Evacuation of Hanko

The supply situation in Hanko was terrible, and for example food rations were sometimes lower than those in Leningrad. On 25.10. the order was given to transport 28 000 men and as much war material as possible from Hanko to Leningrad, where experienced troops were needed. The evacuation was done in four convoys. The greatest danger was again mine barrages as half of the large T-class mine sweepers were already lost and small motor sweepers were useless in stormy open seas.

The first ships sailed to Hanko on 24.10. They were five T-class mineweepers and two MO patrol boats. The ships sailed fast and did not use their paravans and thus T 203 was lost after striking a mine. The rest of the ships arrived in Hanko as first supply transport in two months. They returned with one battalion of infantry and war material that were delivered to Oranienbaum. The first evacuation convoy consisted of two destroyers, minelayer Marti, four T-class sweepers and six MO-boats. The ships sailed 1.11 from Suursaari, arrived early morning on 2.11. to Hanko and sailed again same evening returning to Suursaari next morning 3.11. Sweeper T 210 and Marti were damaged by mines, but all ships arrived to Kronstadt. Next convoy with two destroyers, four T-class sweepers and four MO-boats arrived to Hanko on 4.11. The ships sailed back the same evening. Short before midnight the ships sailed into the old German "Corbetha" barrage. Destroyer Smetlivyi was lost.

The third convoy was larger than previous two had been. It consisted of two destroyers, five T-class sweepers, four MO-boats, minelayer Ural and large passenger ship Andrei Zdanov. When the ships passed Suursaari 10.11., the weather was stormy and visibility poor. Two of the sweepers collided and had to turn back, later the whole convoy returned to Suursaari because of the storm. Next day the ships sailed again. The remaining three sweepers could clear only a 60 m wide channel and in the dark and high sea maintaining correct course was impossible. Flotilla leader Leningrad was damaged by mine and together with Andrei Zdanov the two ships started to sail back. Andrei Zdanov sailing ahead of Leningrad was hit by mine and sank. Leningrad anchored and waited for help from the sweepers. All the Navy vessels returned then to Suursaari without any results. A new attempt was made two days later, 13.11. with two destroyers, four T-class sweepers, four MO-boats, Ural and submarines L 2 and M 98. The ships sailed into "Juminda" barrage after midnight. Minesweeper T 206, destroyer Surovyi and submarine L 2 were lost. Three hours later also destroyer Gordyi was lost in mines. Submarine M 98 disappeared without a trace. Only Ural and sweeper T 215 arrived to Hanko and they returned with 4 600 men.

Small parties of small vessels continued evacuation until it was time to empty the base totally. The last convoy had two destroyers, eight T-class sweepers, gunboats and MO-boats. Large passenger ship Josif Stalin and s/s Maja would take most of the remaining 12 000 men. Finnish units attacked ships sailing to Hanko, without results. The last operation of the Baltic Red Fleet in 1941 began 2.12, when the convoy sailed from Hanko. At midnight the convoys were in Porkkala level and mines began to explode and coastal artillery shells to fall. Vetehinen made a surface attack without results. Josif Stalin with 6 000 men was not able to follow in the narrow sweeped channel and at Porkkala level it was hit by four mines. The ship began to drift southwards and was stranded at Suurop (Suuruppi) on the Estonian coast two days later with 2 000 survivors on board.

Sailing in the mine infested waters was dangerous. Baltic Red Fleet lost destroyers Smetlivyi, Surovyi and Gordyi, minesweepers T 203 and T 206, submarines L 2 and M 98, passenger ships Josif Stalin and Andrei Zdanov, and several smaller vessels. About 23 000 men were transported to Leningrad, but 5 000 men were lost.

This page is maintained by Jari Aromaa.
Last modified 15.7.2009.