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Painting depicting Kronans dramateic fate. Photo Rolf Lind, Kalmar läns museum

Kronan - The flagship that sank

Suddenly, the enormous ship capsized with its many guns. Water poured in and panic took hold. While the crew desperately tried to escape, a powerful explosion tore apart the hull.

Facts

Deep: 27 metres

Build: 1665-68

Length: 53 metres

Width: 13 metres

Shipwreck: 1676

Ship type: Warship

Kronan (The Crown) was launched at the Skeppsholmen shipyard in Stockholm in 1668. It was one of the biggest warships of its time.

Because of Sweden’s poor economy, the ship was not commissioned until 1672. Three years later, war broke out against Denmark, which had the support of the Netherlands, the leading maritime power of the time.

After a failed naval campaign in the autumn, the Swedish navy would make another attempt to take up the fight with the enemy. Kronan became the flagship of admiral-general Lorentz Creutz, and in early May 1676 Kronan departed Dalarö together with some 50 other ships.

The two fleets met on 1 June off Hulterstad on Öland’s eastern side. A few days earlier, a battle ending in a draw was fought. But now the Danes had received reinforcements from the Netherlands. The clash quickly developed into a stinging defeat for the Swedes.

On board Kronan, orders were given to turn around and face the enemy – but without other measures like reefing the sail, closing the gunports or securing the guns. As a result, the enormous ship capsized and began to fill up with water. Suddenly, the powder keg ignited and the ship was blown apart in a huge explosion. About 800 men followed Kronan into the depths.

The wreck was found in 1980. Investigations have resulted in many amazing finds, and the wreck site is something of a time capsule from the era of the great Swedish empire.

Facts

Deep: 27 metres

Build: 1665-68

Length: 53 metres

Width: 13 metres

Shipwreck: 1676

Ship type: Warship

From the wreck

See where the wreck is located To the map