Finnish coastal defence ship Väinämöinen

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Väinämöinen 1938.jpg
Career Naval Ensign of Finland.svg
Name: Väinämöinen
Ordered: 1927
Laid down: August, 1929
Launched: 29 April 1932
Commissioned: 28 December 1932
Fate: Scrapped ca 1968
General characteristics
Class & type: Väinämöinen-class
Displacement: 3,900 t
Length: 93.0 m (305.1 ft)
Beam: 16.864 m (55.33 ft)
Draught: 5.0 m (16.4 ft)
Propulsion: Diesel-Electric powertrain
four Krupp engines 875 kW, two shafts.
3,500 kW (4,800 hp)
Speed: 14.5 knots (26.9 km/h; 16.7 mph)
Range: 700 nmi (1,300 km; 810 mi)
Complement: 410
Armament: 2 × 2 × 254 mm Bofors
4 × 2 × 105 mm Bofors
4 × 40 mm Vickers
2–8 × 20 mm Madsens

Väinämöinen was a Finnish coastal defence ship, the sister ship of the Finnish Navy's flagship Ilmarinen and also the first ship of her class. She was built at the Crichton-Vulcan shipyard in Turku and was launched in 1932. Väinämöinen, as well as Ilmarinen were planned to be mobile coastal fortresses for the defence of the Finnish demilitarized islands at Åland in particular. The two ships were not suited for operations on the open sea. The biggest problems were that the ships were volatile and rolled too much. The minimal depth keel, together with the high conning tower, made the ships' movements slow and wide. It was said that the ships were uncomfortable, but harmless to their crews.

The ship's heavy armament (254 mm Bofors) could fire shells of 255 kg up to 31 km.

Fire control[edit]

When it came to fire control, the two coastal ships were identical. The fire control and the lining of the gun towers were connected electrically and the values and commands could be given without spoken contact. With the aid of mechanical calculators, the values were transferred directly to the gun towers.

Operational history[edit]

Väinämöinen in 1940.

The first longer cruise that the ships did together was to the fleet parade at Spithead, where they participated in the festivities for the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The design's bad seagoing capabilities were markedly demonstrated south of Gotland, where she needed tug help from the bigger Swedish ship HMS Drottning Victoria.

When they arrived at Spithead the ships were praised for their beautiful lines. Many officers who had experience from the waters of the Baltics remarked that the ships were perfect for that environment. It is said that someone commented on the looks of the ships in the following manner: "Finland must be a strong sea power, even their lightships are armed with 10-inch guns."

Winter War[edit]

During the Winter War, the two coastal defence ships were transferred to the Åland islands to protect against invasion. When the ice cover started to become too thick in December, the ships were transferred to Turku, where their anti-aircraft artillery aided in the defence of the city.

Continuation War[edit]

The only time Väinämöinen and Ilmarinen fired their heavy artillery against an enemy was at the beginning of the Continuation War, during the Soviet Red Army evacuation of their base at the Hanko Peninsula. Väinämöinen also participated in the distraction manoeuvre Operation Nordwind on 13 September 1941, during the course of which her sister ship Ilmarinen was lost to mines.

In 1943 "Detachment Väinämöinen", which consisted of Väinämöinen, six VMV patrol boats and six motor mine sweepers, was moved east in to take positions along the coast between Helsinki and Kotka. She did not actively participate in many operations, since the heavier Soviet naval units never left Leningrad, where they were used to effect as floating batteries during the siege. As a result, Väinämöinens primary operational duties were to patrol the Gulf of Finland between the minefields "Seeigel" and "Nashorn", as well as protection of the German-Finnish anti-submarine net across the gulf.

During the Soviet assault in the summer of 1944, the Soviets put much weight in trying to find and sink the Väinämöinen. Reconnaissance efforts revealed a large naval ship anchored in Kotka harbour and the Soviets subsequently launched a large-scale air attack by 132 bombers and fighters. However the target was not Väinämöinen — instead it was the German AA cruiser Niobe.

Postwar[edit]

After the end of the Continuation War it was decided to hand over the Väinämöinen as war reparations to the Soviet Union. The ship was handed over on 29 May 1947 to the Soviet Baltic Fleet, where it was renamed Vyborg. The ship served over 6 years in the Red Fleet at the Soviet base in Porkkala, Finland. The ship was called Vanya (a Russian short form of the name Ivan) by the sailors of the Baltic Fleet.

The Vyborg was modernized during the 1950s and served for a while as a residential ship in Tallinn. Preparations to scrap the ship were begun in 1958. During this time, there were talks to return the ship to Finland. The ship was, however, scrapped in 1966 at a Leningrad scrapyard. According to Soviet calculations, they received 2,700 tons of metal from the ship.