The wrecks of Åland

With over 6,000 islands, skerries and countless shoals, the Åland archipelago has been witness to many shipwrecks over the years.

Although the Åland wreck register currently contains about 500 registered wrecks with a verified position, the number of unrecorded wrecks is estimated to be double this. In particular, there are ship cemeteries in the western and southern parts of the Åland archipelago known to have hundreds of shipwrecks from the last 200 years alone.

The diving wrecks of Åland are in good condition

The wrecks of Åland accessible by scuba diving are very well preserved, thanks to the diving legislation that came into force in 1974.

The law stipulates that scuba diving with technical equipment is subject to authorisation by the Provincial Government of Åland. In addition, the law requires that divers who have received diving permits submit a written report of their diving activities to the same official body.

 The best-known Åland wrecks are shown on the map.
A map of Åland’s wrecks.

Special shipwrecks

The Champagne galeas

The so-called “Champagne galeas” wreck is a marine archaeological treasure chest. It is a well-preserved wreck lying on the seabed in Västersundsfjärden south of Föglö Island.

This two-masted sailing ship, believed to be from the early 19th century, now rests at a depth of 20 to 48 metres. The cause and timing of the shipwreck are still unclear.

The dive restrictions on the site came into effect on July 19th, 2010 in order to reduce the risk of robbery and to preserve scientific information about the wreck. A total of 162 bottles of champagne and 5 bottles of beer have been lifted from the wreck.

Champagne bottles and part of the wreck. Underwater view of champagne bottles and part of the wreck.  A beer bottle stands upright on the seabed.

Soviet submarine S-2

On the 3rd of January 1940, the Soviet submarine S-2 sank east of the Finnish Märket Lighthouse. The submarine was full of ammunition and torpedoes.

The diving prohibition on this wreck is a safety measure to ensure public order and safety.

Icebreaker SMS Hindenburg

The SMS Hindenburg was an icebreaker in the German Imperial Navy. It sank in 1918 after colliding with a drifting mine that had become frozen into the pack ice. The wreck lies at a depth of 37 to 47 metres.

A special permit is required to dive this wreck.

Wrecks worth seeing

The sailing barge Nederland

Measuring approximately 35 metres long and 9 metres wide, the schooner Nederland sank on December 18th, 1917 in Marhällan, outside Mariehamn. This ship was from the Netherlands and was carrying hand-carved cobblestones from Lysekil to Gävlen. The wreck now lies at depths ranging from 20 to 24 metres.

The two-masted schooner Planet

The planet was a wooden hulled, two-masted schooner that resembles the schooner Albanus found in the Mariehamn Marine Quarter. The Planet was approximately 25 metres long and was built in 1898 in Ösel. Its home port was registered to Parainen, in the Finnish Archipelago.

The schooner Planet sank in the Rödhamn Archipelago in 1922 and now lies in a very sheltered site on the seabed. The maximum depth of the wreck is 15 metres. Although the wreck is protected from the wind, visibility can be poor due to the clay seabed. Many details are still preserved, such as the wooden anchor windlass, ship's railings, and decking in which the mast holes are visible.

The iron-hulled barque Plus

The three-masted ship Plus was built in 1885 for the well-known Laeisz shipping company at the Blohm & Voss dockyards in Hamburg, Germany. The ship had no engines.

We can get a good idea of what the barque Plus looked like in the past by visiting the slightly larger museum ship Pommern, which can be seen in the Åland Maritime Museum in Mariehamn. On a stormy night in 1933, the Plus sank in only a few minutes near Hertonklobben, southwest of Mariehamn and now lies at a depth of 25 to 37 metres.

The Åland antiquities law protects wrecks

Åland has its own antiquities law that protects wrecks and other ancient remains under water. This law governs scuba diving, which is a licensed activity in Åland.

When diving in the Åland Islands, it is important to remember that you cannot enter into or take anything from the wreckage. The law seeks to keep wrecks intact so that more divers will also be able to visit them in the future.

Åland Island shipwrecks

More information in Swedish

Regeringen: Dyktillstand

Regeringen: Marinarkeologi

Regeringen: Lagstiftning

Regeringen: Ålands lagsamling