TIP OF THE DAY: Watch a short documentary by photo artist Sanna Kannisto about the creation of bird photos at the Hanko bird station.

The wreck of Pirtu-Veera

Text: Ilkka Rautio

On the dark and rainy evening of October 1957, the motor ship Asa Finn, which was sailing in coal cargo, got lost on the fairway west of Hanko and crashed into the rocks. The mainings of the passing ships rocked the ship and Asa Finn began to fill with water. Captain August Route drove the ship to the nearest shoal where it sank between Lilla and Södra Klippingen. Asa Finn was just one of the names of the ship. During the Prohibition Act, the ship chartered relief for the thirsty from the southern neighbor and it was known by the nickname Pirtu-Veera. The ship was built in 1918 in Norköping, Sweden and was baptized in Wera.

Brantevik Ab was a shipping company owned by Henning Edling from Scania. Edling started shipping company operations in 1916 and his heyday was in the 1920s and 1930s. Henning Edling was a cosmopolitan who belonged to the wealthy elite of Helsingborg and was a familiar sight in clubs and restaurants. 

The motor ship Wera was built in Norköping, Sweden, at the Östersjövarfet shipyard. The shipyard was founded in 1917 and the Wera was the first ship completed at the shipyard. The ship's keel was laid in December 1917, and Wera was launched in June 1918. In October of the same year, the ship was delivered to its customer, Brantevik Shipyard. The construction costs were 527,500 kroner.

Wera probably operates in the waters of the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. During the Prohibition Act, Wera was also a familiar sight in Finland's territorial waters, when it smuggled spirits from its southern neighbor to the thirsty. In February 1932, the ship was carrying potatoes on the route Åhus - West Hartlepool when a fire broke out on the ship. The ship was badly damaged and was moved to the shipyard in Helsingborg. At the same time, the shipping company that owned Wera ran into financial problems. The worldwide great depression that started a few years earlier also slowed down the operations of the shipping companies. The life of shipowner Henning Edling, who was driven into financial difficulties, ended tragically with suicide on the ninth of June in 1932. 

The motor ship Wera was auctioned in 1933 and the new owner was the well-known Åland outfitter Gustaf Erikson. In his time, he was the most successful ship outfitter in Finland.

Gustaf Erikson was primarily known as an outfitter of sailing ships. He criticized the fuel costs of motor ships, stating that wind power is free. However, from the beginning of the 1920s, he also expanded his fleet with motor ships. At that time, in the 1920s, Erikson had the largest private fleet in the Nordic countries and his ships were known around the world. When sailing traffic declined, he was called the world's largest owner of sailing ships.

M/S Wera

  • Length: 46.6 m
  • Width: 8.9 m
  • Carrying capacity: 630 t
  • Year of construction: 1918
  • Shipyard: Östersjövarvet, Sweden
  • Other names: Vera, Asa Fin
  • Discover m/s Wera and other wrecks hylyt.net on the site.

Under Gustaf Erikson's ownership, Wera's name changed to Vera. In the early summer of 1936, Vera received a special assignment. Erikson's flagship and Finland's largest sailing ship Herzog's Cecilie was shipwrecked in the English Channel. Harzog's Cecilie, familiarly called the Duchess, had run aground on the Sewer Mill Sands under the command of Captain Sven Erikson. The motor ship Vera was sent to the scene and managed to transport the captain's saloon and the bald picture to Mariehamn before Herttuattare sank. The shipwreck was big news around the world and contributed to the end of the era of sailing ships.

With Erikson's death in 1947, sailing ships practically completely disappeared from maritime traffic. In that case, Wera was also sold to a new owner, the outfitter Ilmari Tuule. The shipping company he owned had thirty ships, about half of which were steamships. Tuuli had started his own ship equipment in Koivisto at the age of 17 together with his brother.

The motor ship Vera was seen on the big screen in 1953 when the crime film Warsaw Song was filmed on the ship in the waters of Helsinki and Hamburg. In the film directed by Matti Kassila, the border guard stops the cargo ship M/S Vera at night in the Baltic Sea after suspecting that it was involved in smuggling. No evidence is found, but the ship's captain Bear (Åke Lindman) is still under police surveillance. The captain begins to prepare a new smuggling trip to Germany, from which he also brings his mysterious girlfriend Ilsen (Chris Paischeff). A new passenger tightens the atmosphere on board to the extreme. At the time, the film received a mixed reception from critics, but later Varsova's song has been praised, among other things, for its excellent acting and insightful cinematography.

In 1955, Vera was renamed Asa Finn and its new home port became Rauma. In October 1957, Asa Finn sailed the waters of Hanko. It was transporting coal cargo from Szczecin, Poland to Helsinki under the command of Captain August Reit. On a dark and rainy evening at ten o'clock, Asa Finn got lost from the fairway west of Hanko. At Lenaborg, where the channel is narrow and winding, the distance to Klippingar's glory was misjudged and the ship ran aground on the rocks.

It was already completely dark when a tug was called for help. The waves of passing ships rocked the ship and Asa Finn slipped away on the rocks. When the ship filled with water, Captain August Reitti drove the ship to the nearest shallows, where it sank between Lilla and Södra Klippingen. The ship's nine-person crew managed to get the rescue cruiser Isokari to safety on the deck. The coal that was Asa Finn's cargo became unusable after getting wet and the salvage was abandoned.

Today, Asa Finn's wreck is at its deepest at a depth of six meters. There is an archway left of the ship, but the deck has already fallen apart. The bow of the wreck is on the surface and you can explore it by snorkeling.





National Audiovisual Institute

Håkansson, K. (2015) Med döden i kölvattnet : Sjömansliv med segel och ånga.

2 reviews for “Pirtu-Veeran hylky

  1. Jack

    A nice read

  2. An avid wreck diver

    We went to the wreck to film on a boat. An absolutely incredible wreck!

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Listen to the story about the Pirtu-Veera wreck in Finnish.