A squadron of British light cruisers operated actively in the Baltic Sea during the Estonian War of Independence (1918-1920). They mainly helped the Republic of Estonia fight against Soviet Russia. The Baltic Sea was also the most mined maritime area in the world. The UK sent six minesweepers (Daphne, Gentian, Godetia, Lilac, Lupin and Myrtle) to the Baltic Sea. The minesweepers were ordered to clear the fairways west of the islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa. The fleet started the minesweeping operation on 14 July 1919.
Minesweeper HMS Myrtle hit a mine on the next day in a German minefield near Harilaid and sank to the bottom. Out of 79 crewmembers 6 were killed: stokers John Amey, Alexander Birch and Arthur Primmett, carpenter Robert Johnson and engineers James Gillies and Thomas Packman.
Data about the wreck
Location: Baltic Sea, northwest of Saaremaa
Coordinates: 58° 35.350; 21° 46.161
Depth of wreck: 28 metres
Depth of surrounding area: 34 metres
Dimensions of wreck: length 76 metres, breadth 10 metres.
Dimensions of the original vessel: 81.6 x 10.2 x 3.5 m
Displacement: 1250 tons
Orientation of the wreck: 68-248.
Armament: 2 x 1-102 mm guns (located in the bow and stern of the upper deck, 50 shells for each gun); 1 x 1-47 mm gun.
Cultural monument reg. no. 22265, register.muinas.ee
Diving is permitted only under the instruction of a licensed business operator or with a diving permit from the National Heritage Board of Estonia.
Status: The ship broke in half as a result of an explosion, the stern section of the ship has survived, the bow of the ship sank approximately 8 kilometres west-southwest of the stern. The wreck lies on its straight keel on the bottom of the sea. A memorial plaque with the ship’s name, an image of the flag of the Royal Navy and the date of the shipwreck was placed on the deck of the ship in 2000.
Suitable for experienced divers. During the navigation season there is an anchor buoy placed next to the wreck and information boards have been placed on either side of the wreck.