interview

A l e x M a x M i k h a y l o v

iXplorer-ocean research

The treasure hunting for old drinkable wine is a very special hunt, which leads to get not just gold or diamonds as a treasure, but the swallow of the history.

The times, when different teams of treasure hunters have been trying to find the cognac, was full of adventure, risk and competition.

It started in 1999, when Peter Lindberg, the famous salvager of the champagne from the shipwreck « Jonkoping » (named later as « The Champagne Wreck ») decided to find more valuable ancient alcohol on the bottom of murky cold waters of Baltic Sea.

It was long before divers and underwater robots (ROV) could be able to investigate shipwrecks. S/S Kyros was completely covered by troll fish nets and it was a huge risk to loose ROVs or divers in such an extreme dangerous condition with depth of 77 meters of grim water with almost no visibility.

It became more efficient, when iXplorer with its vessel «12» joined Peter Lindberg in 2014. From 2014 to 2019, we had a lot of expeditions to the shipwreck digging in the main cargo hole with the target to reach the boxes with cognac…
Actually, the cognac was waiting for us in an another cargo compartment, till the salvage vessel «Deep Sea Worker», under command of the famous treasure hunter Sverker Hallstrom, came to the spot in October 2019 and brought to the surface the first buzz of cognac and Benedictine.

The method used to save the treasure, was a bit brutal and could damage the bottles. That’s why the smart decision to interrupt the search was ordered and iXplorer divers went later down below to pick up by hand the rest of the bottles. That was an extremely complicated operation, when the divers had to work on the depth of 77 meters with NO visibility and the water temperature was between 1 to 3 degrees Celsius all the way down and up.
There was 50 boxes of 12 bottles of Cognac and 15 boxes of Benedictine.
Many bottles were spoiled. The corks, because of almost 9 Bar ambient sea-water pressure, were squeezed inside the bottles and only the ones, filled up with cognac to the cork, survived, and are drinkable today.

The printing on the capsules, corks and wooden boxes allowed us to identify the Cognac brand as being De Haartman Cognac that was shipped to its final destination, namely The Tsar of Russia Nikolas II. It was obviously the last order of Cognac to the Imperial Court as Nikolas II resigned on the 17th of March 1917 and the ship sunk on 19th of May 1917.

The high quality of the capsule with cognac name on them and on the corks, bottles and even the boxes proved again that this unique alcohol has been on the way to The Emperor of Russia, Nikolas II. The drama of this story is, that at the time of the sinking of the ship, Nikolas II already resigned as the The Russian Tsar… He resigned on 17th of March 1917. The alcohol was ordered in Autumn 1916. So, it was really the last shipment of alcohol to The Russian Tsar. The delivery to the ship happened on December 1916, but the winter was extremely cold. The Baltic sea was frozen and the ship had to stay in port. S/S «Kyros» tried to reach Raumo in May 1917, but the ice fields in the middle of Botnia Bay did not allow them to do this. Many other ships where also waiting in line for the ice to melt. All those ships became an easy target for U-Boat UC-58 under the command of Karl Vesper. Any cargo on board of a vessel related somehow to a war supply content could be treated as military cargo or supply to the enemy.
The orders to U-Boat in 1917 where very clear… « sink any ships with suspicious cargo that could benefit the enemy ». SS “Kyros” was loaded with cargo treated as military… nobody cared about cognac… The ship was sunk as well as several other ships waiting close to SS “Kyros”.

For over 100 years this fine alcohol has been « stored » in the full dark, gloomy cold and deep waters of Baltic sea.

step by step

The search and recovery of S/S "Kyros" sunken cargo

The Swedish company “Ocean X Team” AB and the Icelandic company “iXplorer“ this time worked on a specially equipped research vessel “Deepsea Worker” and salvaged the bottles of the cognac “De Haartman & Co” and the famous liquor “Benedictine” (now the brand belongs to Bacardi) with depths of 77 meters in the international waters of the Gulf of Bothnia.

The importance of this discovery and salvage of the artifacts cannot be overestimated, because this is not only the finding of rare cognac and liquor, but also a part of the history of the year 1917, when the whole world collapsed.

1999

Swedish shipwreck explorer Peter Lindberg located s/s “Kyros” as well as several other shipwrecks sunk by UC 58, but did not have the possibility to explore them.

2014

Than in 2014 the shipwreck of s/s « Kyros » discovered by research and salvage vessel MY « 12 » of iXplorer wit the leadership of Peter Lindberg.

2014 - 2015​

The 6 tons of fish-nets recovered from the shipwreck and divers and ROV spend a lot of hours trying to locate the cognac boxes in the cargo compartments of s/s Kyros.

2017 - 2018 - 2019​

Several expedition on the research vessel « Blackan » and M22 done with the same aim to figure out where is the precious cargo located on the shipwreck.
Many hours divers spend on the wreck searching and digging in the central cargo compartment.

October 2019​

The salvage vessel of Sverker Hallstrom « DeepSea Worker » came to the shipwreck with mutual team of Ocean X AB and iXplorer ehf.
A lot of bottles been recovered.

2020 - 2021

The rest of the bottles recovered by iXplorer Dive Team during several expeditions to the shipwreck of s/s « Kyros ».