The submerged Russian destroyer “Lieutenant Pushchin” was found in Bulgarian waters

The scientific submarine expedition with the participation of the Naval Forces, diving club Friends & Diving, , the Naval museum and the Institute of oceanology at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences determined that the ship remains at the sea bottom East of cape Ilandjik belong to the submerged during the First World War Russian destroyer „Lieutenant Pushchin”.

The initial localization was done on the basis of data from the Institute of oceanology. Members of the diving club Friends & Diving (Stoyan Stoyanov - Toni, Vladimir Jivkov, Miroslav Apostolov, Emil Kaikamdjozov, Valentin Lupov, Ivan Ivanov) were the first ones interested in the unknown object from the sonogram. Once they determined that it was a battleship, they got in touch with the Naval museum, whose authorities respectively addressed the Chief of Staff of the Naval Forces.

The necessity of quick measures was provoked by several circumstances: the historical value of the ship, which could be determined only after in situ survey; the damage which could have been caused by submarine treasure-hunters; the danger which an unknown battleship could be, being obviously loaded with its present armament and ammunitions.

After some hesitations and suppositions about the type of the ship and the causes for its plunge gradually the idea that this is the submerged on 25th February 1916 by Bulgarian mining barrage Russian destroyer „Lieutenant Pushchin” was formed. To survey the ship couple few-days expeditions were organized in August and September with participation of divers and ships from the division for submarine operations of Naval basis Varna, the divers of Friends & Diving, representatives of the Naval museum. The submarine activities were accomplished under the guidance of chief of the division captain І class Kamen Kukurov, and as a consultant of the historical surveys captain ІІ class PhD Atanas Panayotov was invited.

The ship is broken in two and it lies at 33 m. depth. The bigger part of the stern was better investigated and near to it different objects were discovered such as torpedo target, navigation light, carabine bullets, torn off hatch, shell cartridge. The analysis of those objects has essentially facilitated the identification of the ship. However, the resolute step in this direction was the identification of the stern canon as identical with the 75 mm gun, the one in armament on the destroyer „Lieutenant Pushchin”. The prow part was found during the last but one day of the expedition due to the fact that the keel was turned up so the prow was not easy to access. It was right there, however, where the unconditional answer to the question „Which is this ship?” was found. The plate with the name of the ship – the one of a Russian officer, was read and digitalized by video camera, so all doubts drop off.

The ship remains discovered at the sea bottom confirmed the history about the end of the Russian destroyer „Lieutenant Pushchin”. All the unknown data about its location drop off; it was determined although relatively the scale of its damage.

At the press conference for the announcement of the expedition’s results the Chief of Staff of the Naval Forces rear admiral Plamen Manushev declared that since the ship is identified, the Russian authorities will be notified through the diplomatic channels, and a collaborative ceremony to honor the memory of the perished will be organized.

The objects that were brought out from the sea bottom along with the 75 mm gun were entrusted to the Naval museum. After the necessary restoration and rehabilitation works the gun will become a part of it exposition.

The Naval museum expresses it sincere gratitude to:

- The Chief of Naval Forces rear admiral Pl. Manushev for the organization and efficiency;
- All the divers – participants in the expeditions for their professionalism;
- Ivan Genov Ivanov, manager of „Hidroremont” Ltd., who helped us with the technical support of the expedition.

About the destroyer „Lieutenant Pushchin”

It was launched in November 1904 in the Black sea city Nikolaev (now in Ukraine) and came into service in August 1907. On 26th March 1907 its initial name „Zadornai” was changed to „Lieutenant Pushchin” (in Russian – Pushtin). Lieutenant Leonid P. Pushchin was a naval officer, participant in the Russian – Turkish war (1877-1878).

In September 1907 the ship was classified as a destroyer. In the period 1910 – 1912 „Lieutenant Pushchin” was entirely rehabilitated and its artillery and steam generators were renovated.

Yet during the first day of the First World War the ship came into battle with the Turkish-German battleship „Gyoben” and suffered severe damages. It was rehabilitated to enter the artillery support of the Russian troops at the Caucasian front and participated in battles near the Bulgarian Black sea coastal lines. During one of the battles, on 25th February 1916 it hit a Bulgarian mine. As a result of the blast it hull was broken in two and plunged. The sailors who survived the blast reached the Bulgarian shore with two boats and were held in captivity. The destroyer sailing right after „Lieutenant Pushchin” – „Jivoy” quickly abandoned the position and reported in Sevastopol that the ships were attacked by German submarines.

After the plunge of „Lieutenant Pushchin” ten Bulgarian officers were rewarded with military decorations for the successful implementation of the mining barrage, which destroyed the ship. Historians consider the plunge of „Lieutenant Pushchin” as the second Bulgarian naval victory after the successful attack of the torpedo boat „Drazki” against the Turkish cruiser „Hamidie” on the 8th November 1912.

„Lieutenant Pushchin” displaces 450 tons of water, it is armed with two 75-mm guns, four 7,62 mm machine-guns, two torpedoes and 18 mines. Two steam generators of 5500 horsepower allow it to reach a velocity of 24 knots.

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