Finnish divers reveal fate of German torpedo boats in 1916

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Helsinki, Aug 13 (IANS) Finnish divers have allegedly located two World War I sunk German warships in the Baltic Sea between Finland and Estonia, the media reported on Friday.

The ships were among the seven German torpedo boats lost after an attack against the Russian base in Paldiski, Estonia, in early November 1916, reports Xinhua news agency.

Newspaper Helsingin Sanomat defined the findings now as the most important discovery of sunk ships in the Baltic in recent years.

Juha Flinkman, a member of the Finnish diver group Badewanne, told the daily that the fate of German flotilla was one of the last question marks still open from the World War I naval history.

Until 1940s, the prevailing view was that the boats were destroyed in combat with Russian artillery. A group of 10 torpedo boats and three light cruisers completed the pounding of Paldiski, but seven torpedo boats did not return to the base in Latvia.

Researcher Juha Joutsi from the Finnish War Museum told Helsingin Sanomat that the operation in 1916 marked the largest losses of the Germans in the Baltic Sea during the Great War.

Even though called torpedo boats, the fairly new German vessels then were destroyer class, some 80 meters long. The class was called V-25 and a total of 71 vessels were built in all, Xinhua reported.

The operation to dive to the depth of some 100 meters had been difficult. The group was able to locate torpedo boats G90 and S59. Parts of G90 were missing as the Germans themselves directed a torpedo to it to speed up sinking.

The German vessels were divided into small compartments and thus explosive mines did not sink them instantly and Germans were able to evacuate most sailors.

Work to find the remaining five vessels will continue next summer, Xinhua said.

The Finnish group earlier made news for having located the wrecks of Russian cruises Pallada and German World War I submarine U-26.

The group finances its work on its own or through sponsors. It is not associated with Finnish authorities.

–IANS

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