This is the stunningly preserved wreck of a 17th-century merchant ship which a team of experts were surprised to find in the Baltic Sea.
The discovery was made in the Gulf of Finland between Finland’s Hanko peninsula and the Estonian island of Hiiumaa in the Baltic Sea by Badewanne, a non-profit organisation dedicated to documenting shipwrecks from World War I and World War II.
The wreck was found on the seafloor at a depth of 280 feet and the team shared the discovery last week but they found the ship in mid-June.
When the experts were first exploring the wreck, they assumed they had found the remains of a vessel from one of the World Wars but they quickly realised it was a different type of ship.
Jouni Polkko, a member of the Badewanne team, told Real Press: “Quickly during the dive, it became clear that this was an old wreck and a Fluit-type merchant ship. ‘Fluit’ ships were designed in the Netherlands and used as merchant ships in the 17th century.”
The Badewanne team explained in a press release that this find was one of the biggest surprises during their long career of diving the wrecks in the eastern extension of the Baltic Sea.
Mr Polkko told RealPress: “What makes this discovery great is that its hull is completely intact. Admittedly, though, it had been hit by a trawler that damaged it a bit, which swept away the masts and some deck structures, for example, but the wreck is intact, the holds are full, and all side planking is firmly in place.”
He explained to Real Press that the specific conditions in the area of the Baltic Sea where the ship had sunk had allowed it to remain so well preserved.
He said: “Due to low salinity, absolute darkness, and very low temperatures all year round these processes are very slow in the Baltic. Perhaps most importantly, wood-boring organisms such as shipworm cannot live in such an environment.”
Since the Middle Ages, the Baltic Sea has been an important trade route, as the navies of Holland and England needed endless supplies of wood, tar, and hemp, all of which were available around the Baltic.
The team is not yet aware of what the ship was carrying and what it was used for, with Mr Polkko explaining: “The cargo hold is full of something, but we can’t see what, because there’s silt, which covers the cargo.”
The team have reported the find to the Finnish Board of Antiquities and have contacted marine archaeologists who Mr Polkko is sure will embark on a project on the wreck.
He said that the off-shore diving season in the area is coming to an end, meaning they will have to wait for further studies.
He told Real Press: “Most probably we will organise an expedition there later in suitable time. It will be then a project in cooperation with marine archaeologists.”
The Badewanne team will continue documenting and investigating this significant wreck in cooperation with Finnish Heritage Agency of Antiquities and other experts so they can discover all the secrets this ship is keeping.
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Story By: Ana Marjanovic, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Real Press
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