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Vzryv and Provodnik

Technical data
  • Class: Minrep
  • Displacement: 150 tonnes
  • Length: 45.1 meters
  • Crew: 2 officers, 29 enlisted
  • Armament: 2 x Shultz sweeps, 1 x Shestrand anchor sweep, 1 x serpentine sweep; 1 x 57 mm gun, 1 x 7.62 mm machine gun, 50 obstacle mines (in overage)
  • Sank in 1914 in the Gulf of Finland
  • Discovered and preliminarily inspected by our team in 2014
  • Depth: 65-70 meters
Ship histories

The Russian-Japanese war of 1904-1905 gave a number of lessons that significantly influenced shipbuilding trends, the commissioning of new classes of warships, as well as the focus of fleet combat training and countermine operations.

One of the lessons learned led to the creation of the world’s first specially designed countermine ships – minesweepers.

In 1907, a commission was created to develop suggestions for using mines in warfare. The commission noted that Russia left much to be desired in this area. Based on the commission’s recommendations, the Naval General Staff decided to build specially designed minesweeper ships for the fleet. Vice Admiral I.K. Grigorovich, a supporter of developing domestic naval shipbuilding capabilities, dispatched an order for the construction of the new minesweepers to the state-owned Izhora Shipyard. It was also charged with the project’s design. The first two minesweepers, named Vzryv and Minrep, were laid down in December 1909.

The world’s first specially designed minesweeper, Vzryv, slipped its berth on 17 March 1911, followed on 6 April by Minrep, which would become the lead ship of the class. Before their trials had ended, on 12 June 1910, the Izhora Shipyard received an order to construct three additional minesweepers based on the Vzryv’s design and specifications: the Zapal, Provodnik and Fugas.

In the early years of WWI, during 1914-1918, minesweeper operations mostly involved piloting ships behind sweeps in the Gulf of Finland and Baltic Sea.

The lessons learned in the first months of combat operations showed that Minrep-class minesweepers handled well, were seaworthy, and easily withstood rolling and pitching. That said, they had a short cruising range and weak engines. This limited their use in fresh weather and remote areas.

The ships’ undoubted advantage was their high survivability, of which the Vzryv minesweeper serves as an excellent example.


Minesweeping operations are associated with constant risk and losses are inevitable. The Minrep-class minesweepers were no exception.

The Provodnik minesweeper had the dubious glory of being the first ship of the Russian Imperial Fleet to sink in WWI. It happened on 27 August 1914 while sweeping the first minefield deployed by the Germans at the mouth of the Gulf of Finland.

Description of the event by I.A. Kireev, staff navigator of the Baltic Fleet’s minesweeping division:

“The Provodnik cleared three mines, one after another. At the same time, the Zapal cleared one mine, after which its sweep ceased to serve as a reliable cover for the Yakor, which was following in its wake. At any rate, this was spurious cover at best, because the swept path ran at an angle to the heading due to the drift, and the left-front line minesweeper was basically sailing without cover. Despite their large draft, the second-line minesweepers safely cut through two lines of mines. The second pair struggled to advance, towing the mines that had been swept. From all sides, the short, sharp whistles that the minesweepers used to report about mines they had swept could be heard. Kitkin, who was on board the Iskra, ordered the Provodnik to approach to cut the mines that had been caught by the first pair; at the same time, he decided to interrupt the minesweeping operation and lead the minesweepers to clear water. On the Iskra, he had the false impression that the mine barrier followed a NW-SO orientation, so instead of turning to the port side, he signaled both lines to turn to the starboard side, not knowing that in doing so they would have to cross the barrier line. While performing this maneuver, at 15:45 the Provodnik in its turn hit a mine on the starboard side, against the stokehold. The explosion damaged the minesweeper severely: the bridge was destroyed, the pipe and mainmast were blown off, and the side had a huge, gaping hole. The loss of life was very high: of the 30 crew members, 11 were killed and 7 were injured. The minesweeper remained afloat for 15 minutes after the explosion: at first she tipped to starboard, then straightened up, sagged in the middle, and broke in two. The Zapal, Minrep, Yakor and Prochny launched dinghies to rescue her crew.”

Тип Минреп

The second of the first run of ships to sink was the first minesweeper of the class that was built: the Vzryv.

I.A. Kireev’s description of the Vzryv’s sinking follows:

“Today (appr. 28.05.1916), while establishing the westernmost line of the Forward Mine Position, a disaster took place on the Vzryv minesweeper. It had already deployed 30 mines, but while launching the 31st mine, a poorly secured protective device hit the explosive cutter along the edge of a slot on the stern skirting and exploded. The explosion detonated the mine. There was a deafening blast and a huge column of flame and black smoke rose up over the minesweeper’s stern. The minesweeper continued along its course, then stopped about a minute and a half later; people who had been thrown overboard from the stern by the explosive gasses were swimming in the water. The Fugas was already far behind, and the flagship minesweeper ignored its instructions. Turning sharply to starboard, the Zapal headed toward the stricken ship; the Minrep did the same, without being ordered to do so. Minesweepers 17, Sheksna, Mologa and 16 stopped their engines. The Fugas, as well as minesweepers 14 and 15, immediately turned around following the explosion and sailed full speed toward the accident. At the time of the explosion, 20 of the 38 crew members were on the stern; they were all killed except for one minelayer, Markin, who was thrown into the air by the explosion and landed in the water far astern the minesweeper. Subsequently, doctors extracted about 150 tiny bits of shrapnel from his body, and he quickly recovered.

The most incredible thing is that he was standing the closest to the explosion. The dinghies rescued four wounded from the water and took 14 survivors off the Vzryv (of whom another two were wounded). Immediately afterward, another mine exploded on the minesweeper’s deck, and the remaining three mines were smoking; one of them had been thrown by the explosion and lay on its side on the engine compartment hatch. Frequent explosions from cartridges stored in the mine cabin could be heard, the stern was on fire, the round-aft was smashed, the ship’s skin was torn off in places and bulkheads were jutting outward. The Minrep unsuccessfully tried to extinguish the fire. Kovalevsky, who had approached on the Fugas, was ordered to tow the Vzryv to the west of the barrier line and use the good firefighting equipment on board minesweeper 15. The wounded were transferred to minesweeper 14 and sent to Hanko. The Fugas towed the burning Vzryv a long time, but minesweeper 15 was unable to extinguish the fire. An hour and a half after the initial explosion, first one and then the other two smoking mines exploded, the bow lifted into the air, and the minesweeper swiftly sank.”


The Provodnik was the first ship of the Russian Imperial Fleet to sink in WWI. The Vzryv sank while establishing the Forward Mine Position, which sealed the entrance to the Gulf of Finland tightly shut in 1916, and it was at this minefield six months later that the Russian Baltic Fleet would enjoy its largest victory – in one night, seven of Germany’s newest destroyers sank after hitting mines in the Forward Mine Position’s trap.

History without politics

Underwater Exploration Team

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.

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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.

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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.

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Alexei Ivanov

Irreplaceable gasblender and tech guru

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

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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.

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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.

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Evgeny Abramov

Better known as “John”

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

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Sumbat Alexandrov

Laugher in Chief

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

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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.

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Nikolai Kudryashov


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

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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.

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Подводная лодка M-96

M-96 - единственная потерянная подлодка на Балтике в 1944 году. Поиск "девяносто шестой" в районе минного заграждения "Зееигель" занял у нас больше трех лет. По факту выяснилось, что "малютка" смогла пройти эти минные поля...

Транспорт “Аусма”

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Сторожевой корабль “Циклон”

СКР Циклон - одна из жертв Таллинского прорыва. После подрыва и гибели тр "Балхаш", "Циклон" вошел в поле обломков, пытаясь спасти людей из воды. Взрыв мины из той же минной линии разорвал корабль пополам, обломки затонули практически моментально и теперь лежат на глубине 96 м.

Ледокол “Кришьянис Валдемарс”

Ледокол «Кришьянис Валдемарс» лежит на глубине около 90 метров, глубоко зарывшись носом в ил, осмотру доступна характерная корма судна, имеющая уникальные для «Кришьяниса Валдемарса» конструктивные особенности.

Транспорт “Найссар”

Транспорт «Найссаар» должен был принять на борт 1500 человек из состава стрелковых частей защищавших Таллинн. Сколько было принято на борт людей и какие грузы, доподлинно неизвестно. Во время Таллинского прорыва транспорт подорвался на той же минной линии около полуострова Юминда, что и тр. Балхаш. Найден и идентифицирован в июле 2021.

Транспорт “Эверита”

На транспорте «Эверита» эвакуировался гарнизон острова Найссаар во время Таллинской эвакуации. Транспорт подорвался на мине в районе мыса Юминда, и практически мгновенно затонул. Погибло порядка 1500 человек.

Транспорт “Балхаш”

Погиб одним из первых транспортов на минных заграждениях около мыса Юминды. Вместе с транспортом погибло порядка 4000 человек - гарнизон города Палдиски и их семьи. Идентифицирован в августе 2021 года.

Транспорт “Атис Кронвальдс”

Латвийский пароход немецкой постройки 1900 года. В Таллине принял на борт 800 человек, в основном гражданских, а также имущество и оборудование Таллинского Военного порта. Вечером 29 августа погиб от ударов немецкой авиации. В воде оказалось около 800 человек. Обнаружен и идентифицирован в июне 2021 году.

Транспорт “Ярвамаа”

Эстонский пароход английской постройки, 1894 года. В Таллине принял на борт около 800 человек, в основном военных моряков из штабов КБФ и Бригады торпедных катеров, а также флотское имущество и вооружение со складов в Таллине. 29 августа тяжело поврежден бомбовыми ударами, горел всю ночь и затонул 30 августа. Обнаружен и идентифицирован в июне 2021 года.

Транспорт “Алев”

Погиб рядом с тр "Калпакс" 29 августа 1941 года, обнаружен и идентифицирован в июне 2021. Рядом с кораблем лежит, по-видимому, упавшая с палубы легковая автомашина.

Транспорт “Калпакс”

«Калпакс» затонул 29 августа 1941 года в 16 час. 46 мин, после попадания трех авиабомб. Сохранились донесения капитана и старшего помощника, которые подробно описывают героическую и трагическую гибель «Калпакса». Вместе с транспортом погибли порядка 1,5 тыс человек.

Немецкие охотники за подводными лодками (U-Bootjäger)

Четыре немецких охотников за подводными лодками из 12-й флотилии, отвечавшие за охрану минного заграждения "Зееигель". Погибли в разные времена при разных обстоятельствах, обнаружены нашей командой в процессе поиска подлодки М-96.

L-2 submarine

L-2 submarine sunk after she hit the mines near Juminda peninsula in 1941. All crew, including famous poet, navigating officer of L-2 Alexander Lebedev, died with the ship.

Sch-302 submarine

Sch-302 was the one of four three subs of "Pike"-class Soviet WWII subs. She disappeared without a trace in her first war patrol in 1942. Submarine wreck was discovered only in 2019.

Эсминец “Калинин” (“Прямислав”)

«Калинин» (до 5 февраля 1925 года «Прямислав») - эскадренный миноносец типа «Изяслав», принадлежащий второй серии эскадренных миноносцев типа «Новик». Погиб во время Таллинского прорыва, обнаружен командой в 2018 г.

Эсминец “Новик” (“Яков Свердлов”)

Эскадренный миноносец, герой Первой Мировой Войны, главное действующее лицо романа Пикуля "Моонзунд". Эсминец "Новик" погиб в 1941 году на мине во время Таллинского прорыва, под именем "Яков Свердлов".

Sch-308 submarine

Sch-308, the "Pike"-class Soviet WWII sub took part in two war patrols and disappeared without a trace in 1942. The submarine wreck was found by our team in 2018. Russian president Mr Putin has visited the Wargrave in 2019 while taking part in the memorial ceremony.

Sch-405 submarine

Sch-405 was the unluckiest of the Soviet Baltic fleet subs of WWII times. She survived two commanders, and the third one died with the submarine. She managed to take part in one war patrol, nearly survived and sunk on her way to the second one by Nazi mine in Soviet-controlled waters.

“Kalinin” destroyer (formerly “Pryamislav”)

Destroyer "Kalinin" was sunk during Soviet fleet evacuation from Tallinn on August 28, 1941, soon after she hit a German mine on Juminda minefield in Gulf of Finland.

S-12 submarine

S-12 Soviet WWII submarine was one of five subs sent with order to break thru the German minefields, crossing the Gulf of Finland in 1943. She struck the mine and was torn apart by the explosion. Submarine wreck is laying at 87 meters depth.

Sch-317 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.

Sch-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.

Sch-408 submarine

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

Sch-324 submarine

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M-95 submarine

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Vaindloo freighter

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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.

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.


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