Case Study: Surveying Wrecks around Estonia
Why is the Estonian Maritime Administration surveying
old shipwrecks in Estonian waters?
The mission of the Estonian Maritime Administration is to ensure
safe navigation in Estonian waters. It is extremely important to
identify all possible navigational hazards, including wrecks.
Some of these wrecks, especially those lost during WWII, pose a
potential environmental threat because of their cargo and fuel.
High resolution Multibeam sonar systems help find and identify
such wrecks. Below are some examples of wrecks surveyed using a
Teledyne RESON SeaBat 7125.
About the Estonian Maritime Administration Hydrographic
The Hydrographic Department of the Estonian Maritime
administration was founded in 1993. Its primary purpose is to
conduct hydrographic surveys in Estonian waters, including inland
There are 13 surveyors at work in the Hydrographic Department.
The survey season is usually from May until November, while the
data processing is mostly done during the winter. All of the
collected and processed data enters the hydrography information
database - HIS. Data layers from this database are then available
in the web application Nutimeri (Smart Sea)
To this day, the Hydrographic Department has charted some 47
percent of Estonia's maritime areas and the long-term objective
is to chart 100 percent, which is stated in the maritime policy
of the state.
The survey fleet
The Estonian Maritime Administration Hydrographic Department
operates four survey vessels, three of which are equipped with
Teledyne RESON SeaBat sonar systems.
Jakob Prei is a 26m long SWATH type vessel for open-sea surveys.
The vessel is equipped with flush-mounted Seabat 7125 SV.
EVA-320 is an 18m catamaran type vessel soon to be equipped with
a SeaBat T50-R. She generally conducts surveys in shallower areas
of the Baltic Sea, such as the Väinameri Sea - a sub-bay between
the Western Estonian Archipelago and the Estonian mainland.
Kaja (meaning "echo" in English) is a catamaran launch type, with
shallow draught of 0.5m that enables surveying in Estonian inland
waters and shallow coastal sea areas. Kaja is equipped with
pole-mounted SeaBat T20-P.
The following examples highlight some of the wrecks that the
department has surveyed. These surveys have been conducted using
a SeaBat 7125 SV onboard the Jakob Prei.
The steamship Dago was built in England in 1912 as a cargo ship.
The ship was taken into use by the Russian navy during WWI, and
was rebuilt as an armed minesweeper carrying the bow number 4.
Dago was anchored West of Osmussaar island on October 23, 1915
due to bad weather, when she was attacked by the German submarine
U-9. The torpedo was shot from a short distance and hit the
minesweeper right in the center. The vessel foundered
immediately. Seven crew members were killed.
The gunnery ship-minesweeper Myrtle was built in England in 1915.
The ship arrived to Estonia during the days of the War of
Independence as part of the British squadron. The ship was
sweeping the German mine barriers from the sea routes. Myrtle was
lost on a German minefield near Harilaiu islet on July 15, 1919.
The ship was severely damaged in the course of several mine
explosions. There were casualties.
Latvian steamer, built in England in 1899. Hit a mine on 30 June
1941 and foundered. Five people lost their lives.
The brig Aid, captained by Richard Errington was on her way from
Sunderland to Kronstadt when she hit a reef near Hiiumaa in the
evening of August 9, 1863. The crew of eight men were forced to
leave the ship and head towards land in boats. The ship
repeatedly rammed the seabed and obtained a huge leakage. The
rudder of the ship broke and the attempt to steer the ship to
shore failed. There was a risk that the vessel would drift
further from the shore and so the eight-member crew abandoned
ship and headed towards land in boats early morning on August 10.
Before heading towards land, the light of Kõpu lighthouse could
be seen 10-12 miles S by E from the accident site. Fifteen
minutes later the ship sank.
The seiner Jastreb was lost in a storm on 23.11.1973 near
The tugboat Vega was being tugged by another tugboat Zubr and was
lost on February 6, 2016 possibly due to bad weather. Vega didn't
have any crew or fuel on board.
An unknown wreck is… well, unknown. It's one of the many wrecks
still waiting to be identified.
Mar 20, 2017