Laivas Prezidentas Smetona.jpg
History
German Empire
Name: SMS M59
Builder: Deschimag-Werk Seebeck
Launched: October 31, 1917
Fate: sold to Lithuania, 1927
History
Naval Ensign of Lithuania (1927–1940).svgLithuania
Name: Prezidentas Smetona
Namesake: Antanas Smetona, President of Lithuania
Acquired: purchased, 1927
Commissioned: August 2, 1935
Homeport: Klaipėda, later Šventoji
Captured: Seized by the Soviet Union, 1940
History
Naval Ensign of the Soviet Union (1935–1950).svgSoviet Union
Name: Пирмӯнас
Acquired: June 15, 1940
Renamed: Корал
Fate: sunk, January 1945
General characteristics
Class and type: M57-class minesweeper
Displacement: 525–586 tons
Length:
  • 56 m (183 ft 9 in), wl
  • 59.3 m (194 ft 7 in), oa
Beam: 7.4 m (24 ft 3 in)
Draft: 2.2–2.3 m (7 ft 3 in–7 ft 7 in)
Propulsion: 2 Schulz coal-fired boilers
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h)
Complement: 48
Armament:

Lithuanian warship Prezidentas Smetona was the only warship in Lithuanian Navy during the years of the First Republic of Lithuania from 1918 to 1940. It was named after the first President of Lithuania, Antanas Smetona.

Built by Deschimag-Werk Seebeck and launched on October 31, 1917 in Germany, the ship started its career as German minesweeper M59. In 1927 it was purchased by Lithuania for 289,000 litas.[1] It was used to safeguard Lithuanian shores against smugglers and as a training facility for the navy. In 1939–1940 Lithuania ordered more ships, including submarines, from France.[1]

The 525–586-ton Prezidentas Smetona was 60 metres (197 ft) in length and was powered by two Schulz coal-fired boilers providing a top speed of 16 knots. A complement of 48 manned two 3-inch (7.6 cm) guns and three machine-guns. The ship was reconstructed and was officially launched as a warship on August 2, 1935 by captain Antanas Kaškelis.[1]

After the German ultimatum to Lithuania in March 1939, Lithuania lost the port of Klaipėda and Prezidentas Smetona had to be docked in Šventoji.[2]

Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union on June 15, 1940 and the vessel became part of the Soviet Navy. Prezidentas Smetona was renamed first as Пирмӯнас (Pirmūnas, Пирмунас) and later as Корал (Koral). The warship was reconverted to a minesweeper and was sunk in January 1945 when it departed from the port of Helsinki. Circumstances of the sinking are unclear: some claim that it was sunk by German U-745,[3] others argue that it hit a naval mine, or, according to the diary of a German sailor, was hit by a German torpedo.[1]

Estonian researchers had announced several times in the press that they have located the wreckage in the Gulf of Finland.[4]

In 2018, a large original flag of the warship was handed to the Lithuanian Sea Museum by Lithuanian descent collector Henry Gaidis.[5]

References

  1. ^ a b c d Stanišauskas, Gediminas (2007-12-12). "Suomijos įlankos dugne aptiktas "Prezidentas Smetona"" (in Lithuanian). Balsas.lt. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
  2. ^ "Estai rado nuskandintą "Prezidentą Smetoną"". Lietuvos rytas (in Lithuanian). 2007-11-02. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
  3. ^ "T-76 Korall". Ships hit by U-boats. uboat.net. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  4. ^ Nikitenka, Denisas (4 July 2017). "Suomijos įlankoje aptiktas "Prezidentas Smetona"" (in Lithuanian). Lietuvos žinios. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  5. ^ Bikauskaitė, Dalia. "Klaipėdą pasieks unikali Trispalvė". Lzinios.lt. Retrieved 23 August 2018.