Menu Close
l o a d i n g

Shch-408

408-c

Technical data
  • Soviet WWII-era Shchuka-class diesel-electric X-bis series submarine (“shchuka” is Russian for “pike”)
  • Length: 57 meters
  • Armament: 2 x 45mm guns, 6 x torpedo tubes (4 x bow, 2 x stern), 10 x torpedoes
  • Crew: 41 men
  • Lost after an artillery battle against overwhelming enemy forces near Vaindloo Island
  • Depth: 72 meters
  • Found, explored and identified in a joint search expedition by our team and the Finnish SubZone team in 2016.
Description

408-1

The Shch-class X-bis series submarine was lost in May 1943 in the Gulf of Finland after a brief but intense artillery battle against German high-speed barges.

408-1

From the time the sub was lost until May 2016, the details of this event remained unknown: the reason why the ship sank was unclear, as well as why it was not at the coordinates where Finnish ships reported that it sank.

Submarine history

408-1

The story of Shch-408 is one of the most tragic tales of the Baltic submarine fleet.

In 1943, the Germans finished installing their anti-submarine barriers in the Gulf of Finland. Multiple minefields and an anti-submarine net with a 1-meter mesh diameter blocking the full width of the Gulf of Finland made it nearly impossible for Soviet submarines to reach the open Baltic Sea. Nonetheless, the ability to fight in the open Baltic Sea and interrupt Germany’s iron ore supplies were strategically important for victory, and the Baltic Fleet command decided to send a force of five ships to attempt to break the defensive lines.

408-1

Shch-303 went first but her commander decided to turn around after meeting strong enemy resistance and finding it impossible to reach the open sea. He was unable to contact command due to the heavy German anti-submarine activity, so the Baltic Fleet headquarters considered the submarine lost.

The second submarine sent to cross the Gulf of Finland was Shch-408, commanded by Pavel Kuzmin. Kuzmin successfully crossed the first line of anti-submarine barriers, but oil and fuel leaks from Shch-408 caused the sub to be discovered by a Finnish reconnaissance plane, not to mention that near Vaindloo Island, Shch-408 practically crossed paths with Shch-303, which was on its way back to base with enemy ASW forces hot on its tail.

408-1

Three of the German high-speed barges (HSBs) that had been following Shch-303 turned to follow Shch-408 instead.

The sub ran out of battery power and air reserves. On 22 May 1943 at 2:50 AM, Shch-408 surfaced within sight of the German HSBs and engaged them in an artillery battle. Based on German reports, the sub was hit in the bow and near the stern gun. After the hit and explosion, the gun crew fell and sailors who came topside to replace them continued to fight, hitting the HSBs several times. Commander Kuzmin took advantage of surfacing to transmit a radiogram to base: “Attacked by ASW forces, have taken damage. Enemy makes it impossible to recharge. Request aviation support. My location: Vaindloo.” After a brief but fierce ten-minute battle, the submarine once again submerged: according to German reports, it went down stern first.

Soviet aviation was unable to reach the sinking submarine.

408-1

The German HSBs were soon replaced by two Finnish ASW ships: the Rienlahti and Ruotsinsalmi, which dropped a large number of depth charges near the area where the submarine had submerged, after which, at 4:50 AM, they noticed the appearance of a large air bubble and debris. Several more days of sonar observation of the area confirmed that Shch-408 sank together with its entire crew.

A photojournalist was on board one of the Finnish ships and photographed everything that was happening. The photos presented here are real and are related to the sinking of Shch-408.

Seafloor conditions: the submarine lies at a depth of 72 meters on an almost even keel, nose-heavy with the stern significantly higher than the bow. The soil is clay, and the sub is almost up to the waterline in silt. Both of the sub’s guns are combat-ready: plugs removed, optical sights installed, aimed to the port side where the German HSBs were located. Open shell boxes lie nearby. The commander’s periscope is raised, turned to the left (probably from Kuzmin viewing the horizon before surfacing). The bridge and emergency hatches are closed, and a PPSh machine gun is mounted in the sail housing. The submarine has some visible damage: 45mm shell impacts can be seen on the sail, the sail fin is dented and damaged, and there are holes from 75mm or 100mm shells near the place where the PPSh machine gun is mounted and where Commander Kuzmin should have been posted during battle. Depth charge damage is also visible: the rails are bent and the sail housing door is torn off.

408-1

Based on what we found on the seafloor, we can draw several conclusions:

  • Submarine Commander Pavel Sergeevich Kuzmin was likely killed during the night battle: the 75mm shell hole near where Kuzmin was likely to have been and the PPSh left behind (which most likely belonged to him) suggest that this was the case.
  • The damage that the submarine took during the night battle did not sink it, nor did the depth charges. Based on the ship’s position, the crew tried to surface: the stern ballast tanks were blown (the stern is raised, even though the sub submerged stern first), but the bow ballast tanks were likely damaged in the battle, and there was not enough buoyancy and compressed air reserves to lift the boat to the surface.
  • The bubbles that the Finns saw were more likely the result of attempts to blow the bow ballast tanks and surface – the sub’s crew had made the conscious decision not to abandon the sinking ship (the hatches were closed).

408-1

Later, after the expedition had ended, we discovered another sensitive detail while talking with our colleagues from the Shch-408 museum. A year before his first (and final) campaign, Pavel Kuzmin went home on leave. Nine months later, his son was born and, before leaving for the campaign, he wrote to his wife asking her to send a photo of their son. The return letter arrived at the submarine base on 22 May 1943, the same day that Pavel Kuzmin engaged in his first and final battle. His fellow sailors sent the undelivered letter back to his family and it is now kept at the Shch-408 museum in St. Petersburg.

408-1

The tragic loss of Shch-408 had a serious impact on the Baltic Fleet submariners. The command promised them all possible support and assistance in crossing the Gulf of Finland, but in fact they were unable to save Shch-408, which sank practically within sight of the Soviet base.

There were three more unsuccessful attempts to break out of the anti-submarine barriers by other ships in 1943: the S-9 (which we found in 2013), S-12 and Shch-406 (which we found in 2017) were lost.

408-1

These events forced the Baltic Fleet command to cease its attempts to break out of the anti-submarine barriers until 1944.

In April-May, as a result of a joint expedition of the Underwater Expedition Team and the Finnish SubZone team, with the support of Transneft, the Midshipman’s Club, and the Shch-408 museum, the submarine was found and identified, and many of the details surrounding the events of 1943 were clarified. More details are available in our video report, as well as in the articles on our friends’ websites.

3D model of the wreck

History without politics

Underwater Exploration Team

4 months ago

"Малютке" М-32, чудом спасшейся из предыдущего похода, когда экипаж был отравлен парами бензина, продолжало везти.

Learn more
4 months ago

У подводников всего мира главным мерилом результативности является тоннаж потопленных судов противника.

Имя самого результативного по тоннажу русского подводника общеизвестно, это - Александр Маринеско...

Learn more
Our team

Konstantin Bogdanov

Founder, mastermind and main driving force behind the team

Russian Geographical Society’s “Person of the Year” in 2015. Has been diving since the year 1812, prefers Inspiration Vision. CMAS instructor.

Array ( [0] => https://www.facebook.com/bogdanovk )

Mikhail Ivanov

Universal soldier and walking encyclopedia, all in one

Knows everything about any events connected with the Gulf of Finland and military activity around it from any time period. Able to find things in archives and perform the most complex tasks under water. Holds the honorary title "High Efficiency". Special interest: submarines.

Array ( [0] => https://www.facebook.com/mikhail.ivanov.3152 )

Ivan Borovikov

Diver, underwater photographer and videographer

The team’s chief beard, GUE-fanatic and part-time expeditionary medic. Dives with JJ-CCR in GUE modifications.

Array ( [0] => https://www.facebook.com/ibgonfins )

Alexei Ivanov

Irreplaceable gasblender and tech guru

Military composure and liver training. IANTD instructor, diving since 2005, prefers CCR Inspiration.

Array ( [0] => https://www.facebook.com/gazonrus )

Иннокентий Ольховой

Дайвер, подводный оператор, священник

В жизни - священник, эконом Даниловского монастыря. В команде с 2017 года. ПредпочитаетJJ-CCR, добросовестно исполняет обязанности корабельного священника, а в редкие минуты отдыха сочиняет песни и поёт их под гитару.

Array ( [0] => https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004743691645 )

Olga Akulova

Irreplaceable team member, photographer and, more recently, land-based expedition operator

Charming lady who cannot be found with fewer than two cameras in her hands 🙂 Doesn’t dive, but strongly sympathizes.

Array ( [0] => https://www.facebook.com/olga.akulova.92 )

Evgeny Abramov

Better known as “John”

Chief dolphin master, old soul, cupbearer and diver with vast experience.

Array ( [0] => )

Sumbat Alexandrov

Laugher in Chief

Professional diver. Cave dweller, handiman and a giant of a man with huge experience.

Array ( [0] => https://www.facebook.com/sumbik )

Evgeny Tutynin

Hydroacoustics expert, eyes and ears of the team

Began diving relatively recently and is now exploring the objects he finds not only on a sonar screen, but also in real life.

Array ( [0] => https://www.facebook.com/etutynin )

Nikolai Kudryashov

Producer

Enthusiastic open-cycle diver. Always ready in difficult times to offer support, help, stage bottles or snacks.

Array ( [0] => https://www.facebook.com/nick.kudryashov.1 )

Nikolai Fetisov

Diving since 2005

Prefers JJ-CCR, main diving interests are caves and wrecks. Has been participating in the team’s projects since 2013. Always ready not only to dive, but also to help support the technical side of a dive.

Array ( [0] => https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001920221798 )

Murat Kurbanov

Photoshop god

Doesn’t dive. Takes care of all the difficult jobs involving images (such as the “Lefort” mosaic), master of imagery, design guru, helps support dives.

Array ( [0] => https://www.facebook.com/muriq4ever )

Подводная лодка Щ-302

Щ-302, одна из трех самых первых "Щук", пропала без вести осенью 1942 года. Остов лодки обнаружен только в 2019 году на глубине 67 метров. Прекрасно сохранилась рубка - характерной для первых "щук" формы.

Подводная лодка Щ-308

Подводная лодка Щ-308 участовала в двух походах во время Великой Отечественной войны и пропала без вести осенью 1942 года в Финском заливе

Подводная лодка Щ-405

Подводная лодка Щ-405 - одна из, наверное, самых невезучих Балтийских "Щук". На лодке сменилось три командира, все - погибли. В свой единственный боевой патруль Щ-405 так и не дошла, подорвавшись во время ночного перехода на немецкой мине еще в советских водах.

Эсминец “Прямислав” (“Калинин”)

Эсминец "Калинин" (до 1925 г. "Прямислав"), типа "Изяслав" погиб 28 августа 1941 года во время Таллинского перехода. Обнаружен и идентифицирован нашей командой в августе 2018 года.

Эсминец “Новик” (“Яков Свердлов”)

Легендарный эсминец, герой романа Пикуля "Моонзунд", переживший революцию и первую мировую войну, погиб во время Таллинского перехода. Обнаружен и идентифицирован нашей командой в августе 2018 года.

Подводная лодка С-12

Подводная лодка С-12 - одна из пяти, предпринявших попытку прорыва через немецкие минные заграждения в Финском заливе в 1943 году.

Shch-XXX submarine

This WWII-era Soviet Shchuka-class submarine is probably our most unexpected find of 2017, from a historical perspective.

Sch-406 submarine

Sch-406 was one of the most famous WWII-era Soviet Shchuka-class submarines, commanded by Hero of the Soviet Union E.Y. Osipov. She was lost without a trace in the Gulf of Finland in the spring of 1943. Our team found and identified Shch-406 on 2 May 2017.

Shch-320 submarine

Shch-320 was a WWII-era Soviet diesel-electric X series submarine, commanded by Ivan Makarovich Vishnevsky. She was lost without a trace during a combat patrol mission in the Gulf of Finland in October 1942. Our team found and identified Shch-320 on 1 May 2017.

Shch-408 “Baltic Varyag”

Probably one of the most tragic tales of the Baltic submarine fleet. Shch-408 "Baltic Varyag" was forced to engage in an artillery battle with three German ships and submerged without lowering its flag.

Shch-324 submarine

This legendary Shchuka-class submarine – a veteran of the Finnish war – embarked on a unique 30-mile passage under the frozen Gulf of Finland with no navigational references, and was later sunk during its first WWII combat patrol.

M-95 submarine

The Malyutkas were one of the most numerous classes of WWII-era Soviet submarines. The M-95's crew fought to save their sub for two days and only attempted to abandon ship after exhausting every opportunity for survival...

Vaindloo freighter

One of the many victims of the so-called "Russian Dunkirk" – the Soviet evacuation of Tallinn. A huge number of ships in several waves broke through the minefields, aviation attacks and artillery fire at Kronstadt. Many of them did not make it, leaving the route from Tallinn to Kronstadt strewn with sunken ships, many of which have yet to be found.

XIX-century tall ships

The Gulf of Finland is the cradle of northern civilizations. Trade and sea traffic have existed there from time immemorial. The old trade routes are strewn with a huge number of sunken tall ships of all eras, nationalities and sizes. Most of them are in excellent condition: they are hard to access, but the cold waters of the Gulf of Finland keep the wood perfectly preserved. Artifacts can be found on almost every wreck: dishes, bells, personal belongings of crewmembers, anchors, helms, and remains of cargo. Among ourselves, we call these ships "Scanias" because they served as the long-haul trucks of their time.

MKT T-387 minesweeper

This Soviet naval minesweeper, which sank in 1944 after being hit by a torpedo from a German U-boat, was quite a puzzler. The extensive damage made it rather difficult for us to identify it and uncover its history.

Pallada armored cruiser

This giant armored cruiser with a crew of 550 tragically sank within minutes of a submarine attack, marking Russia's entry into WWI in the Baltic region.

Akula submarine

The legendary Akula submarine – the forbearer of the Russian submarine fleet – was lost without a trace more than 100 years ago, but has now been found.

T-18 torpedoboot

The German T-18 torpedoboot sank as a result of a skip-bombing attack by Soviet bombers near the Finnish port of Hanko. The ship's hull is broken into two parts that stand on the seafloor almost vertically, in a V shape. This was the only successful skip-bombing attack conducted by the Soviet Air Force in the Baltic theater. Our team found and identified the ship on 16 June 2014.

Vzryv and Provodnik minesweepers

WWI showed all of the world's governments that the rules of war at sea had completely changed. Mines, torpedoes, submarines, steamships and long-range artillery forced all naval powers to reconsider their shipbuilding plans. The need for a special class of ships appeared: minesweepers. This is the story of the Russian Imperial Fleet's very first minesweepers.

S-9 submarine

This S-class Soviet submarine was one of five that tried to break out of the Gulf of Finland in 1943. The sub's history is full of strange and surprising facts: she sank twice, was shelled and torpedoed, but remained in service until the very end.

Lefort – Russian wooden battleship

The last real wooden battleship of the Russian Imperial Fleet. This giant was considered unsinkable but went down in minutes, taking over 800 souls with her. This was the largest peacetime sea tragedy before the sinking of the Titanic and Estonia ferry. The event inspired Ivan Aivazovsky to create one of his best-known paintings, the Sinking of the Lefort. The nearly forgotten ship was found 150 years after the tragedy.

Soviet P-1 “Pravda” submarine

The Pravda submarine's developers envisioned a huge submarine, the size of a destroyer, surfacing among enemy ships and taking part in an artillery battle. We will tell the story of the sole attempt to send a P-class submarine on a combat patrol.


Contacts

Connect with us

We always welcome ideas for cooperation.
Support with organizing expeditions is especially important, either financial or otherwise: organizational, media and information.

We’ll be glad to share our unique shots from the wrecks with you, spotlight your company in news stories devoted to our expeditions, and much more.