STOCKHOLM — After a decade-long search, a team of Baltic Sea divers has discovered the wreckage of a Soviet submarine that sank with dozens of sailors aboard during World War II, one of the divers said Tuesday.
They found the S-2 submarine near the Aland Islands between Sweden and Finland in February but only announced it Tuesday because they wanted to confirm the identity of the vessel, team member Marten Zetterstrom said.
He said all 50 crew members died when the vessel exploded in 1940, probably after hitting a mine. He declined to give the exact location.
"I think it's been 10 years since people started searching. I've been part of it for four-five years," Zetterstrom said.
Markus Lindholm, an Aland-based expert who studied pictures of the wreck, said the claim appeared to be true.
"According to all available sources no other submarine has sunk in those waters," said Lindholm, curator of maritime archaeology at Finland's National Board of Antiquities.
The submarine was last spotted at surface level by a lighthouse keeper on the Market island, west of the Aland archipelago, Lindholm said. He said the keeper's notes of the incident have been preserved and describe how the vessel headed north before diving and entering a Finnish minefield, after which an explosion was heard.
Lindholm said pictures showed the front of the submarine was missing, apparently torn off by an explosion.
"The mine must have hit the submarine hull near the torpedo tubes and then the whole thing blew up," he said.
Zetterstrom said the divers had informed Swedish and Russian authorities about the discovery.
Swedish Defense Ministry spokesman Mikael Ostlund said the ministry had not had a chance to confirm the claim.
Anatoly Kargapolov, a spokesman at the Russian Embassy in Stockholm, confirmed that the embassy had been informed about the submarine but added that there had not been "any official reaction from Moscow."
Associated Press Writer Malin Rising contributed to this report.