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VIDEO: Incredible 400-year old ship found in the Baltic Sea

PortandTerminal.com, August 21, 2020

Previously unknown 17th-century shipwreck, astonishingly well preserved, discovered in Gulf of Finland | Ship believed to be a Dutch fluyt

HELSINKI – Divers from Finland have accidentally uncovered a 400-year-old ship in the Baltic Sea.

Lying in waters in the western Gulf of Finland, the largely intact vessel may have sunk in the early 1600s.

The Badewanne Diving Team, a group of volunteer divers in Finland, stumbled across the ship while searching for WWI and WWII wrecks at the mouth of the Gulf of Finland.

The wreck found 280 feet below the surface with only minor damage caused by a collision with a fishing trawler, which damaged its deck, masts and bow. The hull though is still almost intact, with only a few planks missing.

“Quickly during the dive, it became clear that this was an old wreck and a fluyt-type merchant ship. Fluyts were designed in the Netherlands and used as merchant ships in the 17th century. The ship was designed so that it could be sailed with a small crew, and so a lot of cargo could be carried,” explains Jouni Polkko, diving team member.

Dutch ‘Fluyt’ ships were once dominant in the Baltic trade between late 16th to the mid-18th century.

Dutch fluyt, 1677
Dutch fluyt, 1677. The flutes were three-masted, sailing ships with large holds, which unlike most European cargo vessels of the period were not designed to mount arms. Artwork from the University of Toronto Wenceslaus Hollar Digital Collection

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.

Wooden wrecks can only survive in a few places in the world. Low salinity in the Baltic Sea, combined with absolute darkness and very low temperatures all year round, have protected this ‘Fluyt’ ship from being destroyed by chemical, biochemical and biological decaying processes.

Diver. Shipwreck
Fluyts were three-masted, large-hulled cargo vessels that were usually not usually armed. Image: Jouni Polkko

“The wreck 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 globalisation,” says Dr Niklas Eriksson, a maritime archaeologist at the University of Stockholm.

It has also protected the ship from wood-boring organisms such as shipworm, who cannot live in such conditions.

“Because the hull is intact, the ship is likely to have capsized in a storm. It was hardly driven onto the rocks. Or, it may have sprung a sudden leak in the middle of its voyage,” Polkko sums up.

“The wreck 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 globalisation,” says Dr Niklas Eriksson, a maritime archaeologist at the University of Stockholm.

With reporting by Euronews, Yle

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