The northwestern area of Tankar, Kokkola


World War I was going on. The approximately sixty-meter-long passenger steamer Wellamo, built in Scotland’s Dundee in the late 1800s, was sunk by the German submarine U47 at the end of August 1916. Skipper Viktor Norring was taking the Finnish ship from Sundsvall in Sweden to Ykspihlaja in Kokkola. Before the submarine destroyed the vessel with its deck gun, the entire crew and the captain’s wife, a total of about thirty people, were allowed to quickly board the lifeboats. They rowed to safety in Ykspihlaja after watching the ship and its precious cargo sink into the depths.


The wreck was located a couple of years after it sank, and items could be salvaged from it in the early 1920s. The first dives also involved some drama: one of the divers died of divers’ disease. He had lost his lead weight and ascended to the surface too quickly.


For a long time, the wreck, which lies at a depth of over 40 metres, was forgotten, until the diving club Kokkolan Merisaukot located it in August 1977. Since that time, the wreck has become a popular diving destination. Diver Arvo Hyytiä describes his experience of finding the wreck as follows: "Joyfully I moved to the wreck and hugged it, as this had been my dream for years, and it occurred to me that I was the first person to see this ship in more than fifty years." (Hyytiä: Rauhan meri)


When a trawl damaged the wreck in 2004, both of its masts broke off, but one of them was salvaged. Today the anchor of Wellamo can be found on the terrace of Kokkola City Library.


The You Tube film ‘Sukellus Wellamolle’ (author Janne Joensuu) features exciting diving shots at the wreck. http://www.hylyt.net/item/wellamo-3254/#content




“Suddenly the captain rubbed his eyes. Did he see correctly: (…) A warship! ´Full speed!´, the captain commanded. At the same time, he called the crew on the deck. All the boats were prepared for launching. But the Wellamo was mercilessly slow compared with its pursuer. In half an hour, the distance between them had shortened fearsomely. Then the Wellamo crew found out the truth: the pursuer was a German submarine. The Finnish vessel made a desperate attempt to escape. Then a shot from the deck gun rang out. The warning shot was soon followed by a hard shot: a shell whistled above the ship, almost touching the funnel." (Eka: Urheilusukeltaja magazine, 24 February1979)


“The submarine shows with flag signals that the crew must leave the ship. They need to rush. The youngest of them, 17-year-old Kalle, even leaves his pocket watch hanging in the crew room.  Lieutenant commander Heinrich Metzger and his crew master their task. The submarine opens fire: 16 gunshots and the Wellamo rapidly sinks, bow first. The crew of 28 men and the captain’s wife are saved. A fortune of over five million marks sinks into the depths, reports the Sundsvalls Tidning later.” (Latva-Teikari: YLE News, 9 October 2009)




A painting of the Wellamo (Pietarsaaren kaupunginmuseo)


A plate of the Wellamo (K.H. Renlundin museo - Keski-Pohjanmaan maakuntamuseo)


A anchor of the Wellamo (Kokkolan kaupunginkirjasto)


A lantern of the Wellamo (K.H. Renlundin museo - Keski-Pohjanmaan maakuntamuseo) 


Cutlery of the Wellamo (K.H. Renlundin museo - Keski-Pohjanmaan maakuntamuseo)



Tableware (K.H. Renlundin museo - Keski-Pohjanmaan maakuntamuseo)


Tableware (K.H. Renlundin museo - Keski-Pohjanmaan maakuntamuseo)


Video (in Finnish)


You Tube -filmissä Sukellus Wellamolle (tekijä Janne Joensuu) näytetään jännittäviä sukellusotoksia hylylle.


Janne Joensuu
Sukellus Wellamolle. Julkaistu 1.8.2013.