A Return to Vasa

In the previous post on going to Stockholm I said the Vasa Museum was number one on our must see list. I saw Vasa nearly thirty years ago when it was in the earliest stages of preservation.

Vasa was commissioned in 1625 by King Gustavus II Adolphus to be Sweden’s greatest gun ship. Sweden had a spate of bad luck losing 15 warships over four years due to storms and a few bad naval engagements.

Vasa was huge given the standards of the time, with 64 large canons, masts over 50 meters high, and replete with carved sculptures. It was intended to be an in-your-face war ship, and ambassadors from regional powers reported on its construction.

Vasa was built in what is now downtown Stockholm harbor. It put to sea August 10th 1628. What was to be the flagship of the Swedish navy sailed 1,300 meters, raised its sails, and promptly rolled over and sank. While the captain was immediately imprisoned on suspicion canons were not properly secured, ballast not properly loaded, and some part of the crew were intoxicated. The King was not happy. The investigation produced conflicting information and no one was held accountable for the disaster.

In 1683 the last canon was salvaged from Vasa and Sweden closed the books on the investigation.

Fast forward to April 24, 1961, when Vasa was lifted to the surface after 333 years. The painstaking work of drying and preserving the oak began in small surroundings where I first saw it. The large and impressive museum opened June 15th 1990. Work still continues on the ship today.

Modern analysis does indicate the ship was built top-heavy, probably explain why it capsized.

As of 2001 Vasa had hosted 20 million visitors and they claim to be one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world.

The museum is not brightly lit and my photos where with my phone, but here they are.

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