The Vasa (also called Wasa)

The Vasa was a Swedish galleon, which in its day counted as one of the largest and most heavily armed warships.



Construction and equipment:

The order to build the Vasa was granted in the course of the Thirty Years' War by the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf of Sweden in 1625. The reason for this was the clashes between Sweden and Poland, and the Swedish king wanted to establish Sweden as an ascending naval superpower by building this great warship.


The ship was to be equipped with a total of 64 guns, which was equal to the total firepower of the Polish Navy. With a length of 69 meters, a width of 12 meters and a height of almost 52 meters, the ship should set new standards as a prestige project.


The responsible shipbuilder was the Dutchman Henrik Hybertsson. Alone only for the Vasa were cut down to the 1,000 trees and processed. Although properties of various types of ships flowed into the Vasa, but for the most part could be called the ship as a galleon.


In 1627, however, after hearing rumors about the Polish construction of a ship of similar size, the Swedish king gave the momentous instruction on the upper cannon deck the same number and caliber of cannon as on the lower deck. This meant that the statics of the ship was no longer sufficient and the ship was too deep and water could penetrate into the lower gun ports even at low waves.


Querschnitt der Vasa

Cross section of the Vasa


Another special feature of the ship, if only for decorative purposes, was the embellishment of the ship was particularly seen at the rear. More than 700 statues decorated the ship and should frighten the enemy. These consisted mainly of Roman warriors, lions, mermaids, fantasy figures and Greek deities.




The downfall:

1628 the construction was completed and the test drives could begin. So the ship was first pulled by the shipyard in front of the royal castle Tre Kronor and tested the stability. Here, for example, 30 men from one side of the ship to the other, which brought the ship in a dangerous tilt and the test had to be canceled. This instability can be attributed to the additional guns of the upper cannon deck. Nevertheless, the Vasa ran out on August 10, 1628 and lay down after a few meters in an inclined position. After about 1,300 meters in a stronger gust of wind, the ship completely overturned and sank. 30 to 50 men of the crew were killed.


In 1961 the ship could be recovered and due to the high sulfur content in the harbor water it was still in very good condition. It was subsequently towed to Beckholmen where it is now exhibited in the Vasa Museum.







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