The Vasa Museum Stockholm

The Vasa

In 1628, the Vasa sank on her maiden voyage, barely making it 1300 meters out of port before heavily listing, taking on water through the open gunports, and fully submersed within minutes. So why did she sink so quickly? The Vasa may have been well built but the ship was incorrectly proportioned–the underwater part of the hull was too small and the ballast insufficient in relation to the rig and cannons. While many of Vasa’s cannons were rescued some 40 years later, it wasn’t until 1961 that the ship herself was finally raised. Today, the wood of Vasa is more than 95% original timber–it took 17 full years of spraying the ship with PEG (polyethlyne glycol–a chemical compound that replaces the water in waterlogged wood to prevent shrinkage and cracking) to conserve the wood. In addition to the ship and the longboat, the Vasa Museum’s collections include over 40,000 finds, such as the original sails and sculptures. At 230 feet (69 meters) long and 170 feet (52.5 meters) high, it’s only when you stand next to the Vasa in person, climbing 4 stories to peer down inside, can you appreciate the scale of the ship, the feat of conservation, and the original loss to a country of this magnificent warship.

Amy Jurries

Amy is a freelance travel writer and editor.

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