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The Discovery and Investigations of the Kronprins Gustav Adolf

The Finnish Naval Research Centre was surveying the sea bottom by a side scan sonar outside Helsinki in August 1995. On the southern side of the Gustav Adolf ‘s Shoal, the sonar showed a figure of a large wreck at the depth of app. 20 meters. The interesting find was reported to the Finnish Coast Guard who sent divers to verify the find. According to the divers, the wreck was of a large wooden warship. It was assumed that the wreck was the Kronprins Gustav Adolf, a Swedish ship of the line that was known to have sunk outside Helsinki in 1788.

The Maritime Museum of Finland investigated the wreck in 1997-1999. In May 1998, two cannons were raised from the wreck. The investigations were funded by e.g. the Finnish Cultural Foundation and the City of Helsinki. By the help of the funding from the Cultural Foundation, students specializing in marine archaeology at the University of Helsinki were able to take part in the investigations. Many voluntary divers, for example from the diving club Teredo navalis, also took part in the diving and documentation.

Based on the fieldwork it can be said that the wreck is that of the Kronprins Gustav Adolf. The facts that support this are the location of the wreck and the number, type, marks and dates of the cannons. In addition, the main measurements of the wreck, its rudder and anchors as well as the charred wood and oak as building material speak for the assumption. Also the shipbuilding technique and the quality of artefacts and structure parts and their location on the site support the theory. The evidence speaks for a Gustav Adolf type of a ship of the line and matches the information in literature and archives for the main part. No nameplates, emblems of the Crown or ship bells have been found. It is likely that they were destroyed or stolen when the Russians emptied the ship.
A scuba diver measuring the wreck of the Kronprins Gustav Adolf.


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Last updated 30.10.2015
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