Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Past and Present meet on the seabed of the Gulf of Finland

by Kathryn Hadley

A sunken ship, which dates back almost three centuries, has been discovered in the Gulf of Finland during a seabed survey for the Nordstream gas pipeline project. The wreck was found, 54 metres beneath the seabed, near the island of Gogland along with the remains of five other ships from a Russian fleet which sank after a storm in 1713. The 16-metre long ship is a Dutch-modelled tjalk, a flat-bottomed military transport ship with a shallow draught particularly adapted to the rivers and coastal waters of Old Frislandia. It is one of the few remaining vessels from the time of Peter the Great and a precious relic of his attempts to build up the Russian navy and transform Russia into a maritime power.
Andrey Lukoshkov, the consultant for the project 'Sunken Ships', explained:

‘It was the time when Sweden and Russia fought each other over supremacy in Europe’s North’.

The ship is remarkably well-preserved and personal possessions and tableware are still identifiable in the captain’s cabin. Scientists now hope to raise the necessary funds in order to bring the ship to the surface and to transport it to a naval museum in Kaliningrad before construction work on the pipeline begins.

The extensive ‘Secrets of Sunken Ships’ project was initiated in St Petersburg in 2002 in an attempt to search, explore and ensure the state registration of the wealth of artefacts and ship wrecks discovered on the seabed of the Gulf of Finland and the Ladoga Lake. 10,000 sunken objects, which chart the history of northern Europe over a period of almost 1,400 years, have already been listed, including planes, tanks, torpedoes, anchors and ancient burials. It is believed that this figure represents a mere 30% of the artefacts which remain to be discovered. For more information on the project, visit the website

For more information on the present struggle for the control of oil and gas and its history during the Great Game, read our latest article
The Great Game: Power Struggles in Asia

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