Charlie and the Photography Factory

May 9, 2009

The Little Ship that…Couldn’t – Part Två

Filed under: Stockholm, Sweden — Tags: , , , , , , , , — charlieprator @ 12:37 AM

Vasa Side

Lets conclude this story, shall we? 

As you already know, not even 400 ft from the shore, in front of thousands of on-lookers Vasa sunk, bringing down with her 30-50 of her passengers.  The catastrophe quickly spread around Sweden, and eventually to King Adolphus in Poland, who demanded punishment for the ship-builders.  But, whats funny is, Vasa, being so large had her masts sticking out Stockholm’s harbor for many days after its capsizing.  It served as a daily reminder of Sweden’s failure, and money gone to absolute waste.  Accounts tell that someone, by order of parliamentary officials, had to go out to the mast and saw it down!

Following the sinking, a formal investigation was initiated by King Adolphus to find someone guilty.  All the ship workers and sailors were interrogated only to find no one guilty. Why? Well, everyone pointed fingers to the guy in charge of them until it reached the original ship architect and engineer.  He was 6 feet under.

At the end of it all, people moved on.  Times changed.  Sweden went on to be a super-power. Then, they lost that status to the British. Later on, IKEA was founded. Then came the 1950s , and it was rediscovered!

Sweden, now in the 20th century finally had technology to properly resurrect the ship–with care, of course.  And, this is the real interesting part.  They excavated it by constructing 1 meter wide tunnels going under the entire ship (under/through the harbor floor).  Now, keep in mind silt had covered the ship all the way to the second gun deck.  And, the divers of the day wore atmosphere suits, worked in zero visibility, in 1 meter wide tunnels (talk about claustrophobia)–alone. 

Once the tunnels were complete, heavy gauged wire was looped through the tunnels, and it slowly hoisted up.  Today, after much preservation techniques, it is on display at one of the coolest museums I’ve ever been to.

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May 7, 2009

The Little Ship that…Couldn’t

Filed under: Stockholm, Sweden — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — charlieprator @ 2:52 AM

vasa-11

Today let’s go for another history lesson.  This is Vasa ship, and for its age I would say it looks pretty good, right?   Well, you’ll be surprised to know that as of 2009 this ship is 382 years old.  Oh, and one more thing.  It laid, forgotten, underwater, less than 1 nautical mile away from Stockholm city centre, for three hundred years!

Before we go on, I must mention how enormous this ship is.  No matter what angle, what floor, which corner of this museum/warehouse I was in I could never fit the entire ship in my camera lens.  This sucker could house roughly 450 people, while defending them with 64 guns of varying size (did I mention at least 6 middle age “howitzers”?).  It weighed 2.6 million lbs (1,200 tonnes), and stood a little less that 200 ft (52.5 meters)tall!  The enormity of this beast is not justified by this 6×5 photo.  Of course, if you’re ever in Stockholm you gotta visit it.

So, How did this happen?  This too was interesting story.  But, probably longer than yesterday’s Nazi petit histoire.  Fair warning.

It was around 1628, and Sweden, by the help of King Gustavus Adolphus, is on its way to becoming a super-power. Little known fact, before Britain ruled the shores, Sweden use to make everyone its bitch.  Anyways, King Gustav, claiming territory in Poland, has his personally commissioned ship finally completed.  Not too match anyone’s ego, nor to compensate for anything else, he has the biggest and best ship in all the waters built for glorious Sweden. 

And, thats where it all went wrong.  This over-engineered (or under-engineered depending on how you look at it) monster never made it out of its own harbor!  Whats worse, is that its shipbuilders were aware of the problems!  In a common medieval ship control test, 30 men would run on the top deck, simultaneously from side-to-side to check for capsizing.  Now, the minimum for good ship was somewhere around 15.  The Vasa ship didn’t even make 8 before they had to stop the test. Yet, they trucked on through; creating the 2 gun decks seen here.  Accordingly, on the day of its maiden voyage, the shipbuilders outfit it with ballasts to evenly distrubute weight.  Interestingly, this pre-emptive control would end up causing its own sinking.

Hate to cut the post “shorter” than it is, but it’s getting late.  To be continued…

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