The wreck site
The Baltic Sea preserves wooden shipwrecks due to low salinity, low temperatures and lack of the Teredo Navalis (ship worm). No were else in the world you can find intact 16th century warships.
The Vasa is a fine example of an incredibly intact ship from the 17th century. The Vasa did not sink during battle. She was poorly designed and sank in the harbor of Stockholm. The Mars sank in battle after days of fighting and a gun powder explosion finally sealed her fate. She went down in relatively deep waters, 75m, keeping her safe from salvage. Amazingly enough underwater salvage was possible during this period using diving bells. All of Vasa’s cannons except three were salvaged in the 17th century. The depth made Mars hard to locate in contrary to Vasa which masts revealed her position.
The Mars is very intact, in fact all of the wood is still there. Cut marks from carpenters axes can still be seen and traces of white paint. The explosion and the test of time have caused her to partly collapse. The port hull side remains almost completely intact with rows of cannon ports. The wreckage sticks up some 11m from the bottom at its highest point. In the stern divers can swim into the wreck in an area that may have been the admiral’s quarters.
The starboard side of the ship has collapsed outwards revealing her insides. Cannons too many to count litter the wreck site along with numerous other objects.
The wreck site is large, there are object as far as 150m from the wreck. Probably thrown there by the explosion. The historical accounts tell of the main mast shooting up like an arrow. To the east of the wreck site there is mast like remains. They have not yet been investigated.
To date less than a handful dives have been done on the Mars. Much remains to be discovered. On the Kronan over 30.000 objects have been salvaged. The Mars is sure to hold many surprises in the future.
*ILLUSTRATION ALXANDER RAUSCHER/SVENSKA DAGBLADET ©