Stockholm’s Great Scandal!

August 14, 2015 (Stockholm, Day 1)

When we left Sigtuna, we returned to Stockholm to visit one of its more than 80 museums.

The Vasa Museum’s centerpiece is a ship that sank in 1628, 23 minutes into its maiden voyage! It was not pulled out of the canal until the 1950s, when the technology to do this had been developed, then it was reconstructed and the museum housing it opened in the 1990s; the museum was actually built around the reconstructed ship, and from outside you can see where the mast juts out above the roof.

Inside, the museum has six stories, each surrounding the reconstructed ship, so that you can see it from various levels, and also see the exhibits on each floor.

Front of the Vasa Museum. The mast can be seen rising above the roof.
Front of the Vasa Museum. The mast can be seen rising above the roof.

There were interactive exhibits telling the story of what happened – Britt called it the “great scandal” of Stockholm.

The reconstructed ship
The reconstructed ship

King Gustavus Adolphus wanted an impressive war ship built with two gun decks, brass cannons, and loaded with ornamental woodwork, colorfully painted.

Replica of the colorful decoration on the back of the ship
Replica of the colorful decoration on the back of the ship (this is a to scale model of the Vasa).
Decoration on the back of the ship Vasa (without the color)
Decoration on the back of the ship Vasa (without the color)

KODAK Digital Still CameraHe hired the best engineers, both Dutch, to design and build it; however, the king’s specifications made the ship too heavy. It didn’t have enough ballast, so it sat high in the water,

This diagram shows how high the ship sat in the water.
This diagram shows how high the ship sat in the water.
Model of the ballast
Model of the ballast

and the two cannons were too heavy for the ship, whose width was too narrow – the engineers knew this, but were compelled to follow the king’s orders. After the ship sank, an inquest was held. Many crew members, most of whom survived, were interviewed and it eventually came down to the two engineers. Their testimony revealed who was really to blame: the king. The engineers were not prosecuted; they’d done what they had been ordered to do. Obviously the king could not be prosecuted so the result of the trial was that “no one” was at fault!

KODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still Camera

One section of exhibits shows how the ship was pulled out of the water, including a model of a diving bell.

KODAK Digital Still CameraAfter we left the museum, our bus passed a bar called Skeppsbar – this was the very same bar where the skipper on the Vasa went to drown his sorrows by getting drunk after the disaster!

More on the Vasa can be found at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasa_%28ship%29
and New Clues Emerge in Centuries-Old Swedish Shipwreck.

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