X

Check out these pre-WWII submarines from an unlikely location

Behold historic subs from Estonia and Finland, the FNS Vesikko and EML Lembit.

headshots_Geoffrey_Morrison_140x100.jpg
headshots_Geoffrey_Morrison_140x100.jpg

Geoffrey Morrison

See full bio
beneath-the-baltic-10-of-49.jpg
1 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

FNS Vesikko

The first of our two Baltic sea submarines is the FNS Vesikko, on the island fortress Suomenlinna in Helsinki, Finland.

For more about these submarines and the tours of these museums, check out Beneath the Baltic: Exploring Estonian and Finnish submarines.  

beneath-the-baltic-11-of-49
2 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Finnish

The Vesikko was built in Finland, commissioned by a Dutch company that was actually a front for the German government after the end of WWI when the country was barred from building submarines. In 1936, she started sailing for the Finnish Navy.

beneath-the-baltic-28-of-49
3 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

3x5

The Vesikko has three torpedo tubes, and carried five torpedoes.

beneath-the-baltic-13-of-49
4 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

A tiny space

This is one of the smallest subs I've toured. The interior diameter of the pressure hull is 13 feet, or 4 meters. When you're standing on the deck it's easy to reach out and touch the ceiling and walls.

beneath-the-baltic-12-of-49
5 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

On patrol

During one patrol, when Finland was at war with the Soviet Union, the Vesikko sank a Russian merchant vessel. This was her only confirmed successful attack.

beneath-the-baltic-14-of-49
6 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Bunks and torpedeos

It's common for crew to bunk up with torpedoes in submarines.

beneath-the-baltic-15-of-49
7 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Lightly lavish

The officers' "quarters" are decked out in teak and mahogany. They were separated from the rest of the crew by a curtain. The benches would be converted to bunks at night.

beneath-the-baltic-16-of-49
8 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

A short walk to work

That's the control room, a step away from the officer's quarters. As I said, it's a small sub.

beneath-the-baltic-17-of-49
9 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Hard to port

The controls and meters for controlling the sub's direction and inclination.

beneath-the-baltic-18-of-49
10 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Going deep

A small table for charts and on the left, controls for the ballast tanks. The device on the right is a gyrocompass.

beneath-the-baltic-19-of-49
11 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Sail away

Up that ladder is a small compartment inside the sail.

beneath-the-baltic-20-of-49
12 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Radio and sonar

The small, soundproof radio and sonar room.

beneath-the-baltic-22-of-49
13 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Diesels

Two 350 hp diesel engines recharged the batteries and supplied power to the two 170 hp electric motors.

beneath-the-baltic-21-of-49
14 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Oil hungry

Apparently, the engines needed constant lubrication while running. The engineers had to brace themselves with one hand so they wouldn't slip on the floor while oiling the engine. During operation this compartment would have been deafeningly loud and swelteringly hot.

beneath-the-baltic-23-of-49
15 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

All ahead suurin

This type of dial is in every submarine I've ever toured, the only substantial difference is the language. 

beneath-the-baltic-24-of-49
16 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Switches

Heavy-duty switches distribute power.

beneath-the-baltic-25-of-49
17 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Heading aft

The rearmost compartment has more bunks.

beneath-the-baltic-26-of-49
18 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Crew

The Vesikko had a crew of 16, of which 4 were officers.

beneath-the-baltic-30-of-49
19 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Slow go

Top speed on the surface was 15 mph (24 km/h), and 9.2 mph (15 km/h) underwater.

beneath-the-baltic-29-of-49
20 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Range

Running on the surface, the Vesikko had a range of about 1,550 miles (2,500 km), though that would depend how often she needed to submerge. Range underwater on a full charge of her batteries was around 46 miles (74 km) at 4.6 mph (7.4 km/h).

beneath-the-baltic-58-of-49
21 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Over to Tallinn

Next we head south, across the Gulf of Finland to Tallinn, Estonia's Seaplane Harbour museum. The buildings date from the early 20th century and are stunning in their own right.

beneath-the-baltic-32-of-49
22 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Lembit

The EML Lembit was built in Barrow-in-Furness, England, in 1936.

beneath-the-baltic-33-of-49
23 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Oldest

When it was finally removed from the water in 2011, the Lembit was the oldest submarine still afloat.

beneath-the-baltic-34-of-49
24 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Projection

Different scenes, depicting life aboard the sub, are projected using the hull as the screen.

beneath-the-baltic-35-of-49
25 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Bow

The Lembit has four torpedo tubes, all in the bow, with eight torpedoes total.

beneath-the-baltic-36-of-49
26 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Resto

The Lembit, in her long life, lost her torpedo tube covers. One was found before the most recent restoration. The others were reconstructed using plans discovered at the Vickers and Armstrongs shipyard in the UK.

beneath-the-baltic-37-of-49
27 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Fire away

Since submarines of this era spent most of their time on the surface, the Lembit also had 40mm and 7.7mm anti-aircraft guns.

beneath-the-baltic-38-of-49
28 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Bell

The Lembit was one of two subs in the Kalev-class. The Kalev was sunk in 1941.

beneath-the-baltic-39-of-49
29 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Torpedo room

After descending through a narrow hatch and narrower ladder, you enter the torpedo room.

beneath-the-baltic-40-of-49
30 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Running true

The Lembit sunk two ships with torpedoes and at least five more with mines.

beneath-the-baltic-41-of-49
31 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Living quarters

The next compartment is the officer's living space. Under the deck was storage for ammunition.

beneath-the-baltic-56-of-49
32 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Officers

While part of the Estonian Navy the Lembit had 4 officers and 28 enlisted men. That increased to 7 and 31 when operated later in the war by the Soviets.

beneath-the-baltic-55-of-49
33 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Captain's cabin

The captain was the only person with a private cabin.

beneath-the-baltic-42-of-49
34 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Converted

If this looks small enough to be a bathroom that's because early in the sub's life, it was. It was converted to a sonar room in 1943.

beneath-the-baltic-53-of-49
35 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Helm

This is the helm. The chair is not original, but you can sit in it and pretend to steer .

beneath-the-baltic-54-of-49
36 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Navigation

The Lembit was designed for coastal defense and spent most of her life in the Baltic Sea. On the table is an early form of GPS called a map.

beneath-the-baltic-52-of-49
37 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Down periscope

This is the Commander's periscope. A second  observation periscope was removed.

beneath-the-baltic-50-of-49
38 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Surface the ship

Here are some of the controls to submerge or surface the ship.

beneath-the-baltic-49-of-49
39 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Galley

At the end of the control room is the tiny galley. 

beneath-the-baltic-44-of-49
40 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Engine room

Originally the Lembit had two 600 hp diesels for surface running and recharging the batteries. One is now missing. Two 395 hp electric motors that provided propulsion underwater are at the other end of this compartment.

beneath-the-baltic-45-of-49
41 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Flip the switch

Switches controlled the flow of power. 

beneath-the-baltic-48-of-49
42 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Windowed

A clear section of floor lets you see down to the inner side of the hull.

beneath-the-baltic-46-of-49
43 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Stern

In many submarines the rearmost compartment has aft-facing torpedo tubes. Here, like on the Vesikko, it's used for more crew living space instead.

beneath-the-baltic-47-of-49
44 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Cramped quarters

About 16 men would sleep in here. There's a toilet in the corner as well.

beneath-the-baltic-57-of-49
45 of 45 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Flank speed

Top speed on the surface was around 15.5 mph (25 km/h) and 8.5 mph (15.7 km/h) submerged.

So ends our look at these Baltic sea submarines. For more about them and their museums, check out Beneath the Baltic: Exploring Estonian and Finnish submarines.

More Galleries

2022's Best TV Shows You Can't Miss on Netflix, HBO, Disney Plus and More

More Galleries

2022's Best TV Shows You Can't Miss on Netflix, HBO, Disney Plus and More

95 Photos
Movies Coming in 2022 From Marvel, Netflix, DC and More

More Galleries

Movies Coming in 2022 From Marvel, Netflix, DC and More

81 Photos
2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid Is a Seriously Efficient Truck

More Galleries

2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid Is a Seriously Efficient Truck

25 Photos
The 40 Absolute Best Games on Nintendo Switch

More Galleries

The 40 Absolute Best Games on Nintendo Switch

41 Photos
2023 Honda HR-V Is Uglier but Improved

More Galleries

2023 Honda HR-V Is Uglier but Improved

72 Photos
The 51 Best VR Games

More Galleries

The 51 Best VR Games

53 Photos
2022 Chevy Silverado Is a High-Class Super Cruiser

More Galleries

2022 Chevy Silverado Is a High-Class Super Cruiser

34 Photos