29 July 2015 – Espoo, Finland

by Timo Mustonen

Another month, another submarine. The headlines seem to put a lot of Russian activity to Swedish coastline. This time they are correct, but a little bit late – about a century, to be precise.

A wreck search group Ocean X Team discovered last week a sunken submarine – 20 meters long, 3 meters wide and all hatches closed, relatively clean of dirt or marine life, and Cyrillic writing on the side. They took some photos and a bit of video and submitted them to both the newspapers and the Swedish Defence Forces for analysis.

The international media caught wind of this and all of a sudden reported on the discovery of a Russian mini-sub.

Swedish Defence Forces, as well as Swedish and Russian experts in military history, have now concluded that the submarine in question is most likely “Som” (Catfish), a Russian submarine that hit a Swedish steam boat “Ingermanland” in 1916 and sunk taking with her two officers and 16 crewmen. The full history of the Som and its crew is now complete.

Submarine Porpoise and Fulton
Submarine Porpoise and Fulton

The Som was originally built for the Imperial Russian Navy in the USA and commissioned as the Fulton. It was launched on 2 June 1901. The Som was lost in an underwater collision with the Swedish steamship “Ingermanland on May 10, 1916 at 4 o’clock in the morning. It served briefly served in the east observing Japanese ship movements.

The wreck was found in a depth beyond 40 meters, and it is not unheard of to find sunken ships in those depths that do not have much sediment on them. Russian analysts have concluded that the style of writing corresponds to that of the First World War era. The Swedish Defence Forces say, that more forensic analysis should be made to be absolutely certain that it is indeed “Som.” They also state that they are satisfied the submarine is a historical one, not a modern day one, and will not be conducting further analysis of the material.

The Baltic Sea is counted among one of the richest wreck diving sites with many of its lost ships still waiting to be discovered. But for this time, this was Russian encroachment…just 100 years ago.


Feature Photo – Swedish Navy Officer during BALTOPS 2003, Wikimedia Commons 2015

Inset Photo – Submarine Porpoise and Fulton, NavySource.org, 2015

By Timo Mustonen

Timo is a former soldier turned academic. He has achieved a Masters in International politics with Intelligence and Strategic Studies from the Aberystwyth University in Wales and holds a Bachelor's degree from the same university. Timo has worked his way through both public and private sectors all over European political sphere from governments to think tanks, consultancies and EU regional policy agencies. He currently works as an analyst for Defence Report, as well as an analyst for a Finnish innovation consultancy on EU matters. Timo can be contacted at: [email protected]