It looks like tremendous luck. But in real life, this “luck” was based on two facts. First, the professionalism and courage of the personnel. And, secondly, the exceptional survivability of a small ship, thanks to its competent design and the materials used.
As it sometimes happens, boats of the MO series with a displacement of about 50 tons were projected on an initiative basis at the OGPU Marine Shipyard. For the sake of truth, it should be noted that the design of “small hunters” (they started to be called officially) went independently from different design bureaus, but as a result, mass production started in 1934 just at the OGPU Leningrad shipyards (1934 was the last year for this structure). In the new patrol boat tried to meet all the requirements of the management of the Navy and the control of the frontier. The ship was supposed to perform the tasks of hunting for submarines, guarding the state border, have high seaworthiness, powerful enough weapons, and also be compact enough to transport it by rail.
In the course of the development of the project and the “running-in” of it into practice, a new type of small hunter, MO-4, appeared. At MO-4, the width (3,9 m) and length (26,9 m) of the hull increased, but the board decreased by 10 cm. The case was wooden - a three-layer sheathing with percale gaskets (a high-strength fabric used since 19th century on navy) At the same time, the hull was divided into 9 compartments by watertight bulkheads, which affected the “luckiness” of SKA-065, which was stitched almost through, but was not about to sink to the teeth grinding of the Nazis.
One of the hunters who reached the base on their own, thanks to the high survivability of the ship
The power plant consisted of 3-x gasoline engines GAM-34BS, allowing boats to give speeds up to 27 nodes. The war, however, made adjustments. The fleet demanded more and more boats, and, despite the difficult wartime, domestic factories built the 74 ship. But due to the shortage of various components, including engines, the boats were also equipped with engines of other brands and power, which had a negative effect on the speed of travel.
21-K guns and their modification on the right 21-KM, raised from the bottom of the Black Sea. Exhibited in the museum of military equipment in Novorossiysk
Armament for this size was quite powerful. The armament consisted of two 45-mm 21-K guns (later they began to install 21-KM), two machine guns — initially “Maxim” machine gun, and from 1938, the DShK machine gun. Also, the boats were equipped with bombers in the stern and the presence of depth bombs BB-1 and BM-1. The hunters for staging the chimney hood had smoke bombs of MDSh installed in the baskets directly above the bomb emitters.
Stern of a small hunter - you can see the dummies, and below them depth charges
Of course, during the war, and even before, they tried to strengthen weapons in various ways. For example, anti-aircraft 20 mm Oerlikon or 25 mm 84-KM anti-aircraft guns were installed. This was a necessary necessity, since the enemy brought significant damage to the boats aviation. Not even without the burning desire of the authorities to increase the artillery power of the ship. It got to the point that a 76 mm gun was installed on the prototype. This raised the displacement from 54 standard tons to the 61st, and tests showed that seaworthiness decreased significantly to such an extent that the slightest crew error with a sea wave of 7 points would easily overturn the ship. As a result, the idea with a 76-mm gun was abandoned.
Machine gun DShK MO-4
In March, 1943, Pavel Sivenko, having received the next order of the command of the Tuapse naval base formed in 1941, hurried to his sea hunter SKA-065, who was part of the 5 division of patrol boats OVR TVMB. The bridgehead "Malaya Zemlya" in Novorossiysk demanded a constant supply, which went through several "branches" - one from Tuapse to Gelendzhik, and the other from Gelendzhik to the bridgehead. Pavel, who by that time had barely knocked 23 of the year, was to become this branch.
The order was to escort the transport "Achilleon" with valuable cargo safe and sound. Paul was well aware that the task even close does not seem easy, or at least routine. The Germans tried desperately to sink any, even the smallest supply convoy. In addition, the only transport worker under the name “Achilleon”, which the author managed to find, was an Austrian-built steam-schooner of Austrian production 1869 of the year with a speed of 7 nodes.
Photo and model of transport "Achilleon"
Further, some information sources differ somewhat in the data, without giving explanations. First, the date of the famous battle in the award list of one of the foremen of the boat - 23 of March, when 25 is categorically stated as in other sources. This can be explained by the fact that in the award list there is the date of leaving Tuapse, and if you throw in travel time during the rough seas, various force majeure circumstances and so on, the battle took place on 25. Secondly, various sources also argue with each other on which segment of the path and where the little hunter moved when he accepted the battle - he was going from “Little Earth” to Gelendzhik, unloaded in Gelendzhik itself and already accompanied “Achilleon” back to Tuapse or it was completely attacked before arriving in Gelendzhik. However, according to again the award lists and, alas, reports of irretrievable losses, after the battle SKA-065 still went to Gelendzhik.
In fact, the boat was attacked almost throughout the entire transition. And it got SKA-065 from dozens of U-87, and from German torpedo shnellbots. However, it was the shnellboats who did not constitute a big threat to the convoy. Pavel Sivenko, graduated from the Black Sea Higher Naval School named after PS. Nakhimov and accumulated considerable experience of service for the 2 of the war year, tore off all the calls of boats on the torpedo attack "Achilleon". As a result, putting the smoke curtain, took the transport from the threat. Moreover, the torpedo boats of the Nazis were afraid to come close to the shore because of coastal batteries, they also feared retaliation of our fleet, and therefore acted with swift, rapid raids with the same rapid withdrawal.
But after meeting with torpedo boats, it is time to meet with the Luftwaffe. Naturally, Commander Sivenko, was expecting this meeting, but even he could not assume that their tiny convoy could attack so many dive-bombers Ju-87. According to various sources, the sea hunter and its transporter collapsed from 30 to 50 combat vehicles.
Ju-87 over the sea waves
The hunter constantly maneuvered, desperately snarling with machine-gun fire to shoot down the bombers entering the combat course and prevent them from dropping bombs on the transport ship. But no matter how the boat spins, almost all the crew members were injured. Suddenly, it became clear that the Germans, frenzied by such persistence of a small hunter, had already forgotten about the transport and pounced on the boat with all their might.
The boat just showered with large and small fragments. The entire calculation of the nasal instrument — foreman 1 of the article Stepan Sklyar, Grigoriev and Perevoznik — were injured of varying degrees of severity, but they did not stop the fire. Boatsman Daniel Antonenko continued to work on the goal of his DShK, even when he was wounded in both hands. Seeing how the flag halyard had broken, and the banner of a small but very proud hunter fluttered with a simple rag, the sailor of the Basil Potapov, already being wounded, re-connected the halyard and the banner of the boat so that the enemy could see with whom he leads the war.
Despite the blood-filled deck and a shower of splinters and bullets, steering officer 2 of the article Pavel Zhovan managed to keep his composure and in this crimson ballet he clearly executed Sivenko's orders for maneuvering and avoiding air bombs.
Foreman 2 articles from the first minutes of the battle, Grigory Kuropyatnikov did not let go of the machine gun. This did not change even when Grisha literally cut off his left arm above the elbow with a large fragment, and small fragments cut his head and chest. He continued to fire with his right hand, until he noticed that the next enemy hail at the stern lit up dwarfs, and they were located directly above the already battered battle depth charges. Kuropyatnikov rushed to the stern and, as it was written in black and white in the award list, he had a bite to eat the end with which he received smoke cups. Thus, Gregory saved the ship from destruction.
Seeing Kuropyatnikov trying to push the dummies overboard, his place at the machine gun was taken by the assistant commander, Lieutenant Jacob Mazler. Already seriously injured, Yakov led machine-gun fire until he received the last fatal wound. He died in Gelendzhik hospital from 26 wounds in March 1943. For this death, the Nazis paid two dive bombers (respectively 2-me pilots and arrows), but most importantly could not put on the bottom of a valuable cargo, intended for the bridgehead "Malaya Zemlya".
The riddled boat, and the transport worker protected by it, finally arrived in Gelendzhik (then the Novorossiysk naval base was located there), when our planes arrived to help. The SKA-065 seemed about to sink, giving the 15-degree trim to the nose and burrowing into the wave. The left engine is gloch, the stem has been broken, the wheelhouse has been displaced, the left hull cheekbone has been destroyed, multiple pipelines have been broken through, etc. According to some information, about 200 holes were counted, according to other whole 1600, it is possible, taking into account small fragmental damage and other things, since the boat, as already indicated, showered with a real hail of deadly metal. Only seriously wounded remained in Gelendzhik, and the hunter himself was patched up, putting temporary “patches”, and he set off on his own in Tuapse. There SKA-065 has become a full repair.
Pavel Sivenko, cadet photo
All the sailors of this heroic drama, and most of them did not turn out to be not only 30 but also 25 years, were awarded orders and medals. Jacob Mazler was awarded the Order of the Patriotic War I degree posthumously. Grigory Kuropyatnikov became the Hero of the Soviet Union. The commander of the ship, Senior Lieutenant Pavel Sivenko was awarded the Order of the Red Banner. However surprisingly dramatic история how one small hunter fought off a whole flock of vultures, enraged by such perseverance, reached our sworn allies in the United States. In one of the newspapers, the journalist described the Black Sea battle so touchingly that it touched someone in the government. As a result, Pavel was awarded with the medal "For Distinguished Service" in absentia.
Pavel Pavlovich Sivenko
Grigory Kuropyatnikov died in Kirovograd (the Nebrat recently renamed the city Kropivnitsky) in 1982. After the war, Pavel Sivenko moved closer to his alma mater in Sevastopol. He lived a long and decent life, survived the collapse of the Union, for which he fought, the marches of Bandera's shortages in Ukraine ... Pavel Pavlovich died in 2015, at the age of 95 years, as if he was expecting only one thing all the time - reunion with a country that did not forget and did not betray anathema neither his business nor the affairs of his crew SKA-065.