Underwater archaeologists have discovered a historic vessel off the coast of southern Sweden which is similar in construction to the famous Vasa, the ornate 17th-century warship on display in a dedicated museum in Stockholm.
Around 45m in length with 68-70 cannons, experts from the Sjöhistoriska Museet believe the ship is the Blekinge, which was built in 1682 – the first ever constructed in Karlskrona, the largest base of the modern Swedish Navy – as part of the Swedish fleet to combat the Danes and Russians in the Great Northern War (1700-1721). The warship served the Swedish Empire for two decades before sinking where it was first constructed, possibly in an attempt to create a strategic cannon barge during King Karl XII’s disastrous campaign against the Russians.
While part of the ship appears to have been flattened by the construction of a stone pier at the shipyard site, the lower decks may be well-preserved in deep layers of sediment. Researchers hope that future excavations will reveal new information, and many artefacts, from this crucial period in Swedish history.
Text: Nicholas Bartos
Images: Jim Hansson/ Sjöhistoriska museet; Statens maritima museer