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Advent calendar 2020: 6. Vasa shipwreck

Advent calendar 2020: 6. Vasa shipwreck

Christmas is probably not the right time to talk about disasters, but when it comes to epic fails in Swedish history, you’d probably think of this one: the warship Vasa.

Vasa was named after the Swedish dynasty of that name and launched in 1627. On 10 August 1628, it set sail from Gamla stan towards the naval base in Älvsnabben near Stockholm. In just 1km, a gust of wind pushed the ship towards the left, so much that the gun ports dropped under water. The ship took in water and sunk, killing 30 people according to contemporary reports.

It turned out that the ship had a faulty design such that the centre of gravity was too high, so it couldn’t withstand a gust of wind. The ship’s designer was already dead before the voyage happened; no one was found guilty during the inquest that followed.

Salvage attempts started three days after the disaster but failed. It took until 1961 when Vasa was successfully salvaged with many heritage items that showed the socioeconomic situation in 17th century Sweden. Vasa is now preserved in its own museum on the west coast of Djurgården, around 1km from the site of the disaster.