GHOST SHIP FACTS
In 2010 an international group of scientists were able to investigate a 17th century wooden shipwreck in the Baltic Sea at a depth of 130 meters using robots and echo sounders in a combination never used before in deep-water archaeology. Learn more about the Baltic Sea and the Ghost Ship.
THE BALTIC SEA
- The Baltic Sea is a shallow sea. The average depth is 60 meters/185 feet. The greatest depth is 459 meters/1425 feet.
- Nine countries border on the Baltic: Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Sweden and Germany.
- The area of the Baltic Sea is about 400 000 km², which is 0,1% of the total area of the oceans on the globe.
- The Baltic Sea has narrow connections to the rest of the oceans, making the tidal movements minimal, rarely more than an inch.
- There are many thousands of wrecks in the Baltic Sea, the highest estimates are about 100 000. Ships more than a thousand years old have been found. A stone age boat made from a hollow tree trunk is probably the oldest wreck discovered in the Baltic. It has been dated to 5 200 years BC.
- The salinity in the Baltic is only 0.06-0.15% (3.5% in the large oceans), which makes it unsuitable for the shipworm (Teredo Navalis). This is the major reason why wooden wrecks survive in the Baltic.
- In the Baltic Sea there are also archaeological traces of stone age dwellings, now under water, as well as entire forests that were drowned when the glaciers receded after the last ice age some15 000 years ago.
- The closest land to the Ghost Ship is Gotland, the largest island in the Baltic. Gotland is a Swedish province. Visby is the capital, once a Hanseatic city with a medieval center that became a UNESCO world heritage in 1995. Visby has the best preserved ancient city wall in Northern Europe. Inside it are more than 200 medieval stone buildings.
- In 1628 the Swedish war ship Vasa sank on her maiden voyage near Stockholm harbor. Thirty five years later a group of daring diving pioneers managed to salvage some fifty guns from the wreck. Using a primitive diving bell, they reached Vasa at a depth of 30 meters/100 feet, then swam into the ship and tied ropes around the guns. Vasa was raised in 1961, 333 years after the sinking. The Vasa Museum is now one of Sweden’s most popular tourist attractions.
- The world’s worst single sea catastrophe, the sinking of the passenger liner Wilhelm Gustloff happened on January 30, 1945 in the southern Baltic. Gustloff was torpedoed by a Soviet submarine and more than ten thousand people died, mostly German civilians fleeing as Nazi Germany was retreating at the end of WWII.
THE GHOST SHIP
- The Ghost Ship was discovered by chance in 2003 during the search for a Swedish spy plane shot down during the Cold War.
- The discovery was made public in 2007, after a Swedish scientist concluded that the shipwreck was indeed unique and of great historic significance.
- In 2008, the survey company MMT mounted a trial expedition to document the wreck and test new methods for deep sea archaeology in the Baltic.
- In May 2010 the survey and research vessel Ice Beam was fitted for the first full scale archaeological expedition, which successfully measured the wreck and raised a man-size wooden sculpture from a depth of 130 meters/400 feet.
- The research has concluded that this is a ship typical of Dutch 17th century shipbuilding, probably built around 1650. In Dutch the ship type is called fluyt. It is 26 meters/80 feet long and 8 meters/25 feet wide. Its loading capacity is about 100 lasts (about 280 metric tons). Thanks to a 3-D model of the ship made during the 2010 expedition, the scientists can now reconstruct both the exterior and interior of the ship. This offers much new knowledge about shipping and trade during this historic period.
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