What it was like to be one of the 20-member crew of a submarine in 1930s?
If you want to experience this exotic enviroment, it is possible by visiting the museum submarine Vesikko in Suomenlinna.
Story of Vesikko
Vesikko was built in 1930s in a shipyard in Turku, Finland. It was launched in 1933 and delived to Germany, where is was known as CV-707. However, Finland wanted to strengthen its own navy and bought a submarine back in 1936. In Finland it was renamed as Vesikko. Vesikko was one of Finland’s five submarines. The other four were named Vetehinen, Vesihiisi, Iku-Turso and Saukko.
Vesikko is a Finnish word for mink and Saukko means otter. The other three; Vetehinen, Vesihiisi and Iku-Turso are mystical Finnish creatures living in water. So Finnish submarines didn’t sound very threatening, but were ready to protect Finnish waters when needed.
Unfortunately, submarines were soon needed when Finland was drawn in the World War II. Finnish submarines were used for patrol and convoy missions. Vesikko operated in the Gulf of Finland and had its home base in Suomenlinna. During the Winter War (1939-1940), the role of Vesikko and the other submarines remained small. In the Continuation War (1941-1944) Vesikko patrolled the Gulf of Finland and protected trading ship traffic. Vesikko’s duties as a warship ended on December 15, 1944.
Vesikko Became a Museum Submarine
After the war, the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947 forbade Finland from having submarines. Therefore all of the submarines were scrapped, expect one. Vesikko was the only was that was saved. After a long and extensive restoration it was opened to the public in 1973 as an exhibit of the Military Museum. Nowadays it is a significant memorial to naval warfare as a restored 1930s submarine.
This war veteran is spending its quiet retirement days on the Susisaari island, on the coast of Helsinki, but is happy to welcoming guests during summer season. Please check the opening hours from the Suomenlinna website.
Image by Dorit Salutskij / Suomenlinna Governing Body