Sunken cognac-laden vessel found north of Åland
Rauma-based divers kept discovery a secret for six years
A team of divers from Rauma have disclosed the discovery six years ago of a sunken ship with a valuable load of cognac in the sea north of the Åland Islands.
According to cargo documents, the Swedish ship Kyros, which was sunk by a German submarine in 1917, was carrying 15 cases of liqueur weighing 610 kg. and 50 cases, or 1,260 kg. of cognac.
A team of divers led by Pasi Rytkönen of Rauma has made many dives to the shipwreck, which is lying at a depth of 80 metres, taking photographs, and exploring the wreck with the help of a robot.
“The wreck is so deep that a diver can be at the bottom for no more than 15 minutes. We have been at the wreck with our tanks and with rebreathers”, Rytkönen says.
So far, only a few objects have been salvaged from the wreck.
The team hope to start lifting the cargo to the surface next summer. “We will start by flushing out the mud that has gathered inside the ship. Then the divers will start to open the boxes."
“If each of the boxes contains 20 bottles, then there would be 300 bottles of liqueur and 1,000 bottles of cognac. On the other hand, the Germans have said that there would have been 5,000 kilos”, Rytkönen says.
Rytkönen does not yet know if the sediment inside will be cleared out by vacuuming, or by pumping water into the hold.
In the first phase the divers will try to make enough of a dent in the mud to uncover some of the boxes, and that one of the divers can go inside.
“I found a wreck with the help of a side-scan sonar. The first hint came from fishermen in the area in 1999. Then we lowered a camera at the end of a cable, as we had no side-scan sonar yet.”
“The wreck proved to be a vessel called the Erik, which was sunk the same day [as the Kyros]. Then we found two other vessels, before we were finally able to locate the Kyros.”
The Kyros is in international waters, about 50 nautical miles south-southwest of Rauma. It is about 30 nautical miles from Åland.
The Kyros was built in the Swedish city of Motala in 1859, and on May 16th, 1917 it was sailing from the Swedish city of Öregrund to either Rauma or Mäntyluoto with a cargo of 285 tonnes of tobacco, cognac, liqueur, sea shells, enamel utensils, and the boiler for a ship’s engine.
Near the Finnish coast it was stopped by solid ice, and was spotted by the German submarine UC-58. The captain of the U-boat said that the vessel would be sunk because it was carrying contraband.
The ship was sent to the bottom on May 19th after its crew had been ordered onto another ship, which continued to the German port of Swinemünde.
Finland has a recent history of turning up sunken vessels with interesting bottled beverages on board, as the links below indicate.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Beer found in sunken ship to be analysed and possibly brewed again (9.2.2011)
Sunken bubbly treasure sampled in Mariehamn (18.11.2010)
Åland Islands shipwreck champagne auctioned for record price (6.6.2011)