Friday, March 12, 2010

Looking for a sunken ship?

From the web:
Pipeline Company Finds Old Sunken Ships in Baltic

(March 9) -- The multinational corporation was on the hunt for natural gas when it came across a different kind of treasure instead: shipwrecks from hundreds of years ago, one of them so old it may be a relic from medieval times.

On Monday, as Nord Stream explorers probed an area off the coast of Sweden, they discovered a dozen extraordinarily well-preserved ships resting on the floor of the Baltic Sea. The Nord
Stream venture, which is majority-owned by the state-run Russian company Gazprom, is working on a 750-mile pipeline from Russia to Germany.
"They used sonar equipment first and discovered some unevenness along the sea bottom ... so they filmed some of the uneven areas, and we could see the wrecks," Peter Norman, a member of Sweden's National Heritage Board, told the Agence France-Presse. "This discovery offers enormous culture-historical value.
"Norman told the AFP that most of the ships are thought to be between 300 and 400 years old and could "tell us a lot about everyday life during that time."More than 3,000 shipwrecks have been discovered in Baltic waters, including the royal warship Vasa, which sank on its maiden voyage in 1628, Norman told the AFP.The Baltic Sea has been called an "archaeological paradise" because its waters contain so little salt that they don't attract the hull-eating worms that destroy shipwrecks. The sea is also shallow and easier to explore than other bodies of water.
In February, Robert Ballard, the U.S. marine scientist who discovered the Titanic, told CBS News that scientists recognize "the discovery potential of the Baltic given its unique characteristics for preservation of ancient wooden ships."The 12 ships found by Nord Stream are largely intact, though it's not clear yet whether they will be brought to the surface or restored.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

That's really interesting. I live in northern Sweden and I didn't know that ships are preserved better in the baltic sea than in the rest of the world's oceans.

A story that you might like is that in 1916 the Swedish ship Jönköping was sunk by a German submarine outside of Finland at a depth of 64 meters. Officially the ship was loaded with 96 tons of iron, when the cargo in fact consisted of cognac, wine and champagne destined for the Tsar of Russia, Nikolaj II. The champagne was from the maker Heidesieck in Riem and was bottled in 1907.

The shipwreck was found in 1997 by the Swedish treasure hunter Peter Lindberg. The cognac and wine had been destroyed but in 1998 a team of Swedes and Finns managed to recover 2400 bottles of champagne, which tasted wonderful. Some of the bottles were later sold at auction for 32000 SEK, around $4500, per bottle. Of course when it comes to finding treasure people often get into a fight about who's the owner. The Swedes and the Finns went to court and it was decided that they would split the profit from the sales 75/25.

There's something about shipwrecks with a cargo of century-old champagne bottles that excites me almost more than a shipwreck filled with gold.