soviet boats surfaced to recharge their batteries, they were immediately subjected to shelling from the shore, raids by enemy aircraft or attacks by anti-submarine ships.

“Every Russian submarine that breaks through the Baltic Sea poses a threat to shipping and endangers transport ships, which are no longer sufficient to transport military cargo and strategic raw materials”, - worried German officers wrote in their reports to Berlin.

In the spring of 1943, the Nazis began to erect continuous network barriers. These nets were very strong, as they were made of a steel cable with a diameter of 18 mm. They were attached to the bottom of the bay with heavy anchors, and afloat, in an upright position, they were kept on numerous floats. The deepening of the nets from the surface of the water reached 40-70 meters, practically covering the entire range of the possible depth of the submarines in this area. Bottom mines were placed where the depth allowed Soviet submarines to slip under the net.

The Nazis also used the so-called "signal networks", which were no less dangerous. They were installed on approaches to ports and on fairways. From the impact on the network, special buoys were automatically ignited, emitting thick smoke. Anti-submarine ships immediately rushed to this signal, and the hunt for submarines began.

Break through no matter what

In the end, the Germans managed to "lock" the Gulf of Finland for Soviet submarines, which, of course, could not achieve results in such conditions. In the spring of 1943, attacks by our boats on communications in the Baltic Sea practically ceased - until the fall of 1944.

However, the command of the Baltic Fleet, apparently afraid to anger Stalin, stubbornly searched for options for breaking through the boats.

“Our strategists tried to try different ways to break into the open Baltic. One of them was the bombing of a section of the network by aircraft. Submarines were to follow her to the network fence. Their task is to find damage from dropped air bombs in the network, and "slip" into the resulting hole. The second submarine was supposed to get as close to the fence as possible and fire a torpedo at the net to destroy it. The coordinates of the "hole" had to be transferred to the headquarters, only after that - to return to the base", - said the historian Miroslav Morozov.

The second combat mission was given to the S-9, a submarine with a rich history of military campaigns. By 1943, this boat had already participated in three military operations. In these campaigns, the C-9 damaged two German ships, survived air attacks, rammed it by a German steamer, and the submarine sank twice. Its first commander, Sergei Rogachevsky, was tragically killed. Together with the sailors of the upper watch, he was washed away by a storm wave from the bridge of the wheelhouse.

Nevertheless, the "Esca", having passed the hardest tests, thanks to experienced submarine officers, always returned to the base. And with the veteran commander, Captain 3rd Rank Alexander Mylnikov, the C-9 was ready for the fourth time to face mortal danger.

On her last military campaign for reconnaissance of the Nargen-Porkkalaud line, C-9 left the base on the island of Lavensari on July 30, 1943. To break through to the German network, the Esca had to overcome the powerful Seeigel minefield, where Soviet submarines had already perished before. Further one more obstacle - "impassable" according to German ideas, minefield "Nashorn". The Germans considered the probability of blowing up Soviet submarines in this field as one hundred percent. But the S-9 was able to force it and reach the goal.

On August 7-9, the sailors examined the anti-submarine nets of the fascists, and the commander radioed the headquarters about the situation. At this point, the attempt to force the network fence ended in failure. The bombs dropped by the planes could not pierce the solid steel barriers of the Germans. C-9 launched a torpedo towards the nets, but was spotted by the Coast Guard and attacked. The networks were not affected. Mylnikov reported this to the headquarters of the fleet in his last radiogram. The commander received the go-ahead to return.

How to get back home? The boat was to cross the central part of the Gulf of Finland and again pass the Seeigel line, and already in the Narva Bay meet with Soviet patrol boats. However, neither on the 12th, nor on the 13th of August, the S-9 submarine did not arrive at the rendezvous point ...

On September 4, 1943, the dead body of a Red Navy man in diving equipment was discovered on the island of Seskar. It was the sergeant major of the 2nd class Kirill Dikiy, a member of the C-9 crew. The body could only be identified by the Order of the Battle Red Banner on the submariner's uniform.

For a long time it was believed that the C-9 died at the Nashorn minefield near the Negrund-Namsi bank or as a result of an attack by the Finnish escort ship Visko northeast of Keri Island, until today the participants of the IX International Submarine search expedition "Bow to the ships of the Great Victory". And they found her.

Blown up on a bottom mine

The destroyed boat, lying at the bottom of the Gulf of Finland near the island of Bolshoi Tyuters, was not immediately discovered. First, the search engines worked in the Russian and German military archives, then they restored the last C-9 route and followed it. When the esca found at the bottom of the Baltic Sea was finally identified by specialists, the divers of the Russian Reconnaissance and Diving Team and the Finnish Divers of the Dark got down to business.

Here is what the historian and diver, member of the search team Mikhail Ivanov said: “We found the C-9 at a depth of 45 meters, the boat was lying on sandy ground. There was a bronze letter "C" with the number "9" on the wheelhouse. When inspecting the submarine's skeleton, we saw an open bow torpedo tube, which meant that the crew tried to leave the esca through it. The C-9 hull is broken in half; transverse cracks are visible in several places from below. Such damage is typical when a submarine is blown up on a bottom mine.

Inspection of the boat skeleton and archival documents held by the members of the expedition helped to restore the chain of events that took place in August 1943.

This was most likely the case. On August 8, C-9 commander Mylnikov received an order to return to base. On the way back, the Esca successfully crossed the Nashorn minefield again. Further, as follows from German documents, it was discovered by a Finnish patrol ship. They began to pursue the C-9, but the boat managed to break away. And, presumably, on the afternoon of August 13, C-9, in a submerged position, once again began to overcome the Seeigel.

Bottom mines, set by German sappers back in 1942, stood in the way of the Eski. C-9 passed five meters above one of them. But that was enough for the detonator to go off and an explosion thundered. As a result, the boat's hull broke in half. According to the testimony of divers, transverse cracks are visible everywhere. The crippled C-9 went to the bottom ...

According to the historian Miroslav Morozov, despite the monstrous explosion in power, there were still living people inside the boat who did not panic or despair. The crew members knew what they were doing and fought for life to the end.

It is quite possible that several Red Navy men, who remained in the bow of the C-9, managed to get out. But they had no chance to escape. First, deep, and then - more than 30 kilometers to the home base in Lavensari! Getting there by swimming is unrealistic. So the S-9 submarine became a mass grave for a brave crew.

The expedition ended with a memorial service for the dead submariners and an official ceremony of giving military honors to the C-9 crew. Saying goodbye to the "eskoy", Russian and Finnish divers fixed on board the boat a plaque with the names of 46 heroes of the Red Navy.