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On This Day… The Most Embarrassing Ship Launch In History

Written by: George Chittenden : 23 May 2019

It was on this day, 10th August, back in 1628 when one of the most powerfully armed vessels in the world sank during her maiden voyage. The Vasa was a Swedish warship that was built between 1626 and 1628. She was commissioned by Swedish King Gustav II Adolf to be the mightiest warship in the entire world. On August 10th, 1628, she fired a barrage of canon shots in front of the royal palace in Stockholm and began her maiden voyage on a journey to dominate the seas. The Vasa only sailed around 1,300 metres before she sank. Unfortunately, she did not have enough ballast to counteract the weight of her sixty-four guns.

The Vasa, one of Sweden’s top tourist attractions

The Vasa, one of Sweden’s top tourist attractions

Thankfully this story of disaster has a relatively happy ending. On 24th April, back in 1961 a large crowd gathered at the Stockholm harbour and one-hundred million people tuned in globally as the crown jewel of the Swedish navy was raised off the Baltic sea-bed where it had rested for more than 300 years. The Vasa is now one of Sweden’s top tourist attractions and has received over thirty-five million visitors since her salvage.

The Vasa sinking shortly after her launch

The Vasa sinking shortly after her launch

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