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Swedes find 17th century sister ship to famous warship Vasa

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STOCKHOLM — Marine archaeologists in Sweden say they have found the sister ship of a famous 17th-century warship that sank on its maiden voyage and is now on display in a popular museum in Stockholm.

The wreck of the royal warship Vasa was reassembled in 1961, remarkably well preserved, after more than 300 years underwater in Stockholm harbour. Visitors can admire his intricate wooden carvings at the Vasa Museum, one of Stockholm’s top tourist attractions.

Her sister warship, Applet (Apple), was built around the same time as Vasa on the orders of Swedish King Gustav II Adolf.

Unlike the Vasa, which capsized and sank minutes after leaving port in 1628, the sister ship was launched without incident the following year and remained in active service for three decades. It was sunk in 1659 to form part of an underwater barrier to protect the Swedish capital from enemy fleets.

The exact location of the wreck has been lost over time, but marine archaeologists working for Vrak – Stockholm’s shipwreck museum – say they found a large wreck in December 2021 near the island of Vaxholm, just east of the capital.

“Our pulse rose when we saw how much the wreckage looked like Vasa,” said Jim Hansson, one of the archaeologists. “The powerful construction and dimensions felt very familiar.”

Experts were able to confirm it was the long-lost applet by analyzing its technical details, wood samples and archival data, the museum said in a statement Monday.

Parts of the ship’s sides had collapsed to the seabed, but the hull was otherwise preserved down to a lower gun deck. The dropped sides had gun ports at two different levels, which was considered evidence of a warship with two gun decks.

A second deeper dive was made in the spring of 2022, and details were found that had so far only been seen at Vasa. Several samples were taken and analyzes carried out, and it turned out that the oak for the timber of the ship was felled in 1627 in the same place as the timber of Vasa a few years earlier.

Experts say the Vasa sank because it lacked the ballast to counterbalance its heavy guns. Applet was built wider than Vasa and with a slightly different hull shape. Still, ships of this size were difficult to maneuver and Applet probably lay idle for most of her service, despite sailing to Germany with over 1,000 people on board during the Thirty Years’ War. said the Vrak Museum.

No decision has been made on whether to refloat the vessel, which would be a costly and complicated undertaking.