väike pilt
ID: 1272 Name: Shchit
Inserted: 17.01.2018 Monument: 30968
Country of origin: Russia
Date: 20th century Construction Year: 1916
Sinking time: 6.12.1916 Propulsion: steamship
Address: Inland sea, Baltic Sea
Found: Yes Purpose: warship
Vessel type: minesweeper Coordinates: 58 41.487N 22 24.695E
Open map: Open map
History: In the early 20th century the Imperial Russian Navy focused primarily on development of underwater weaponry. Thus considerable attention was given to modernisation of mine structure and action mechanisms. The navy command planned to protect the Russian capital, St Petersburg, by laying extensive minefields in the Gulf of Finland and constructing a belt of coastal defence batteries.
Although the Russians did manage to develop the most effective mines in the world at that time, implementation of suitable methods for dealing with such mines was problematic. Until the start of the First World War Russia lacked a dedicated naval vessel type for minefield operations – the minesweeper. In the autumn of 1914 the Baltic Fleet command requested more ships suited for minesweeping. Naval Minister Ivan Grigorovich ordered the Main Shipbuilding Administration to design a minesweeper with shallow draught. This minesweeper project was based on the Buryat type gunboat hull.
In March 1915 construction of the Schit and Krambol minesweepers began at the Russian-Baltic Shipyard in Tallinn, while work on the Kapsiul and Gruz sister ships commenced at the Putilov Shipyard in St Petersburg. The Main Shipbuilding Administration appointed the following construction process supervisors: shipbuilding engineer Lieutenant-Colonel I. Blagoveschensky in Tallinn and shipbuilding engineer Colonel I. Khranovitsky in St Petersburg. With schedule delays beginning early on, the Shchit and Krambol minesweepers were only completed in September 1915. The minesweeper machinery and equipment trials lasted from October 1915 until May 1916. The minesweepers were officially accepted into service in June 1916.
Story of Sinking: These Kapsiul class minesweepers were assigned to the 1st Minesweeper Squad of the 3rd Division, to serve alongside the four already operating minesweepers. Despite some structural defects, the shallow-draught minesweepers performed many military missions. One typical episode began on 28 August 1916 when the four minesweepers entered the Irbe Strait to remove enemy minefields. The minesweeping work conditions were difficult. From 29 August to 13 September the crews had only four days of relative inactivity and even that was only due to strong winds interfering with their efforts. On the other days the ships would set out at 5-7 o’clock and return at 20-22 o’clock. Then there was patrol duty, night-time minesweeping and laying of mines in hostile coastal waters off Latvia.
On 6 September several German destroyers fired at the minesweepers near the Irbe Strait, with the Shchit registering the highest number of hits. But the damaged vessel managed to reach the home port. In late September 1916 the minesweepers laid 300 mines across the Irbe Strait, extending the Russian minefields already in the area. It should be noted that on the night of 17 September the ships were laying mines in strong winds, listing up to 35 degrees.
Only one of the vessels sank as in the course of the hostilities. On 6 December 1916 in the Soela Strait the minesweeper Shchit collided with a German mine. The mine exploded under the stern and the ship began to sink. According to the accident report submitted by Senior Lieutenant G. Dombrovsky in charge of minesweeping, the crew maintained good discipline. There was no panic and all orders were carried out properly. The commanding officer on the Shchit deemed it impossible to save the vessel because the stern was ripped apart by the blast. He ordered the crew to abandon ship. The steam was released from the boilers and the secret documents were handed over to the commanding officer on the Gruz. At first an attempt was made to tow the vessel but the stern had already reached the bottom of the sea and was stuck there, with only the bow still above water, so towing failed. Soon the towing line was removed and the Shchit went down with no fatalities.
Object Data: Technical specifications
Construction date and location: June 1916, Tallinn, Russian-Baltic Shipyard
Length, width and draught: 53 x 6.6 x 1.2 m
Displacement: 271 t
Engine power: two steam engines totalling 650 hp, two Yarrow steam boilers and two propellers
Speed: 9 knots
Operating range: 450 nautical miles at optimal speed (6 knots)
Fuel storage capacity: 40 t
Crew: 38
Armament: 1 x 75 mm Canet gun situated on the bow in front of the captain’s bridge, also 2 x 7.6 mm light machine guns.
Description of Location: The wreck of this ship is located about 2.2 miles to the west-southwest of the Kõpu Peninsula (Vähelaidu Islet), immediately to the north of the shipping lane. The sea depth at this location is about 12-13 metres and the wreck rises up to 2 metres from the seafloor.
Archival Reference: EAA.1804.2.5005
Resource Links & Literature: Киреев И. А. Траление в Балтийском море в войну 1914–1917 гг. Военмориздат НКВМФ СССР, 1939.
Description of condition: The stern had broken off the hull and is situated about 10 metres to the southwest of it under a 90-degree angle. The wreck had been partially covered by the sediments and is visible lengthwise for about 33 metres. The separated stern is about 15 metres long.