|Type||Submarine, Malyutka class, XII type|
|Displacement||203t surfaced, 254t submerged|
|Maximum operating depth||60m|
|Weapons||2 bow torpedo tubes 533mm (loading from the outside), 2 torpedoes (7.2m, 44.5knots, 300kg explosive head), 1x45mm 21-K gun, 1×7.62mm AA gun|
|Propulsion||1x diesel 800hp, 1x electric 400hp|
|Speed surfaced||14 knots|
|Speed submerged||8 knots|
|Builder||Krasnoye Sormovo Shipyard No. 112|
|Sink date||Between October 17 and November 11, 1941|
|Sink reason||Mine or maybe own torpedo explosion, as large parts of the bow hull are missing, leaving the ribs exposed|
|Coordinates||N43 54.753 E028 44.684|
M-34 was laid at Krasnoye Sormovo Shipyard No. 112 as keel number 268, on February 22, 1939. The submarine's initial designation was M-67, and it was built for the Pacific fleet, part of the 25th Division of submarines, 2nd Brigade. The submarine was renamed M-34 most probably around November 15, 1939. At the same time the plan to send it to the Pacific fleet was cancelled, and it was transferred by rail to the Nikolaev Shipyard No. 198, where it was launched on June 23, 1940. After passing the commissioning tests, it entered service on December 31, 1940, under the command of Lieutenant Nikolai Golovanov.
On January 11, 1941, the submarine was enlisted in the 21st Division of the 2nd Brigade of submarines, then in February it was reassigned to the 7th Division, based in Sevastopol.
The submarine left the Sevastopol base on June 22 at 20:28, en route to position number 2, south-west of Cape Sarich. They have reached the patrol area on June 23, at 4:14, and for a few days sailed or sat on the bottom, inspecting the horizon every few minutes, but without making any contact.
On June 26, at 22:51, an urgent radio message was received, asking the submarine to take a new position. On June 27, at 2:36, the submarine reached the position and tried to report to the base, but a faulty transmitter made this task impossible until 12:30, when it was fixed. On June 28, at 2:17 they received a new message from the base, asking them to return.
During the return trip, on June 28, at 13:58, the submarine encountered a floating mine at 44°13'N, 33°35'E. They fired 16 shots from a distance of 6-7 cables, but the gun lock jammed. After reporting the mine's position, they continued sailing to Balaklava. At 15:51, another two floating mines were found at 44°11'N, 33°41'E, and then again, at 16:00, a single mine. The submarine entered Balaklava Bay at 19:46 and moored at 19:55.
The submarine departed from Balaklava on July 8 at 5:05, travelling to the assigned position number 7, south-east of Odessa. During the patrol, the submarine encountered no enemy ships. On July 15 at 17:55, it returned to Balaklava.
The submarine departed from Balaklava on August 4 at 12:00, en route to the assigned position number 7, south-east of Odessa. During the patrol, the submarine encountered no enemy ships. On August 13 at 17:05, it came back to Balaklava.
The submarine left Balaklava on August 27 at 10:12, going to Cape Olinka, via Zhebriyany and Snake Island. It arrived at the position on August 28. It encountered only enemy fishing boats. During the night of September 2nd, while charging the batteries, a small explosion followed by a fire occurred in the 4th compartment, due to improper hydrogen venting. Nobody died, but the boat was slightly damaged and the crew received some minor injuries. Due to this incident, the vessel returned to Balaklava on September 3, at 22:25.
The submarine left the Balaklava base at 17:03, travelling southward, towards position number 11 (in front of Constanta). On board the submarine was the representative of the British Royal Navy, Captain John Fawkes.
Going south at 10.5 knots on a Bft 3 sea, the submarine spotted at 18:42 the silhouette of another vesel, bearing 118 degrees, identified as a submarine at 18:51. The crew went to battle stations, prepared to launch a torpedo. At 18:56, the submarine was identified as the Soviet D-4. Captain Fawkes wrote in his report about this confusing situation.
The submarine arrived at the designated position on September 20 at 5:00. At 5:21 it descended to a depth of 25 meters, sailing towards bearing 270. At 7:30 the sub came to periscope depth. The visibility was 3-5 cables, and the captain was able to see an open beach towards west. They navigated during the day on bearing 23, at a speed of 3-4 kts. At 20:25, they surfaced to charge the battery packs.
On the early morning of September 21, the submarine was cruising in the area of Cape Tuzla, at 20 meters below the surface, bearing 270 degrees, when they hit the ground by mistake (at 5:12). They surfaced at 5:30 to inspect the possible damage, then at 5:40 sunk back, lying on the bottom at 28 meters. At 6:58 they surfaced to periscope depth; the visibility was good, nothing on the horizon, waves 2-3Bft. At 08:20, the submarine observed to the north a convoy of 2 transport ships, Italian tankers Superga and Tampico, and several military escorts (Romanian torpedo boats Zmeul, Zborul and Naluca, and the destroyer Regina Maria) travelling southward, at a distance of 40 cables. At 08:54, the submarine, while occupying a position (N43° 59'/E028° 44') at 5-7 cables from the convoy, fired a single torpedo towards Superga. After 45-48 seconds, a loud explosion was heard. Unknown to the M-34's crew, the tanker escaped unharmed, because the deck watch noticed the torpedo's wake and stopped the engine, slowing down, so the explosion took place in front of the bow. Nevertheless, Superga went down a few days later, sunk on September 29 by Shch-211, off Cape Emine.
After the failed attack, the submarine was hunted by the Romanian boats Naluca and Zmeul. Two depth charges exploded close to the submarine's hull, destroying the periscope, the trim pumps, some voltmeters and ammeters, and a few light bulbs. At 9:23, John Fawkes gave the captain the advice to run away, as their position was discovered, so they headed to 100 degrees, at 3kts, while continuing to hear the explosions behind them. In total, Naluca and Zmeul dropped 36 depth charges until 15:00. The periscope's damage was observed at 11:25, when they have tried to look through it to inspect the damage.
At 20:37 the submarine, which until that moment sailed slowly towards east, to escape the enemy ships, raised to the surface, so the crew could inspect the damage. Because of the broken periscope, they have decided to return to the base early, arriving on September 23 at 8:37 back in Balaklava.
The submarine departed from Balaklava at 17:30, going to position number 11, in front of Constanta. During the patrol, it encountered only patrol boats and enemy aircraft. On October 16, they had some malfunction on board which they had to repair, and in the evening they began the return trip, arriving on October 18, at 10:20, back in the harbour.
On October 28, at 07:10, the submarine left Balaklava for another mission in the area number 11, in front of Constanta. On board the submarine there was Iakimchuk Aleksei Danilovich, the Military Commissioner of the 2nd Brigade of submarines. According to the plan, the submarine had to begin the return trip on November 2, while the autonomy of the submarine allowed it to remain at sea until at most November 11. According to Romanian data, the submarine Delfinul, commanded by Constantin Costachescu, met on November 3, at 01:00, an enemy submarine, which was charging the batteries on the surface. Delfinul tried to attack the unknown submarine but the boat disappeared in the darkness. It is assumed this was the last known contact with M-34.
M-58 was laid at Krasnoye Sormovo Shipyard No. 112 as keel number 251, on October 25, 1937. It was built for the 24th Division of the 2nd Brigade of submarines. Since June 22, 1938, the assigned commander of the submarine is Kern Akim Alekseevich. In April 1939, it was reassigned to the 22nd Division.
The submarine was sent by rail to Nikolaev Shipyard No. 198, where it was launched on April 28, 1939, then it held seaworthiness trials, entering service on September 27, 1939. On November 15, the submarine was renamed M-55.
On December 17, 1939, because of a mistake of the БЧ-5 (electrical officer), the submarine got out at sea without a working thermometer on the “Mitchelia” (Mitchel?) propeller shaft bearing, which caused it to overheat and break.1). On December 25, a commander's mistake caused a collision with the Soviet submarine A-1, which broke the propeller of the M-55, without causing any damage to the A-1.
During February 1941, the submarine was reassigned to the 7th Division of the 2nd Brigade.
In June 1941, the submarine underwent repairs at the Zavod imeni Sergo Ordzhonikidze No. 201 Shipyard, in Sevastopol, then, during the night of June 23, it was transferred to Balaklava.
The submarine departed from Balaklava at 17:15, heading south-west of Tarkhankut Cape (position number 1). It returned to Balaklava on July 13, at 13:45, without encountering any enemy ships.
For the second patrol, M-58 was sent to position number 6, north-east of Fidonisi. The submarine left the harbour on July 27, at 13:30 and returned on August 4, at 18:01, without encountering any enemy ship.
The submarine left Balaklava at 16:40, heading to position number 7, south-east of Odessa. Their mission was to inspect Sulina's area for an eventual minefield.
On August 21, when the submarine reached the designated area, the commander took the decision to raid Sulina, but because of the fog and the gyrocompass failure, the attempt was abandoned.
On August 23, the submarine made a second attempt to approach Sulina. Despite being very difficult - shallow water and lots of fishing nets, the captain was able to approach and inspect the port in the evening. No ship was found inside, except for fishing vessels.
On August 24, the submarine got entangled into a fishing net, and it was pretty difficult to untangle the bow horizontal rudders.
The patrol ended on August 27, at 06:40. The commander reported that it is possible to approach Sulina and most probably there is no minefield in front.
The fourth patrol of M-58 was in position number 17, out of Sulina. The submarine left Balaklava on September 8, at 14:00. It stayed in the Sulina area between September 10 and September 13.
On September 12, the submarine hit an underwater obstacle with the bow horizontal rudders. The commander considered they hit an underwater anchored mine.
M-58 returned to Balaklava on September 15, at 18:15.
The submarine departed from Balaklava on September 26, at 17:30, heading towards position number 11, out of Constanta.
On the morning of September 28, when, according to the calculations, the submarine should have been 30 miles east of Constanta, it went underwater and continued to navigate towards Tuzla. At 17:00, the navigator estimated their position at 19 miles to the shore. Looking through the periscope, they were surprised to see Constanta at a very short range. Because of wind and currents, their calculation was wrong by 21 miles to the north-west. During the day, there was an explosion at a short distance from the submarine, which caused a strong shaking of the hull.
On September 30, there was another strong explosion astern of the submarine - most probably it hit by mistake a Soviet floating mine, without any serious damage resulting from this.
On the evening of October 1, while at the surface for battery charging, there was another explosion at the stern of the boat (apparently a Romanian mine this time, from the minefield protecting the Constanta harbour approach). Again, the submarine received no damage.
On October 3, the submarine left the area, heading back to Balaklava, where it arrived at 15:05 on October 4.
The captain reported that in the Tuzla area they have observed buoys and red landmarks on the shore, probably deployed as guidance for a new minefield. The captain's assumption was correct, on October 5 the Romanian minelayer Regele Carol I put in place the anti-submarin minefield S-12.
On October 16, at 07:10, the submarine began its last mission, in the Constanta area - position number 11. On October 22, at 23:00, the boat was ordered to return to base, but they didn't acknowledge.
Until now, there is no clear proof regarding the identity of the submarine.
Two Russian documents from 1941 state that there have been many mechanical issues with the standard PZ-7 periscope of the Class XII submarines. Until December 1941, 12 periscope replacements have been performed, out of which only one was due to combat damages. We know already that M-34's periscope was damaged in combat, during its fifth patrol. Same document is saying that on one of the submarines (not stating on which one), a PA-7.5 periscope was installed instead of the default PZ-7.
There is no document stating exactly that M-34 received the PA-7.5, but if a wreck with a PA-7.5 periscope would be ever found in Romanian waters, it would be identified as M-34, because M-58 had the original factory periscope (as it was never repaired/replaced), leaving M-34 to be the only Malyutka lost in Romanian waters which underwent periscope repairs. On the contrary, a wreck with PZ-7 periscope means nothing, as it is still possible M-34 is not the vessel which received the PA-7.5 periscope, so it might still have the default PZ-7. The wreck has the default PZ-7 periscope.
A more important document is the log of the Romanian submarine Delfinul, which encountered a Russian submarine on November 3, 1941, at 01:00, after passing the minefield protecting the Constanta harbour. The only Russian submarine operating in the area at that moment was M-34, at the end of its patrol. Delfinul tried to engage M-34, but due to poor visibility, the Russian vessel escaped unattacked. As M-34 was expected to return to base, it is more plausible to consider it escaped towards East, not South (where the wreck lies), and on its way home, it encountered later some floating mine. Further more, M-34 knew already about the Tuzla minefield, which they would have tried to avoid. On the contrary, M-58 didn't know for sure about the minefield (they have observed its preparations but it was not confirmed)
According to the data, the wreck has a better chance to be M-58, but M-34 cannot be ruled out for now.
The submarine lies upright, in one piece, at a depth of 37 meters, on a sand bottom. It received some serious damage, most probably from an explosion: the aft hatch is slightly opened, and ribs are exposed in the front section (parts of the deck and maybe hull are gone). Considering what can be observed through the partially opened hatch, it is very possible that the submarine is full with sand.
Interesting points on the wreck: