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"Not all who wander are lost." -- J.R.R. Tolkien

388--Sweden (Svierge):The sinking of the warship Vasa
@ Site News     Jul 04 2007 - 12:06 PST
cherie writes: The 17th century warship Vasa was removed from the depths of Stockholm’s harbor in 1961. The only intact ship of her kind, the Vasa now has her own museum dedicated to telling the remarkable story of her dramatic sinking on her maiden voyage.

The Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus ordered the Vasa warship to be built in 1625. With an armament of 64-guns the Vasa could hold a crew of 445 men. With a total length of 69 meters (including the bow-sprit) the Warship Vasa must have been a sight to see when she was first splashed on August 10, 1628.

After the Vasa fired a salute to the cheering spectators, she heeled to a gust of wind. Water gushed into the open gunports and in a matter of minutes, the Vasa sank. An estimated 30 to 50 passengers died when she sank; twenty-five skeletons were found when the ship was salvaged in 1961. The Vasamuseet (Vasa Museum) is Sweden’s most popular museum.

The Vasa was built by a Dutch shipbuilder named Henrik Hybertsson, who died about a year before the ship was completed. Hybertsson’s brother and partner Arendt de Groot took over and finished the warship in 1628. About 150 people were on board for her maiden voyage.

Some blamed the ship’s sinking on poor proportions. One legend says that the King ordered an additional row of gun-decks, but the proportions of the ship were never changed to handle this additional weight. Others say the gun-ports were too low and should have been closed.

Most agree that the primary reason the Vasa sank was that there wasn’t enough ballast to balance the weight of the guns. Whatever the reasons the Vasa capsized, the ship’s captain Söfring Hansson was arrested, but never found guilty.

Click on each picture to see it full size.

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The Vasa is a 17th century warship that sank on her maiden voyage on August 10, 1628.

The Vasa is a 17th century warship that sank on her maiden voyage on August 10, 1628.

Many believe that the ship's gunports contributed to the sinking of the Vasa.  Specifically that the gunports were placed too low and that they were open during the maiden voyage.

Many believe that the ship's gunports contributed to the sinking of the Vasa. Specifically that the gunports were placed too low and that they were open during the maiden voyage.

The Vasa was adorned with numerous carvings that are still in remarkable condition.

The Vasa was adorned with numerous carvings that are still in remarkable condition.

These statues were repainted to give the viewer and idea of how colorful the ship was in 1628.

These statues were repainted to give the viewer and idea of how colorful the ship was in 1628.

Six of the Vasa’s ten sails have been preserved—they are the oldest surviving sails in the world.

Six of the Vasa’s ten sails have been preserved—they are the oldest surviving sails in the world.

The stern of the Vasa is incredibly high.  High sterns made good platforms to firing down at enemy ships.

The stern of the Vasa is incredibly high. High sterns made good platforms to firing down at enemy ships.

Today most scholars agree that the primary reasons that the Vasa sank was that there wasn’t enough ballast to balance the weight of the guns and the ship was too narrow.

Today most scholars agree that the primary reasons that the Vasa sank was that there wasn’t enough ballast to balance the weight of the guns and the ship was too narrow.

Tourists admire a replica of the warship Vasa complete with her sails.

Tourists admire a replica of the warship Vasa complete with her sails.

Detail of a carving on the Vasa.  The Vasa was built by a Dutch shipbuilder named Henrik Hybertsson.

Detail of a carving on the Vasa. The Vasa was built by a Dutch shipbuilder named Henrik Hybertsson.

About 150 people were on board for the Vasa's maiden voyage--30 to 50 died when she sank. (Notice the person on the balcony to get a perspective on the size of the ship.)

About 150 people were on board for the Vasa's maiden voyage--30 to 50 died when she sank. (Notice the person on the balcony to get a perspective on the size of the ship.)

From drawings of the warship, artists recreated what the original colors of the Vasa might have looked like.

From drawings of the warship, artists recreated what the original colors of the Vasa might have looked like.

A detail of the Vasa's stern.

A detail of the Vasa's stern.

Whatever the reasons the Vasa capsized, the ship’s captain Söfring Hansson was arrested, but never found guilty.

Whatever the reasons the Vasa capsized, the ship’s captain Söfring Hansson was arrested, but never found guilty.

Including the bow-sprit, the Vasa measures an incredible 69-meters.

Including the bow-sprit, the Vasa measures an incredible 69-meters.

Detail of the Vasa's open gunports.

Detail of the Vasa's open gunports.

In all her color and glory, the Warship Vasa must have been a sight to see when she sank on August 10, 1628.

In all her color and glory, the Warship Vasa must have been a sight to see when she sank on August 10, 1628.

She's got a mighty stern.

She's got a mighty stern.

The Vasa is the only 17th century warship in the world that is still intact.

The Vasa is the only 17th century warship in the world that is still intact.