Wreck of sister vessel to famous 17th century Vasa warship found in Sweden


Marine archaeologists in Sweden say they have found the sister vessel of a famed 17th century warship that sank and is now on display in a Stockholm museum.

Applet (Apple) is the sister ship of Vasa, a royal warship that was raised in 1961 after more than 300 years underwater in Stockholm harbour.

In 1659, Applet was sunk to become part of an underwater barrier meant to protect the Swedish capital from enemy fleets.

The exact location of the wreck was lost over time but marine archaeologists working for Vrak, the Museum of Wrecks in Stockholm, confirmed on Monday that a shipwreck first found last December, is in fact Applet.

Experts, who found the wreck near the island of Vaxholm, just east of the capital, were able to confirm it was Applet by wood samples and archival data, the museum said.

“Our pulses spiked when we saw how similar the wreck was to Vasa,” said Jim Hansson, one of the archaeologists.

“Both the construction and the powerful dimensions seemed very familiar.”

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Visitors can see Vasa’s intricate wooden carvings at the Vasa Museum, one of Stockholm’s top tourist destinations.

Salvaged part of Applet warship in Vaxholm, Sweden. Pic: Museum of Wrecks/Anders P Nasberg/Vrak/Reuters

Experts were able to confirm that the wreck was the long-lost Applet by analysing its technical details, wood samples and archival data, the museum said in a statement.

Several samples taken and analysed after a second thorough dive in spring of this year, found that oak for the ship’s timber was felled in 1627 – in the same place as Vasa’s timber just a few years earlier.

A gunport of the Applet warship. Pic: Museum of Wrecks/ Jim Hanson/Vrak/Reuters
A gunport of the Applet warship. Pic: Museum of Wrecks/ Jim Hanson/Vrak/Reuters

Parts of Applet’s sides had collapsed on to the seabed but the hull was otherwise preserved up to a lower gun deck. The fallen sides had gun ports on two different levels, which was seen as evidence of a warship with two gun decks.

No decision has been taken on whether to raise the ship, which would be a costly and complicated endeavour.

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Applet was built around the same time as Vasa, by the order of Swedish King Gustav II Adolf.

While Vasa keeled over and sank just minutes after leaving port in 1628, Applet was launched the following year and remained in active service for three decades.

Experts say Vasa sunk because it lacked the ballast to counterweigh its heavy guns.


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