Shipwreck: F33.3 ORP "Wicher"

Shipwreck: F33.3
Name: ORP "Wicher"
Vessel: destroyer of Polish Navy
Construction period: 1930
Depth of occurrence: 5
Discovered: 1939
Start of research: 1997

Shipwreck photos


Site description

The F33.3 wreck, „Wicher” constitutes the remains of destroyer (torpedo boat destroyer) ORP „Wicher”. The warship was built in France and began the service in the Polish Navy in 1930, where the ship served as a flagship until 1937. The ship was bombarded by the German aircrafts on 3 September 1939 at the naval port in Hel. The Germans transported the wreck near the port’s breakwater, where it remains till today. On the wreck we can recognize propeller shafts and their brackets, perforated downcomers, elements of engine room and steering gear, pumps and ventilators, condensers and both Parsons’ steam turbines of low and high pressure with the right turbine preserved in the nearly original layout (elements visible in 3D model).

Technical Specification of ORP „Wicher”: Displacement - 1400 t (standard) - 1910 t (full), Dimensions – total length 106.9 m, width 10.5 m, draught 3.3 m, standard displacement 1540 tons. Propulsion - 3 Yarrow-Normand three-drum water-tube boilers, oil-fired, mounted in two boiler rooms, 2 units of Parsons’ steam turbines of total power 35 000 hp Speed 33 knots, range 3000 NM at 15 knots The ship’s crew included 12 officers and 150 petty officers and seamen. Warship’s Armament: four 130-mm guns, mle 19/24 Schneider-Creusot Model 1924, mounted on turrets, two at the bow and two at the stern; two anti-air 40-mm guns, mle 28 Vickers-Armstrong 2 pdr Mk II; two double 13.2-mm nkm Hotchkiss machine guns, mle 30 (from 1935); two triple 550-mm torpedo launchers (steam-gas torpedo type 23 DT) with reducers for 533-mm and 450-mm torpedoes; two Thornycroft 24-cm depth charge throwers, two depth charge launchers (20 bombs mle BH200); 60 mines, mle 08.

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Location

The object is located at a depth of 5 to 10 meters, several meters away from the breakwater of naval port in Hel. The axis of wreck structure runs along NW-SE direction with the bow at the north-west side.

Course of research

The exploratory works of the wreck were conducted by the archaeologists of the National Maritime Museum (NMM) between 1997 and 1999, 2001, and 2002. In 2018, the NMM research team performed thorough inventory of the site.

Chronology

ORP „Wicher” was the first of two destroyers (torpedo boat destroyers) ordered by the Polish government for the Polish Navy in the French shipyard „Chantiers Navals Français” in Blainville. The construction of „Wicher” was commenced in February 1927 and the warship was launched on 10 July 1928. On 8 July 1930, the Polish flag was raised on the ship and on 16 July 1930 the warship went to Gdynia as the first modern warship of the Second Polish Republic. The warship was bombarded by the German aircrafts on 3 September 1939 at the naval port in Hel.

Artefacts from the shipwreck

Artefacts listed under 200 inventory numbers were collected from the ship, including the ship’s equipment and the crew personal belongings, such as: ship’s bell with inscription ORP „Wicher”, nameplates and function plates, kitchen equipment and tableware, lamps and light fixtures, coins, glass bottles, marine buttons, shoes, razor, keys, kettle, handles and hangers and hatband.

    Bibliography

    Bednarz, T. Fotogrametryczny model 3D wraka polskiego kontrtorpedowca „Wicher”. Precyzyjna dokumentacja 3D podwodnych stanowisk archeologicznych (w druku).
    Borowiak M., Niszczyciel ORP Grom, 2016.
    Dyskant J. W., Polska Marynarka Wojenna w 1939 roku cz. 1, Gdańsk 2000.
    Koszela W., Niszczyciele Polskiej Marynarki Wojennej, Warszawa 2013.
    Neuman M., Flota II Rzeczypospolitej i jej okręty, Łomianki 2013.
    Skwiot M., Na dnie twoim lec... – losy „Wichra” i „Gryfa”, „Okręty”. Wydanie specjalne, 1/2013, p. 26-39.
    Szarski W., de Walden S., de Walden-Gałuszko K., ORP Wicher i jego dowódca, Zeszyt Helski 18, 2013.
    Zawadzki W. Polska Marynarka Wojenna w latach 1918–1939. „Morza Statki i Okręty”. 3/1998, p. 10 – 18.

    Research photos


    • Narodowe Muzeum Morskie w Gdańsku
    • śladami średniowiecznych wraków
    • śladami średniowiecznych wraków

    The "Gulf of Gdańsk Shipwreck Virtual Open-Air Museum" website (www.wsw.nmm.pl) has been created under the "Gulf of Gdańsk Shipwreck Virtual Open-Air Museum. Recording and Inventory of Underwater Archaeological Heritage" scientific research project, co-financed with the funds from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.