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17th Century ship discovered in the Gulf of Finland

news
2020-08-25
A practically intact Dutch 17th Century merchantman was discovered this summer in the Gulf of Finland. The wellpreserved wreck is a good example of the importance of the Baltic Sea, and especially the trade of the Gulf of Finland 400 years ago.

While diving for wrecks from 1st or 2nd World War wrecks at the mouth of the Gulf of Finland, Badewanne divers descended on a bigg surprise. Therefore, it was to our great surprise when descending on a wreck at 85 meters depth, they ealized that they found at an almost completely preserved Dutch Fluit ship!

The wreck rests on even keel on the seabed, with most of her rigging scattered around her. There is only slight damage. The wreck is almost intact, holds are full, and all side planking is firmly in place. The ship had no guns but was capable of carrying a lot of cargo, and boasted advanced technical features for the time, enabling it to be piloted by a smaller crew than was typical.

It is a Dutch “Fluit” ship, a three-masted ship with a very capacious hull design, carrying no guns and allowing a very large cargo capacity. Technical advanced features facilitated a much smaller crew than earlier ship types, making the trade more profitable. Another totally novel feature onboard the Fluit ships was that the entire crew lived “abaft of the main mast” – Master, mates, bosun, cook and all ratings, all occupied the same space ‘tween decks, and ate at the same table. This was very unusual in the contemporary society, let alone in highly hierarchic maritime world.

The Fluit ships were dominant in the Baltic trade between late 16th to mid-18th century. However, very few of these once common ships have survived, even as wrecks.

Badewanne team will continue documenting and investigating this significant wreck in co-operation with Finnish Heritage Agency of Antiquities and other partners, Including Associate Professor Dr. Niklas Eriksson, Maritime Archaeologist, Univ. of Stockholm, Sweden: “The wreck reveals many of the characteristics of the fluit but also some unique features, not least the construction of the stern. It might be that this is an early example of the design. The wreck thus offers a unique opportunity to investigate the development of a ship type that sailed all over the world and became the tool that laid the foundation for early modern globalization,” says Dr. Eriksson.

Badewanne is a non-profit organization representing a group of voluntary divers that document shipwrecks in the Baltic Sea.