Small boys often choose cars or trucks to be their favorite toys. The first drawing Mikhail Ivanov ever did was a submarine. Wrecks have been Mikhail’s passion ever since. As the early drawing suggested, he is especially interested in submersible war machines lost in the fog of war.
Finding wrecks and recreating their histories is Mikhail’s specialty. Despite his young age, Mikhail has years of research behind him. He has located tens of wrecks, most often with the help of Finnish, Russian and German archives.
“I consider diving season a disappointment if I’m not able to find even one of the still missing WWI and WWII submarines”, Mikhail summarizes his goals. Other ships found are just a bonus to this submarine hunter.
Mikhail is a familiar member on many Finnish and Russian expeditions on the Gulf of Finland. His presence is appreciated as it is not unusual for the search party to go out to the sea just to find the wreck exactly on the spot pointed by Mikhail.
Finding previously undiscovered wrecks is hard and time consuming work. Mikhail has sat numerous hours in archives, travelling constantly between Finland and Russia. He has collected all details in a database that is his seemingly bottomless source for new findings.
A good example of Mikhail’s methods is the Divers of the Dark webisode about Sch-311 Kumzha. It tells a story about how Mikhail researched and spotted one of the lost Russian submarines of WWII.
In 2013 Mikhail was involved with the finding of famous 19th century Imperial Russian Navy warship Lefort, which was located in eastern Gulf of Finland. Lefort sunk in 1857, with the loss of all the 826 people on board, making it the second worst peacetime disaster in Baltic Sea.
Mikhail has been diving since 2003. He switched from open circuit to rebreather in 2009. Nowadays he works as an engineer in energy industry in St Petersburg.
A son was born to Mikhail and his wife in September 2014. A proud father already has plans for his off-spring.
“There are over 20 submarine wrecks in the Barents Sea, between Nordkapp and Varanger. The average depth is 150-200. I have all archive material already collected and analyzed. That will be my legacy: In a couple of years, my boy can throw the rebreather on his back and start diving those wrecks.”
Watch the story of Sch-311. Narration in English with subtitles in Russian.