Estonian 1930s Submarine Pulled Out of Sea
23 May (BNS)
In a technically complex operation that ended Saturday night, the submarine Lembit was raised from the sea at the Seaplane Port of Tallinn to be displayed in the seaplane hangars that will soon become the new home to the exhibits of the Estonian Maritime Museum.
The 600-ton vessel was raised along a 100-meter slipway specially built for that purpose at the Seaplane Port, spokespeople for the Maritime Museum said. In the process the submarine was supported with pontoons eight meters long and a BTS- 4 armoured recovery vehicle was used as the pulling vehicle.
The museum's director, Urmas Dresen, said that the operation took longer than planned but the effort fulfilled its goal. "In the course of the next month we will perform cleaning and painting work on the hull, after which the crown jewel of Estonia's maritime history will take up its dignified place in the hangars," Dresen said.
The museum said that during the two days that the operation was in progress some 2 000 people visited the Seaplane Port. A direct video broadcast on the Delfi portal was viewed by approximately 18 000 people, Delfi said.
Raising the Lembit from the sea, its transport, and placing it in the hangars took almost 20 hours and cost 362 970 euros.
"Since this is the first time that technology like this was used to pull a ship ashore in Estonia, were became richer by a valuable experience," said Hendrik Naar, chief of the development department at the company MEC Insenerilahendused, which was one of the businesses involved in the operation. "Technically the whole operation went as planned. We had a bigger reserve of pulling power than we actually used. Of our 175-ton pulling power we actually used about 40 tons," he said.
Built on order from Estonia in Barrow-in-Furness, England, in 1936, the Lembit was part of the Estonian Navy until the Soviet takeover of Estonia in 1940, when she became part of the Soviet Union's Baltic Fleet. The Lembit performed seven combat missions during World War II, spending 109 days at sea and torpedoing several vessels. After the war the Lembit was taken into use as a training vessel. He was returned to then Estonian SSR in 1979, becoming a museum ship.
The mine-layer Lembit is the only submarine of its series to have survived to this day without major reconstruction, the museum said. Even the UK, the country where the ship was built, does not have any subs intact from the same period. Until the early morning of 21 May the Lembit was the world's oldest submarine still afloat.
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