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Giant replica of Swedish 18th century ship up for sale

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Giant replica of Swedish 18th century ship up for sale
The Götheborg setting sail from Stockholm in 2008. Photo: Claudio Bresciani / TT
12:10 CEST+02:00
A Swedish ship that is the world's largest seaworthy wooden vessel of its class is up for sale, after owners ran out of funds for its upkeep.

The craft is a replica of a merchant vessel that sank in 1745 off the coast of Sweden for reasons still unknown, and is now for sale after years on the seas.

The Swedish foundation that owns the vessel Götheborg, a replica of the 18th century galleon from the Swedish East India Company, announced on Thursday that it could no longer afford the upkeep.

"This is a tough decision that we've been forced to make," said Lars Malmer, chairman of the Ostindiefararen Götheborg foundation.

"We would have preferred it to continue sailing, but can confirm that the financial conditions do not exist," he said in a statement.

The original, the East Indiaman Götheborg, sank in 1745 within sight of its home port of Gothenburg on Sweden's west coast after nearly completing a two-year voyage home from China.

But the ship struck an underwater rock as it neared its home port.

Within view of the harbour, the vessel 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.

The replica, Götheborg III, took ten years to make using shipbuilding techniques and materials believed to have been in use in the 18th century.

The foundation said carpenters used hand-forged nails, handmade blocks and hand-woven rigging to construct the 40-metre (130-foot) long and ten-metre wide vessel.

However, the ship is equipped with modern technologies to meet current safety standards.

The modern-day Götheborg set sail for the first time in August 2005 and began to retrace its old route west three months later.

It has since anchored in nearly 100 ports in over 20 countries, employed thousands of sailors and welcomed a million visitors aboard.

Malmer said the foundation will consider any proposal to save the ship by selling it to buyers in any country, or to keep it in Gothenburg, the port city which owes its fortune to trade during the 18th century.

Malmer would not discuss the ship's selling price.

"We'll see about that with potential buyers," he told AFP.

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