A group of at least 10 Baltic shipwrecks were dived by maritime archaeologists over a week in late May, off the naval city of Karlskrona in southern Sweden.
Lying between the islands of Lindholmen and Smörasken, the wrecks are thought to have been sunk at various times during the 17th century, as foundations for a barrier intended to deter Danish and other fleets from attacking Karlskrona.
“What is exciting is that we found more wrecks than expected – at least 10,” said marine archaeologist Jim Hansson from Vrak, the Museum of Wrecks in Stockholm, which organised the expedition. The archaeological dive-team had expected to find the remains of six vessels, and several more are thought to lie deeply buried in sediment at the location.
Detailed measurements were taken and 3D images were being created from the many underwater photographs, while results were awaited from sampling crossbeam timbers from three of the wrecks.
“We hope we’ll then see both when they were built and understand when they were sunk,” said Hansson. “The largest wreck is more than 50m long – it could be the Ulrika Eleonora.”
The archaeologists are now examining archival records, particularly relating to the Queen Ulrika Eleonora, an 84-gun second-rate ship of the line launched around 1719. This became the flagship of a squadron that in 1744 brought Princess Louisa Ulrika to Stockholm to marry Crown Prince Adolf Fredrik – she later became Sweden’s queen for 20 years. The ship is thought to have survived until 1765.
“We recently dived sunken ships at Djupasund further out of Karlskrona, but these ships were sunk a hundred years later,” said Hansson. The six wreck discoveries at Djupasund, identified and now intended to form a trail for scuba divers later this year, were reported on Divernet in early April.