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'New Vasa' shipwreck found on Baltic seabed

'New Vasa' shipwreck found on Baltic seabed

Published: 19 Aug 2011 14:13 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Aug 2011 14:13 GMT+02:00

Swedish divers have uncovered what they believe to be the legendary Swedish warship Mars, lost in a sea battle with the Danish-Lübeckian navy in 1564, near the coast of the Baltic island of Öland.

“The ship is lying port-side up and the site is virtually littered with cannons," said diver Richard Lundgren to The Local.

Mars was one of the largest ships of its time with 107 guns and a crew of 800 men, both out-sizing and outgunning the famous warship Vasa, which has been on show in Stockholm since it was lifted from city's harbour in the 1960s.

Divers have been searching for the legendary Mars for decades. And on Friday it was announced that it might have been found.

“We certainly don’t know of any other ships sinking near those coordinates,” said Andreas Olsson, head archaeologist at the Royal Swedish Maritime museum (Sjöhistoriska muséet).

The shipwreck was discovered at a depth of 75 metres, near the northern promontory of the Baltic island of Öland off of Sweden's east coast. The wreckage is reportedly solid oak and the seabed is strewn with bronze cannons.

The Mars was the largest ship in the Baltic in its heyday and was sunk, only a year after its maiden voyage, during a sea battle with the Danish-Lübeckian navy in 1564.

After two days of ferocious fighting, Mars was hit by cannon fire and went up in smoke. In the ensuing kerfuffle the vessel went down and has been resting untouched in its watery grave for 447 years.

According to Olsson, everything is pointing to it being Mars that the divers have come across. However, archaeologists can’t be completely sure until they have examined the shipwreck.

“If this is the Mars it is a truly significant find. When it comes to maritime history it really can be seen as the ‘missing link’ in the chain of what we know of historic shipbuilding – somewhere between our Swedish Vasa and the English Mary Rose,” said Olsson.

According to Olsson, the next step is to investigate the wreckage site thoroughly. The decision as to whether a complete salvage operation should be carried out is a question for the future, Olsson said

For wreck-diver Lundgren, finding the lost Mars would be like a boyhood dream come true.

“To discover a shipwreck is the dream of all divers, but to find Mars, which people have been searching for so long - it couldn’t get bigger than that. I am happy to be Swedish today!” he told The Local.

Rebecca Martin (rebecca.martin@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:50 August 19, 2011 by Svensksmith
The ensuing kerfuffle...hahaha, gotta love it!
14:56 August 19, 2011 by engagebrain
English as a third language ?

The ship is clearly not 'mythical' and 'kerfuffle' does not really cover the chaos of a ship sinking while hundreds drown.

But interesting nontheless.
15:41 August 19, 2011 by canuk
the professionalism of the local and their ability to screw up even the simpliest of sories makes me wonder why i applied for a position as a writer there. i was emailed and told that i didnt have much writing experience. hahahhahah
15:52 August 19, 2011 by Nemesis
To the local. Please stop using google translate.

The ship is not mythical if it was real, built and took part in a battle with another navy.

@ canuk

Fluency in English would disbar you from a job in the Local.
16:22 August 19, 2011 by canuk
ha! i just noticed i spelled stories wrong in my post, anyways....
17:18 August 19, 2011 by jamesblish
From Aftonbladet video: "Mars... also referred to as 'The Magnificent' or 'The Dane Hater'..." Best name ever.
19:43 August 19, 2011 by munched
Are the writers at The Local english-speaking as in mother-tongue english-speaking or are they Swedes with an English speaking parent? Or perhaps just Swedes that think they speak English? I don't mean to be insulting, I really am curious.
19:54 August 19, 2011 by jamesblish
Why don't you email them and ask instead of writing it in a comment? I'm all for criticizing people when they deserve it but a spelling mistake etc. is not the end of the world.
22:22 August 19, 2011 by treasurechasers
Congrats on a nice find...

http://www.treasurechasers.com
04:54 August 21, 2011 by Smiling Canuk
How is scuba diving in the Baltic? I've always been under the impression that the visibility is not the greatest, but the photo looks very clear. I used to do a lot of cold water/low visibility wreck diving in the Great Lakes but nowadays only want to dive in tropical waters.
02:42 August 23, 2011 by Tanskalainen
I am scratching my kerfuffle right now! (feels good)
23:02 August 23, 2011 by bella2202
I believe the wreck could be correctly described as mythical...it's existence is widely held to be true but as yet unproven. This is an exciting find for maritime archaelogy...
23:53 August 24, 2011 by Smallnose
Why can't we leave those ships on the bottom of the sea, it only revives the embarrassing navy history.

It reminds of those Danish jokes:

How do you sink a Swedish battleship?

- Put it in the water.

Why do the NEW Swedish Navy vessels have glass bottoms?

- To see the old Swedish Navy.

Why does the NATO classify the full Swedish Navy as submarine class?

- All the Swedish vessels are on the bottom of the sea.
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