Lake of sunken ships

Belarusian diver found ships that saved blockaded Leningrad during war

Belarusian diver found at the bottom of lake Ladoga ships that heroically saved the blockade Leningrad during war

Daredevil in the aqualung – so shortly be called Igor Matjuk – professional diver. He more than 20 years raises from the dark depths of the military equipment of World War II. Its stunning flair for iron machine can «envy» of any metal detector. In his collection of formidable finds are 15 tanks and their fragments, one armored boat and two aircraft. And it is only in Belarus. The second consecutive year, the famous Belarusian diver explores the bottom of lake Ladoga. Lake, across which from 1941 to 1943, was run the Road of life – last chance of besieged Leningrad to get food, weapons and equipment. In an exclusive interview with «R» Igor Matiuk told of frightening encounters on Lake Ladoga, the terrible fate of the Soviet «Titanic» and the heroic island of Syho.

«Steam locomotives are floating on the water!»

«R»: – The last time we met with you on the «Stalin Line» under Zaslavl. Then you and your team engaged in the restoration of the tank, which was raised from bogs of Belarus. And then all of a sudden Russia, Ladoga, the blockade ... It is a new theme?

I. Matiuk: – Not at all. In 2003, I raised from the Neva the only survivor tank KV-1. Everything turned out. It has been 10 years. January 27 next year will mark the 70th anniversary of the complete lifting of the blockade, and I as an expert diver was again invited to take part in the search operation. Now in Ladoga. The bottom of the lake is now the cemetery of military equipment, the resting place of dozens and dozens of ships, armored vehicles, guns, boats, ground mines...

«R»: – Russians give you the coordinates of the sunken equipment?

I. Matiuk: – It is unlikely that they were all recorded somewhere. A description of the battles and the crash site we were trying to restore across military archives, as well as by surviving to the present day witnesses. In summer there are strong storms in Ladoga. So we decided to set up camp in the winter. We drilled the hole for the hole and lowered search magnetometers at the bottom. We were lucky. From the first time video camera clearly showed the steel tracks.

«R»: – Was the tank perfect?

I. Matiuk: – It was not a tank, and the Soviet tractor, and there were three. They were lying right next to the sunken barge, which was length 57 and width of 9 meters. Look – and on its rails are nine rail cars with diesel locomotive. All this meant only one thing: we have found a unique barge of the time of the blockade.

The most annoying thing is «black» divers

«R»: – Igor, with what unforeseen difficulties has you encountered in the course of exploratory work in Ladoga?

I. Matiuk: – There was almost the polar cold. Another real threat to life is a networks of fishermen, which caught on wrecks.

«R»: – Hopefully, in the summer on lake Ladoga weather was more favorable for the search?

I. Matiuk: – Yea. Aside from storms that run over here in 15 minutes. But the most unpleasant is a «black» divers. If you are alone and you can see from the bottom that to your launch swam up a boat, it is better not to appear at the top. For the radio or navigation you can get a shot of the spear gun.

«R»: – What’s the bottom line, your scanner «spotted» at the bottom?

I. Matiuk: – In total, we found 218 submerged objects of the last war. This pontoons, wooden barges with grain and coal, fragments of weapons, fuel tanks, trucks … But the most valuable it is the remains of the two flagship patrol ships that guarded the court Ladoga Flotilla «Designer» and «Snow Storm». Rear Admiral Kolchak once commanded the first of them.

And the horror cut souls in a half

«R»: – Tell me honestly, what terrible thing to see under water?

I. Matiuk: – If you say about the remains of sailors and passengers, they are rarely found. A lot of time has passed. This time, it was very hard to see the wooden cabin of skipper that remained on one of the barges. Usually on them families went to sea. This means that a husband and wife accepted death on the same day and hour.

«R»: – What a find of this expedition you consider the most valuable and why?

I. Matiuk: – The remains of the barge number 725, in other words, the Ladoga «Titanic». For many decades, this tragic page of military history was unknown. Moreover, it was kept secret. What happened on the night of 17th September 1941? Tug «Eagle» was pulling a barge across Lake Ladoga with the students of the Leningrad military schools, medics and officers. In total, on the board were more than 1,200 people, and it is only on official data. Because of the overload and the storm barge sprung a leak and began to sink. Consort gone unacceptable ahead far. Gunboat «Selemdzha», which has appeared in the disaster area, completely ignored the SOS signals. In the end, a tiny tug «Eagle» took on board from the icy water 216 people – it was no possible more. But on the distress signals soon German aircraft arrived and dropped six bombs.

«R»: – Do you want to pick up pieces of the barge number 725?

I. Matiuk: – Such plans we have. The legal issues are now being discussed.

But there have been other examples. I’m talking about unbowed and covered with glory Island Syho. October 22, 1942 the Soviet garrison lieutenant Gusev (104 soldiers) repulsed here the attack of 30 German landing craft. We walked this earth with awe. And we plunged into Lake Ladoga with a peculiar feeling. Trophy landing ship «Ziebel», that was found a kilometer from the coast, has caused almost boyish enthusiasm. Because we have won, defended and outdone.

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