The Maritime Museum of Finland is going to publish 3D models of six historical shipwrecks. The wrecks are located in Svensksund outside Kotka. Four of the models are already on display online, and the remaining two will be published later this spring. Descriptions of the wrecks, the 3D models and research have been supported by the Alfred Kordelin Foundation.
The best known of the ships is the Russian frigate St. Nikolai. It sank to the south of Varissaari island during the second sea battle of Svensksund in 1790. The other sites are the wreck dubbed the ‘Dinghy wreck’ (Jollahylky) to the north of Lehmäsaari island, the so-called Gun sloop (Tykkisluuppi) nearby, the wreck at the northwest tip of Lehmäsaari island and the wrecks in the Ämpyri and Vassaari passage. The selected wrecks are interesting from the point of view of marine archaeological research, and the selection is partly based on information from previous research and reviews.
Descriptions of the wrecks, the 3D models and research have been supported by the Alfred Kordelin Foundation. The foundation has funded the Svensksund AD 1790 project implemented by the Maritime Museum of Finland. The history of Svensksund and the 3D models were discussed during the ‘Svensksund AD 1790 – The Changing Faces of Svensksund’ seminar at Maritime Centre Vellamo on 3–4 March.
Precise models facilitate research
There are dozens of wrecks in the Svensksund area dating from the sea battles fought in Svensksund in 1789 and 1790. The battles were part of the Russo-Swedish War (1788–1790), in which Sweden and Russia fought over control of the Baltic region. It is estimated that the two sea battles left roughly 60 wrecks of different sizes at the bottom of the sea, 19 of which have been located. Many of the wrecks are in very poor condition and are in danger of falling apart even more, which is why recording the current state of the wrecks is important.
The precise 3D models will make researching and identifying the wrecks easier, because a 3D image of an individual wreck will provide a more comprehensive image than images and videos. A dendrochronological dating sample, i.e. a sample based on growth rings in wood, is often also required. With the help of 3D models, the research into the underwater remains of the Svensksund sea battles has made excellent progress. 3D models also make it easier to plan future research dives and conduct further studies of the wrecks.
You can learn more about the Svensksund wrecks, sea battles and life in the fortress city built after the battles by visiting the ‘Kohtalona Ruotsinsalmi’ (Destiny: Svensksund) exhibition produced by the National Museum of Finland and Kymenlaakso Museum, which will be opened in Maritime Centre Vellamo in Kotka on 20 May 2020.
The 3D models of the wrecks have been published in the Sketchfab service, which is open to the public. You can already view four of the models, and the remaining two will be published later this spring. The intention is to also publish the models as open data later on, allowing anyone to utilise them.
The underwater imaging and 3D modelling of the St. Nikolai, the Dinghy wreck (Jollahylky), the Gun sloop (Tykkisluuppi) and the wreck at the northwest tip of Lehmäsaari island were performed by Cerella Oy by appointment of the Maritime Museum of Finland. The imaging and 3D modelling of the wrecks in the Ämpyri and Vassaari passage was carried out by marine archaeologists of the Finnish Heritage Agency.
The wreck of the St. Nikolai, the Russian frigate that sank in 1790, is located in a shipping lane and subjected to constant wear. It was discovered in 1948. Research has been conducted on the vessel throughout the decades, and plenty of structural parts and items have been extracted from it. The underwater visibility near the wreck is usually poor, and little to no images of the wreck exist. The imaging and 3D modelling allowed us to capture the wreck as it is now.
Tykkisluuppi (Gun sloop)
The wreck nicknamed Gun sloop was discovered in 1990. It was previously thought to look like a different type of vessel. By examining the 3D model and archive material of the battles we can now conclude that the vessel is probably the wreck of the Russian semi-galley Zlobnaia. The shape of the keel and the mention of a “galjot,” or semi-galley, sunk in the area in Swedish sources support this view. Semi-galleys were rowboats with a length of approximately 21 metres.
Wreck at the northwest tip of Lehmäsaari island
The wreck at the northwest tip of Lehmäsaari island was discovered in summer 1992. It was thought to have been connected to sea battles on Svensksund based on previous research. By examining the new 3D model, we have been able to conclude based on the vessel’s structure that it is probably a Russian gun dinghy.
- 3D model of the wreck at the northwest tip of Lehmäsaari island (Lehmäsaaren luoteiskärjen hylky)
- Wreck at the northwest tip of Lehmäsaari island in the Kyppi.fi service: www.kyppi.fi/to.aspx?id=112.11...
The wreck is located at the bottom of a busy route between Kuutsalo and Vassaari, at a depth of approximately six metres. The wreck is roughly 16 metres long and 5 metres wide. The bottom part of the hull is intact, and it sticks out of the sea floor by about one metre. The wreck is yet to be identified.
The Vassaari wreck in the Kyppi.fi service: www.kyppi.fi/to.aspx?id=112.10...
Jollahylky (the Dinghy wreck)
The Dinghy wreck was discovered in 1992. Previous observations indicated that the wreck was fragile. The name refers to a cutter or dinghy found underneath the wreck. A dating sample has confirmed that the vessel was part of the Svensksund sea battles and is probably of Russian origin. The objective of imaging the wreck and making a 3D model of it was to record the current state of the wreck and gain some material for further research. According to Russian sources, the Russian semi-lighter Lev, or Lion, was sunk in the area in the battle of 1790. No drawings of the Lev remain, but it had a length of 33.6 m and width of 10.1 m. The data matches with the length of the wreck, which is roughly 30 m. There is conflicting information about the time when the Lev was built, but it and four other similar vessels were completed on the St. Petersburg shipyard in 1789–1791.
- 3D model published later in the spring
- The Dinghy wreck in the Kyppi.fi service: www.kyppi.fi/to.aspx?id=112.11...
The wreck is located in front of the northeast tip of Ämpyri island at a depth of approx. five metres. The wooden wreck is roughly 20 metres long and 6 metres wide. It was discovered in summer 2019. Based on wood samples taken in autumn 2019, the wreck dates back to the late 19th century.
- 3D model published later in the spring
- The Ämpyri wreck in the Kyppi.fi service: www.kyppi.fi/to.aspx?id=112.10...
Maritime Museum of Finland, Project Researcher Marcus Lepola, tel. +358 (0)295 33 6500, firstname.lastname@example.org
Finnish Heritage Agency Intendant, Marine Archaeologist Päivi Pihlanjärvi, tel. +358 (0)295 33 6209, email@example.com
Maritime Museum of Finland Intendant Pia Paukku, tel +358 (0)295 33 6480, firstname.lastname@example.org