Goetheborg III arrives in Stockholm

A newly-built replica of a Swedish 18th century wooden merchant ship that sailed between Sweden and China arrived in Stockholm on Wednesday, ahead of a voyage retracing its old route later this year.

The original, the East Indiaman Goetheborg, sank in 1745 within site of its home port of Gothenburg on Sweden’s west coast after nearly completing its long voyage home from China.

The replica, Goetheborg III, was constructed in Gothenburg entirely using methods believed to have been in use in the 18th century.

The ship arrived in Stockholm on Wednesday under sunny skies, with King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia aboard for its grand entry into the city. The ship docked at Skeppsbron, near the royal palace.

The vessel fired a 21-gun salute as it sailed in, with hordes of onlookers watching from the city’s bridges and docks.

The original Goetheborg set off from Gothenburg for the Swedish East India Company in March 1743, headed for the southeastern Chinese city of Canton.

But as the return voyage concluded on September 12, 1745, the ship, for reasons still unknown, struck an underwater rock as it neared its home port.

Within view of the harbour, and to everyone’s amazement, it sank slowly in shallow waters. While the crew was rescued, almost nine tonnes of chinaware went down to the deep, and was recovered only in the late 1980s by volunteer divers.

A third of the cargo was however salvaged and sold at the time, making the expedition a profitable one anyway.

While shipbuilding techniques from the time have been used to construct the 40-metre (133-feet) long and 10-metre (34-feet) wide vessel, there are however limits to how faithful the replica will be to the original.

This time around, the crew will not have to share space with cattle, and they will enjoy the luxury of showers and toilets.

Other modern amenities on board the new Goetheborg will be water tanks, smoke detectors and even five marine engines donated by the Volvo company of Sweden.

But “almost a whole forest” was used to build the replica, carpenter Lasse Boström told Swedish news agency TT.

The ship is scheduled to visit the Swedish port of Malmö and Copenhagen, Denmark, before returning to Gothenburg to begin its long voyage in October.