Swedish Ship Vasa Finally Finds Glory

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Vasa mid weatherdeck

The Vasa (Source Wiki commons)

50 years ago the Swedish warship Vasa was salvaged from the bottom of the Baltic sea where it had rested for over 300 years after it’s untimely and somewhat undignified end.

It is now housed in a special museum built over an old dry dock and is now the most visited maritime museum in the world with 30 million visitors in 20 years, the 30 millionth customer, American Kristine Herb walked through the doors of the museum at 13:08 on the 26th of April and was greeted with flowers, a book and an exclusive tour of the Vasa.

The Vasa was built between 1626 and 1628, her statistics were: Weight 1200 tonnes, Length 69m, Beam 11.7m, Height 52.5m and Draft of 4.8m. For propulsion the Vasa had 1275 square metres of sails.

On her maiden voyage on the 10th of August 1628 it was already known by many that she was top heavy and not carrying enough ballast however nobody wanted to upset the Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus who was impatient to see her join the Baltic fleet for the 30 years war. Because of this, the Vasa got no more than 1 nautical mile under sail when the wind increased slightly and pushed her over to such an angle that water began entering her gun ports and she soon began to founder and then sank to the bottom of the Baltic where she rested at a depth of 32m. Her bronze guns were later retrieved and there she lay for the next 300 years.

Fast forward to 1956 when a patient and determined navy engineer, Anders Franzen, searching for the Vasa amongst what archaeologists suspect is the wreckage of more than 100,000 ships on the ocean floor, pulled up a plug of blackened oak from a depth of 30m using a special core sampler. He had just discovered the Vasa.

After pulling up the plug of oak, diver Per Edvin descended to the dark bottom and quickly contacted Franzen by radio “I can’t see anything since it’s pitch dark here, but I can feel something big, the side of a ship. Here is one gun port and here’s another, there are two rows, it must be the Vasa!”

Teredo worms are the main reason there is so little left of many wooden ships that lay on the ocean floor, however in the cold brackish waters of the Baltic they cannot survive so the Vasa was in excellent condition. Plans were soon underway to bring this magnificent ship to the surface and on the 24th of April 1961 infront of a huge crowd gathered at Stockholm harbour and an estimated 100 million people following the event on radio and television the Vasa was brought to the surface in a feat never before attempted.

If your passion in diving is shipwrecks and underwater archaeology then a visit to the Vasa museum should be near the top of your to do list.

The Vasa-wikicommons-georg-dembowsk-andy-carvin

The Vasa (Source, Wiki commons)

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published on May 6, 2011 by jason
tags: , , , , , , , , category: wreck

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