The VASA

The VASA

DSC00432  600x450

On August 10th, 1628, the newly-commissioned 64-gun VASA sailed from her berth on Blasieholmen, heading south to pick up troops for the ongoing war with Poland.  20 minutes and 1200 meters later, VASA heeled over in the breeze, the lower gunports slipped under the waterline, and VASA sank taking 50 sailors with her.

Over the next 30 years, divers using diving bells managed to recover 61 of her guns.  Then everyone forgot about the wreck at the bottom of Stockholm harbor -- until 1956 when a core of black oak was brought up by a marine archaeologist.

VASA was raised in 1961 -- largely intact -- and restored over the course of the next 28 years.  It is now housed in its own museum on the island of Skeppsholmen, less than a kilometer from the spot where she rested on the bottom for 333 years.

Between 1961 when VASA was raised off the harbor bottom and 1988 when the present Vasamuseet opened to the public, restorers worked constantly to replace the water in the wood with polyethylene glycol.  The chemical turns the normally dark black oak to a very dark brown.  Where parts of the ship were not able to be recovered or restored, new oak parts have been fabricated and left in their native state.

The VASA museum is actually a drydock.  When VASA was ready to move to the museum, it was floated into the drydock and allowed to settle.  Then the back wall of the museum was built and the water drained from the drydock.  Thus VASA sailed on her own keel only twice: once in 1628, and again in 1988.